Will Cannabis Help You Sleep?
Updated: May 16
Many people I talk to who have struggled with sleep for a long time have tried cannabis to help them sleep. Like anything, for some people it works. For others it doesn't. Some people who haven't used the drug recreationally don't like how it makes them feel, especially many of the high achievers I work with.
I'll be honest, I’ve smoked plenty of pot in my life. So I'm not anti-cannabis by any means. But as I learn more and more about what it does to the body, it makes sense how my marijuana use has contributed to many of the symptoms I experience now. So if you’re thinking about using it for sleep, I want to tell you all the ways it affects the body so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Like anything you ingest, smoke or put into your body, cannabis changes how your body functions. It especially affects the hormones in the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands and the reproductive system in a negative way.
Let’s get into it.
Cortisol is the primary hormone that sabotages our sleep. It turns out that THC increases the cortisol circulating in your body. If you don't use cannabis often, this increased cortisol can cause increases in blood pressure and anxiety. If you use it long-term, that constant cortisol increase will also minimize the morning spike of cortisol that helps us wake up and feel alert. When this happens, you feel groggy and sleepy in the morning, what I call the “weed hangover.” The increase in cortisol after using marijauna can also affect a woman's libido and menstrual cycle.
THC affects the thyroid by lowering thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that is secreted from the pituitary gland. The more pot you smoke or eat, the more it lowers TSH. When you body doesn’t have enough TSH, it can’t make the active forms T4 and T3 that your body needs to maintain your metabolism, heart and digestive functions, brain development and bone health. When your thyroid isn't working properly, you can have symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, depression, decreased libido and abnormal menstrual cycles. Oh yeah, and sleep issues too.
If that’s not enough, cannabis also makes us less fertile. You probably already know that THC can decrease sperm count but it also lowers testosterone, reduces sperm motility and inhibits the whole process that the sperm need to fertilize an egg. For women, THC affects ovulation and can lead to an irregular cycle. So if you're trying to get pregnant, I recommend staying away from cannabis even though it's legal and supposedly medicinal.
Here’s the gist: If you can’t sleep, your body and hormones are already out of whack. THC is only going to throw things more out of balance and lead to more symptoms down the road.
I understand that you’ll try anything because you're desperate for a solution. I have a solution for you that gets your body back in balance, instead of making things worse. The first step is a conversation with me. I’ll tell you on the phone exactly what’s keeping you from sleeping. If you’re ready to do something about it, we’ll make a plan that will improve your sleep in as little as a month and that lasts forever.