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Sleep ‘extremes’ more likely among cannabis users: study

Photo: José Antonio Luque Olmedo/iStockphoto

Philadelphia — Cannabis users are more likely to experience extremes in nightly sleep duration, according to a recent study led by a Thomas Jefferson University researcher.

Using 2005-2018 data from a nationally representative group of nearly 22,000 U.S. adults ages 20-59 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers identified more than 3,100 respondents (14.4%) who reported using cannabis in the previous 30 days. They found that the cannabis users were 56% more likely than non-cannabis users to sleep nine or more hours and 34% more likely to sleep six hours or less.

Among heavy cannabis users, or anyone using on 20 or more of the previous 30 days, they were 76% more likely than the non-users to experience long sleep and 64% more likely to get short sleep.

Other findings:

  • Cannabis users were 31% more likely to report difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Moderate cannabis users, defined as using fewer than 20 times over the past 30 days, were 47% more likely than non-users to sleep nine or more hours.
  • Users were 29% more likely to have discussed a sleeping problem with a physician.

The researchers note that decriminalization of marijuana in numerous states over the past decade, along with research stating that cannabinoids – a chemical substance in cannabis – have therapeutic value for pain relief, anxiety issues and as a sleep aid, has driven a rapid rise in cannabis use.

“Increasing prevalence of both cannabis use and sleep deprivation in the population is a potential cause for concern,” the researchers say in a press release. “Our findings highlight the need to further characterize the sleep health of cannabis users.”

The study was published online Dec. 6 in the journal Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine.

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