Many people experiencing sleep issues use over-the-counter medications and self-prescribed remedies in an attempt to get better rest. Melatonin is a go-to for those looking for a good night’s sleep. It comes in various forms, including drinks, gummies and pills. However, since marijuana has been legalized in many states across the country, some people turn to cannabis-based edibles or gummies that provide a small level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to assist in falling asleep. But what happens when you combine melatonin and marijuana?
Effects of Using Melatonin and Marijuana
Combining melatonin and marijuana could make you more drowsy, and even produce a sedation effect. There is not a lot of research on using melatonin and marijuana. While combining the two substances carries a low risk of harm, there can be some negative results. Using both substances should be done with caution.
Marijuana can increase the body’s natural production of melatonin and inhibit your ability to wake up. It also causes some people to experience less deep sleep. Melatonin can increase the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, which is the period of sleep when dreams occur. It may even make dreams more vivid.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is an endogenous (naturally produced in the body) hormone that helps regulate sleep patterns in the human body through a complex set of biochemical processes. It’s an interesting supplement, partly because its use in the evenings by individuals reinforces the ahistorical nature of modern life.
Before electricity and modern homes were available to the masses, our bodies naturally responded to the amount and kinds of natural light available to us throughout the daytime and evenings. During the day, blue wavelengths of light bombard the eyes. The brain understands that this is daytime, a time to be awake. However, when the eyes pick up red wavelengths of lights in the evening (think sunsets), the brain responds by releasing melatonin hormones, triggering drowsiness. This is also an explanation as to why “blue light glasses” are an unscientific fad that relies on a misunderstanding of natural sleep patterns developed over hundreds of thousands of years of human mammalian evolution.
Because of our modern patterns of living, we require certain abilities to continue living “normally,” contrary to the regular pattern of life prior to the introduction of electric lighting on a mass scale 150 years ago. Sometimes the demands of modern life can become disruptive to our ability to sleep, meaning that we may require extra supplementation to give our bodies a reset and fix our circadian rhythms. Melatonin, when used correctly and in the right circumstances, is essentially a wonder drug for those who need a little assistance with falling asleep or staying asleep.
How Does Melatonin Affect Sleep?
Melatonin doesn’t work the same way in everyone. Some users of the supplement report that it cause a variety of negative side effects, such as:
- Excessive drowsiness
- Vivid, disturbing dreams
Contrary to the popular myth, melatonin is not a substance from which one can form a use disorder. No studies have shown any kind of melatonin tolerance or addiction apparent in trial participants.
Melatonin is arguably the most effective way to treat minor sleep disorders like jet lag or simple insomnia. It can be highly effective at inducing and maintaining good quality sleep in most individuals who use it at a proper dosage. Most individuals require no more than 0.3 to five milligrams of supplemental melatonin; depending on the sensitivity of an individual to the hormone, doses of 0.3 or five milligrams are usually ideal. Many who take higher doses (>5mg) may report no change in sleep or modestly negative effects. The proper use of melatonin is worth scientifically investigating further, especially in conjunction with marijuana.
How Does Marijuana Affect Sleep?
Marijuana requires no introduction, as it remains one of the most regularly used psychoactive substances in the United States. The plant is grown as a source of Delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive component that affects individuals most immediately upon ignition of dried plant matter or the consumption of supplemental forms that contain the extracted form of THC.
Marijuana has shown an ability to disrupt sleep patterns on its own, inducing insomnia in daily users. Boston University suggests that increased anxiety in daily users of marijuana may play into sleep disruption in a significant way. According to a recent study led by Calvin Diep at the University of Toronto, those who used marijuana for 20 or more days during a single month were 64% more likely to sleep less than six hours a night and 76% more likely to sleep longer than nine hours a night. Marijuana strictly being used as a supplement for sleep is not recommended.
Despite the hit-or-miss nature of marijuana as a sleep supplement, those who may use small doses (~70mg) of THC-containing marijuana products irregularly may find it makes them sufficiently drowsy enough to decrease sleep onset time. This is consistent with current research on the relationship between marijuana and sleep patterns.
Can I Mix Melatonin and Weed?
When used in conjunction with melatonin, marijuana induces higher-than-normal melatonin production in the brain, which can throw off natural sleep patterns. There may very well be a law of diminishing returns at work when examining the interplay between marijuana and melatonin. Too much of any substance that may have marginal benefits for those who need something extra to help their sleep habits could ultimately end up being bad. Regardless, the mix of melatonin and marijuana is not recommended due to the lack of data on the mixture’s effects.
The downsides of combining the two drugs are:
- Increased irritability throughout the day
- Excessive drowsiness and inability to remain alert
- Headaches or migraines
There may be some upsides, however, which may include:
- Decreased sleep onset time
- Increased sleep efficiency
- Decreased anxiety at small doses
Before using any THC-containing product, please consult your local laws on the legality of the product. Delta-9-THC supplement and marijuana use is not legal in most states throughout the United States.
If you’re dealing with a marijuana use disorder, please contact Landmark Recovery to learn ways we can help you through addiction treatment. Call us today at 888-448-0302 to speak with a dedicated admissions specialist about our evidence-based treatment practices. We’re on a mission to save a million lives in the next century.
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