How to Deal With Marijuana Withdrawal Insomnia

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If you’re currently going through withdrawals and experiencing insomnia, you’re not the only one. According to a study done by NIDA in Baltimore on marijuana withdrawals, almost 51% of their subjects experienced sleeping issues including insomnia.

About 49% experienced insomnia alone. Just looking through forum threads you’ll find that people seeking help with insomnia or other sleep problems is extremely common.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia can be exhibited in a few different ways, such as:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Inability to fall back asleep after waking up

Insomnia can also be present with other sleep problems like extremely vivid dreaming with or without nightmares.

Anxiety, another extremely common withdrawal symptom, is often linked to insomnia, either as a cause or intensifier. Naturally an inability to sleep properly is going to cause anxiety. Likewise, feeling very anxious is going to prevent you from sleeping.

Am I Going to Experience Insomnia?

Unfortunately you won’t really know you’re going to have insomnia during withdrawals until it either happens or it doesn’t. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms can be unpredictable.  There are a number of different factors will dictate what symptoms you experience, if any, and how severe.

Factors Influencing Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you’ll experience insomnia (or any other withdrawal) can be dependent on factors such as:

  • Age: Based on statistics, older people are going to have a more difficult time than younger people. Theoretically, a man of 50 who has smoked daily for 5 years is going to experience more withdrawals with higher severity than a 25 year old man who has smoked the same amount for the same time.
  • Amount of Usage: Smoking a bowl once a day every day has a much milder effect on the body than smoking 5 bowls a day every day. The larger amount smoked = the more dramatic of a change your body will experience after quitting.
  • History of Use: Probably the most obvious, if you’ve been smoking for a very long time you are probably going to experience withdrawal symptoms. Those who smoke intermittently general experience mild symptoms or may not even notice a difference after a day or two.
  • Marijuana Used: The type of marijuana used also is a factor. People who use a high-grade, potent marijuana with strong THC levels tend to have more severe symptoms.
  • Psychological Expectations: Interestingly enough, if you become anxious about impending withdrawal symptoms you are more likely to experience them.

Generally you should expect to experience some withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been using marijuana regularly for 6 months or more. If you’ve been a heavy user for a number of years you are much more likely to experience stronger withdrawals. However, refrain from predicting what you’re going to experience since this can cause a more severe reaction just from your anxiety alone.

How to Counter Insomnia

Insomnia isn’t as innocent as a lack of sleep. Prolonged insomnia makes the withdrawal process much more difficult because it can cause or exacerbate other health issues like general fatigue/lethargy, delayed reaction times, irritability, high blood pressure and mental health issues (depression and anxiety primarily).

Thankfully there are a number of ways you can successfully counter insomnia during your withdrawal period. Not everyone will respond quickly to the same insomnia treatments so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t notice a difference at first.

  • Use A Sleep Aid: There are plenty of over-the-counter options for sleeping pills that may help. However, sometimes taking a medication isn’t the best method for a recovering marijuana addict. Instead you might want to try a natural sleep aid like liquid melatonin. Melatonin is non-addictive and quite effective.
  • Start Exercising Daily: Exercising is probably the last thing you feel like doing when you’re going through withdrawals but it can be incredibly helpful overall. Exercising is a highly recommended tool for people going through any type of withdrawal period from an addiction. It is especially helpful for people with insomnia to start exercising every day. Just be sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime since your workout might actually energize you for the first few hours afterwards.
  • Turn Your Bedroom Into a Sleep-Only Zone: We’ve all been guilty of lounging in bed while on the computer or watching TV. This might sound crazy but doing these things can actually train our bodies that lying in bed doesn’t mean sleep. It can be difficult at first but you need to stop the habit of using your bedroom as a hangout area and only use your bed to sleep or sex.

When you begin only lying in bed to go to sleep you’ll find that even if you didn’t feel that tired, after laying down your body will automatically begin entering a relaxing state that invites sleep. Also, make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.

 

  • Try to Avoid Naps after 3pm: This can be difficult for some people who rely on intermittent daytime naps to help them function but it really is necessary. Start limiting your naps to around 30 minutes (never over an hour) and only take a nap if it is before 3pm. Even if you’re really tired after 3pm, just stick it out until a decent bedtime and then go to sleep. Even if you don’t make it through the entire night you will usually sleep longer and much more restfully.

Some other tips include:

  • Moving your alarm clock out of view
  • Not using bright electronic devices 2hrs before bed
  • Using a guided sleep meditation (these can be found free on websites and YouTube)
  • Get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep
  • Practice anxiety control techniques

If you’re experiencing insomnia as a withdrawal symptom, don’t worry. According to studies, like the one mentioned earlier, insomnia as a symptom will tend to peak at around 3 or 4 days after quitting.

Within a week of quitting you should be experiencing some improved sleep and people experiencing only mild symptoms may have their sleep cycle completely back to normal within 2 weeks. Those who were heavy users for a long period of time may take up to a month before sleep issues are completely gone.

For those of you currently going through insomnia or other sleep-related withdrawal symptoms, don’t give up. The way you are feeling is only temporary and you will soon start being able to get some restful sleep. If you find that your insomnia is strongly affecting your life and you need relief, visit your doctor to find out what options they may have for you.

17 Comments

  • bk

    Reply Reply June 12, 2016

    Pls I really nid ur hlp bcuz d situation is getting out of hand itz my bf he smokes more than two a day 2 d extent DAT if does NT smoke,he CNT eat ND I reali nid HM 2 stp it he said that wen he LL stop it z wen we get married & he said dat he really nids stop it Bt he tries ND finds it difficult plz HW Cn he STP it I really nid ur hlp we really love each other &also begged me NT to leave HM in dz state I shld hlp me plz HW Cn he STP ND wat kind of withdrawal drugs Cn he tk 2 stp it .i LL be very grateful if u hlp me plz TNKZ & GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AMEN,MAY YOUR HEART DESIRES BE GRANTED AND MAY D LORD ALMIGHTY NEVA DEPART 4RM U & UR FAMILY AMEN

  • Toker

    Reply Reply August 11, 2016

    I’m 36 years of age and have been smoking since 14 years of age. Have smoked marijuana on a regular basis throughout- Been just over 2 months since giving up marijuana.

    I’m still suffering from insomnia although not as severe. Helps to eat healthy and do exercise and eventually it will go away.

    Best wishes to those trying to give up

    • AlsoAToker

      Reply Reply August 23, 2016

      Hi Toker,

      My history of usage is not all that different from what you allude to in your post. I’m facing insomnia as I try to quit and it’s quite frustrating. Have you tried any sleep aids to manage the insomnia? I’ve found melatonin to be ineffective (although it does seem to help me relax and feel drowsy).

      I’m debating coordinating with a physician to help manage this aspect of my withdrawal. I’ve been ready to make this change for some time but oddly enough my personal and professional responsibilities are a major impediment to struggling with insomnia for weeks or months (The claim that all ‘potheads’ are lazy sure does make me chuckle).

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply September 20, 2016

    So I decided to lay off weed for a while. I was a pothead for 7 months straight. I smoked between 4 and 12 grams a day. Now school is back and i am trying really hard. Unfortunately I have insomnia. I haven’t slept in almost 2 weeks. I have major headaches consistently that cause me to lose my hearing for a while. I don’t know if that is a withdrawal symptom or not but it sure as hell hurts. I have been losing weight really fast. In the past I had issues with being anorexic and after I got over that I finally was able to get to a normal weight and now I’m underweight again. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, my dad won’t take me to get medication for sleep and I can’t go on with no sleep like this forever. To be honest weed only ever helped my health. I never got sick on it and i slept like the dead. I had a great appetite and everything was normal. Unfortunately because I use to smoke so much every day I don’t really feel the affects of weed as much anymore but since I stopped smoking everyday I have been able to keep myself on a smoking schedule. I only smoke on the weekends. The problem is that I can’t fall asleep during the week when I have to wake up at 6 am for school. What should I do?

  • EB

    Reply Reply November 11, 2016

    The writer obviously never experienced weed withdrawal and insomnia. You can’t just sit still and “wait for a sleep wave” to come in. If it were that easy, why would insomnia even be a problem? The factor that makes withdrawal insomnia so scary is that you are tired, physically and mentally, but no matter how hard you try, you’re left completely awake with racing thoughts, uncomfortable sensations in your stomach, and a tightness in your abdomen that gives you an almost tic disorder-like need to move around. If you’re just gonna vaguely detail what withdrawals are, you might as well just type “just google it” and submit your article. Ridiculous.

    • John Mckee

      Reply Reply December 2, 2016

      Oh Alex. I have experienced the insomnia. I’ve slept 8 hours in 5 days. Don’t think that I haven’t been through it. I am sorry my writing hasn’t done it justice. Would you be open to writing what the withdrawal is like for you. I wrote my piece after the withdrawal, not during. I think your description is very powerful and accurate.

      John

      • Maddox

        Reply Reply December 14, 2016

        Hey John

        I myself have quit a couple of times, and to be honest, what really helps is the experience that it is going to be okay. The first time I quit weed I felt like I was losing it, going crazy – just totally bonkers. I coulnd’t sleep, eat and I was sweating like a mofo. This is the second time i 3 years I try to quit or at least take a break, since I would smoke about 10-15 joints a day. I’m 4 days clean now, and the first two days sucked but I’ll be fine. I try to get stuff done, so I don’t have to think about that I want to smoke, and to be honest it is working great. The only thing I dunno how to deal with is the insomnia and erectile dysfunction, since masturbation and sleep is a thing for me.

    • Andrea

      Reply Reply December 19, 2016

      How accurate. I have had the insomnia for about 3 months now and it does not really get better, my friends try to help with googled advice about different teas, natural remedies, meditation, exercise, I have tried all, but it does not really help/make difference. I have not that big problem to fall asleep (so exhausted already), but my brain switches on after about 2-3 hours of not very deep sleep. But I am not giving up yet – now I have time to read all the books 🙂

      • Andrea

        Reply Reply January 4, 2017

        Hi Andrea,

        I’m also an Andrea and I have exactly the same problem!! I fall asleep quite easily but then I wake up for a bathroom break and I cant get back to sleep… Went through a ‘withdrawl’ a few years ago already when I quit smoking and had really restless sleep and crazy dreams.. I did sleep most of the night then but woke up tired and confused. Back then I put it down to the fact that I moved to another country and didnt really blame it on the weed so much.. Now I see that it probably was the weed, or more so the relaxation that comes with it.. I mean thats the reason I smoked it in the first place anyway.. So its got something to do with that as well I think: the kind of person you were before u started smoking.. No weird dreams this time luckily. For anyone worried; it will go away at some point and you will be able to sleep fine all night.. But I have to admit (the way I feel now) there’s no sleep like a mary-j sleep..

        Keeping it up though! Good luck to everyone here!!

  • Medical Marijuana

    Reply Reply January 2, 2017

    I don`t understand why marijuana is legal if we get bad withdraws after.

  • Eric

    Reply Reply January 16, 2017

    I’m struggling so hard right now. It’s been over a month and I still can’t sleep through the night. Dreams keep waking me up and once I’m up it’s extremely difficult to fall back asleep. I know working out has worked in the past, but I just can’t find the energy with 3 hours of sleep/night. Try working out really hard people. I used to workout over 2 hours/day for 4 to 5 days/week. I did that immediately after stopping the first time around. I’ve waited too long after quitting this time and just can’t find it in me to hit the gym. On top of that I have chronic dry eye disease, so pain is hitting me super hard on a daily basis. I need to find a job now that I have a degree, so going back to smoking isn’t an option. Not sure what to do other than suffer until it goes away.

  • Kings

    Reply Reply February 2, 2017

    Hi guys, I would like to say, if you are experiencing withdrawals, be strong and just keep you eyes on a prize, it will be over, knowladge about about withdrawals helps you to understand what you going through thus eliminating the anxiety factor, so guys just keep your eyes on the prize.

  • leo

    Reply Reply March 11, 2017

    heavily smoked for 20 years. now i’m on week 5 cold turkey. only withdrawal symptom i have is insomnia. Going to bed at 10 getting up at 2. cant go back to sleep for 2 hours, then have to be up at 7..lorazepam helps to sleep uninterrupted for 7 hours. Dont wanna be on pills though….

  • y2k

    Reply Reply March 27, 2017

    so heres my story in my part of world we use charas or hashish and on and off i have been a user i think its been 7 years this time i am so depressed because of no job lost most of my friends and have nothing to look forward to intense suicidal thoughts what used to help me previously was motival and anti depressant would eventually make me fall asleep.I am addicted to valium to sleep although running out of it i used to get high on anything i could get my hands on so the doctor gave me deprel poor guy didnt know i would get high on that too firs time i od on it next sniffing it boy thats not a good trip.Have been paralyzed 3 times because of this as you can see i am not even writing in a proper order or a sequence but this time i will leave it for sure not gonna touch anything that can make me high or anything my main reason to do anything is to pass out i am afraid that i wont be able to sleep fear of sleep is that a thing although recently i am getting awake during the night for pee and or some noise.my favourite anti depressant isnt really available cant tell family either just a couple of friends know it
    the problem is i think once and addict always and addict.i wish i could just die and never exist

    cant find anything interesting and huge fan of jerking off while high i think thats more dangerous the stupid neurologist said i need to see a shrink i dont think that works i believe in pills

    can it be genetic ?

  • anotherformeruser

    Reply Reply April 2, 2017

    Thanks to all for posting and for the article- have found reading others experiences helpful and encouraging, and maybe/hopefully mine might be useful to someone. Like many, I have smoked heavily for >20yrs, with experiences of coming off before, but after 5yrs of especially heavy use the withdrawal is much stronger than ever before, and the associated level of insomnia-tiredness is new to me and very tough to deal with.

    I came here looking for indications as to how long the insomnia might last……
    theres not a whole lot to go on, and clearly its subjective, and there can be other factors at play- I hope/trust this is the case where people find little improvement after several months. I suppose once people get clean they are less likely to revisit sites/forums like this and volunteer their experiences.

    – exercising when very fatigued from lack of sleep is difficult to begin, and when I’ve succeeded in doing it my heart rate has rocketed more than it would otherwise. I exercise a lot more now, and this is great when Im a little rested (endorphins/achieved something etc.), but when Im not rested, I believe the ensuing especially elevated heart rate may do more harm than good with respect to cortisol levels…. taking a good walk/easy swim has been good when this is the case
    – Bracketing negative feelings /despair as resulting from tiredness has helped/is helping get me through the lows.
    – I have had restless leg/arm syndrome with insomnia in bed, which feels pretty awful. This is probably associated with a messed up dopamine system. Masturbation has made this go away each time (though I have almost no libido currently but, as with eating, Ive forced it, and its better than simply lying in bed kicking legs and waving arms). I guess if you have impotence associated with withdrawal this isn’t going to help, and I write from a male perspective. The restless leg syndrome has abated now, although libido is unchanged (14 days in).
    – yoga has been an emotional and physical godsend (thanks and respect to Tim sensesi yoga).

    Currently I’m very fatigued after getting short bouts of 1-4 hours sleep at random times each day for about 2 weeks; I think I need a decent bit of sleep (>4hours) to stay relatively functional, and in a positive mindset moving forward. I will try some kind of beta blocker tonight, though in the past this, like getting drunk, has never left me feeling well-rested. If it helps then Ill leave it as an option, but not again for several days after. Any thoughts here especially welcome!

    On a positive, despite the tiredness, fatigue and anxiety, my mind already feels a world apart from where I was (still love/hate cigarettes, but one step at a time). Focusing on this despite the fatigue is helping. reiterate ‘Andrea’s’ post – there can be positives re. time to read, and books have helped distract me from anxiety/personal thoughts.
    good luck and strength to all, and apologies for the essay

  • joseph

    Reply Reply April 12, 2017

    To anyone struggling still. I smoked weed since i was about 15 until i was around 30 with a few small breaks here and there. Finally i quit in my 30’s and it was as awful as everyone here obviously knows it is. Most things resolved but the sleep was a huge problem for months. I still get shitty sleep every now and then but for the most part i get 7+ a night. A few things that helped me…..
    1.) Valarian root(i prefer the liquid dripped into my fav calming tea)
    2.) Exercise, even if you are tired you can at the very least take a walk
    3.) Meditation(This helped less with insomnia than the other symptoms)
    4.) Theanine(another calming herb)
    these last two were suuuuuuuuuuuper helpful but must be used with caution as they can interact with medications
    5.) 5htp(helps with sleep and depression and to produce serotonin)
    6.) l-tyrosine(probably the best suppliment because it is the pre cursor to dopamine, this did wonders for me for sleep and everything else…takes time to become effective though)
    7.) your mindset

    Now that last one will make some people angry because it seems like another one of those “pretend everything is ok and it will be” things u hear ppl who have never suffered very much in there life say. Before i finally got sober off weed for good i had tried to quit and failed due to the shocking severity of the withdrawl. However the next time i tried to quit i sort of knew what to expect and it was easier. There was no difference other than i had a little confidence. I think the sudden onset of symptoms that no one really talks about much cause it’s “just pot” and the unexpected nature of it all threw me more than anything. Knowing what to expect helped lots because i wasn’t nearly as frightened. You can make it….the list of folks who have is much larger than you probably think(pretty much everyone in the 60’s). If you tough it out and get through the worst there is a better life out there, we all had that doubt that we could do it just like you do siting here reading this but we made it, and you can too! Don’t give up….
    You will sleep again i promise.
    You will laugh again i promise.
    You will eventually quit craving weed i promise.
    You will quit feeling like you are going crazy i promise.
    Food will taster good again i promise.
    Your moods and irritability will go away i promise.
    You WILL return to the “normal you” i PROMISE.

    love and patience to anyone still struggling
    -joseph-

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