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.