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Cannabis vs. Alcohol: Which Is Preferable For Better Sleep Among Those Suffering From Anxiety?

Patricio Liddle
November 24, 2023

A recent study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, reveals a significant finding: people with anxiety experience better sleep quality when using cannabis compared to alcohol or no substance at all. 

Researchers from the Universities of Colorado, Haifa and Colorado State analyzed 347 individuals using cannabis for anxiety, investigating how cannabis, alcohol, neither, or both impacted their sleep.

Breaking Down The Key Findings

Participants reported improved sleep on days with only cannabis use and on days combining cannabis and alcohol, but not on alcohol-only days. Frequent users of both substances noted higher sleep quality on cannabis-only days compared to those who used these substances less often.

The study confirmed its hypothesis: cannabis use alone enhances perceived sleep quality. Notably, sleep quality was better after cannabis-only use than on co-use days, adding evidence to cannabis’s sleep-enhancing properties.

Alcohol Vs. Cannabis: Impact On Sleep

The study also discovered that alcohol, while aiding in falling asleep, does not improve overall sleep quality, particularly when compared to cannabis. Contrary to expectations, frequent cannabis users did not exhibit decreased sleep quality over time, suggesting tolerance doesn't diminish its sleep effects.

Future Research And Implications

Researchers acknowledge the need for more studies to understand how different cannabis types and dosages impact sleep, emphasizing the importance of exploring the effects of cannabis and alcohol on sleep in clinical trials. They also suggest further research to examine how the frequency of substance use affects immediate sleep and substance use associations, especially among those using cannabis to alleviate anxiety.

Redefining Sleep Aids: Cannabis As A Preferred Choice

This study aligns with broader research indicating cannabis’s positive impact on sleep. According to Marijuana Moment, a separate survey found that many cannabis users with sleep issues prefer cannabis over other sleep aids, citing better outcomes and fewer side effects. Additionally, a 2019 study revealed a decline in over-the-counter sleep medication purchases in areas with legal access to cannabis, highlighting cannabis as a favorable alternative to traditional sleep aids.

This comprehensive study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, particularly for individuals with anxiety seeking to get a good night’s sleep.

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