My story of marijuana withdrawal and insomnia is something that I’ve been putting off writing about for a long time.
My closest friends and confidants always knew that I liked a toke or two, but for someone who had spent many years working in a high-profile job in the finance industry, who was generally viewed as an educated and respected person, my weed habit is something that I kept under wraps for many, many years.
I mean, it just wasn’t the done thing for someone in my position.
To be completely honest, I never (assumed) suffered with insomnia back in the day, as I would typically have a quick smoke before bed, and I was zonked out within a matter of minutes, snoring away (I wasn’t a big weed smoker you understand, but it was a daily habit I had nonetheless).
It wasn’t until a few years later after I’d finally given up weed (approximately 7 to be precise) when I first started researching insomnia and various other sleep disorders that I began to realize that good old Mary Jane wasn’t giving me as good a night’s rest as I had always assumed.
But the one thing I will never, ever forget when I finally did stop smoking is the endless weeks upon weeks, in fact months, of sleepless nights.
Trust me, I talk from personal experience here, when I say marijuana withdrawal and insomnia go hand-in-hand and that is the basis of my article today.
How Does Marijuana Withdrawal Affect Sleep?
Firstly, I need to clarify my own position here – I wasn’t a heavy weed smoker, typically one or two joints a night (possibly three or four at the weekends).
However, this was pretty much a daily habit for around 15 years, so Yes, I viewed myself as an addict.
I know many people struggle with the word “addiction” and it’s not until you are truly free of any substance abuse (and that’s what it is) that you finally realize that you are an addict.
I didn’t smoke marijuana morning, noon and night, but because it was a regular occurrence for me, I viewed myself as an addict.
So, my use of the term “addict” is not meant as a personal slur on anyone else, this is just my personal opinion on how I viewed my own habit.
Now, before I go any further with this article, I know from my first few days and weeks of being off the weed (and pretty much every day while I was smoking marijuana) reading an article, even something that may be of extreme relevance to me, would seem cumbersome.
To be honest, I didn’t have the patience, interest or concentration levels to stay focused.
So, if you want an immediate solution for your marijuana withdrawal and insomnia, my suggestion would be to check out my review of the 7 Day Mind Balancing Plan.
This is a program aimed at helping you sleep by using breathing techniques and a 3-minute sleep ritual that has even proven successful for people who have suffered with insomnia for years and years.
So, if you want something that will potentially help you sleep well from tonight, please check out my review. If as a recently retired week smoker you can’t even be bothered to read the review (I know the drill and I feel your pain), you can go straight through to the program from here, and then click the link directly below the video for immediate access.
Okay, back to the subject matter at hand.
I would say that every person and their “addiction” is different, but something about weed withdrawal we can all agree on is the fact that once you give up, most of us will face problems with getting to sleep and also staying asleep.
In fact, the vast majority of people may take up to six months (or even longer) until they return to normal sleeping patterns. With that being said, the initial phase, let’s say the first week to a month, is particularly troublesome.
This is simply because your body is out of whack and it also takes time for the THC to leave your system (the most common view is that it takes 28 days). The time you spent smoking weed and living that type of lifestyle will have changed the way your body works as a whole, and this includes your sleeping patterns.
I mentioned above, I typically had a joint most nights before I went to bed, and in my mind this totally knocked me out. I felt I slept like a baby until the following morning.
However, what I didn’t realize until many years later was that this wasn’t quality sleep. Plus the fact that I woke up feeling a little groggy had absolutely nothing to do with a “weed hangover” as I assumed. This was never as bad as an alcohol hangover, and I could function fairly normally by about mid-morning, or so I thought (wrong again).
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The grogginess and lethargy I felt the following day is because the “sleep” I had, lacked severely in quality, and I potentially wasn’t getting enough deep sleep and REM sleep, and this adversely impacted me the following day.
The reason I mention this is because one of the biggest temptation’s I had when I first gave up weed was simply to start smoking again, just so I could get a “decent night’s sleep”. Many years on I now realize I was never resting peacefully in the first place.
So, please resist the temptation to return to Mary Jane, no matter how strong her allure is. Stick with me, I’ll help you through, as we next look at the best ways to ease insomnia during weed withdrawal.
3 Ways to Conquer Marijuana Withdrawal and Insomnia
1. Let There Be NO Light
One particular habit I had when I did smoke weed was to watch endless episodes of some Netflix serial while I laid in bed. Actually, come to think of it, “watching” may be pushing it somewhat, as normally by the 2nd episode I was in a haze and not paying particular attention to what was happening on the screen in front of me.
However, I now know that watching TV in bed, in fact any type of screen, is an absolute no-no.
I have spoken in many articles on this website about melatonin and the effects screen time can have on it during the hours leading up to sleep.
Melatonin can best be described as the sleep hormone the body secretes when it feels bedtime is approaching.
This typically takes place as dusk begins to draw in, so light (natural or unnatural) plays a big part in when the body decides to release this sleep-inducing hormone.
This is going to sound a little harsh and probably quite difficult to achieve. Giving up marijuana is probably hard enough, but without something to keep your mind occupied in the hours before going to bed, it may seem impossible.
However, the blue light emitted by devices such as TVs, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. simply fools the brain into thinking that it’s “daytime” and this delays the release of melatonin, making it much harder for you to sleep.
I would suggest turning the electronics off a minimum of an hour before you go to sleep. In their place you can listen to relaxing music, read a physical book (this may be difficult in the first few weeks of weed withdrawal, so choose a subject that you really love), have a soothing bath, or shock/horror you could try chatting with the other members of your household.
Whatever you decide to do, just stay away from the electronic equipment.
2. Habit and Routine Are Not Your Enemies
Back during my weed smoking days, I would often watch hours pass by without actually doing a single thing. This was especially on days off from work or weekends if I chose to have a toke quite early in the day.
In fact, this happened quite often – I would smoke my first joint at around midday and just lay aimlessly in front of the TV, watching nothing in particularly until it was time to roll another.
It was a frequent occurrence to completely lose about 8,9, 10 hours a day like this without actually doing anything of note and without achieving anything.
Once you’ve given up the weed you often don’t actually know what to do with your time. In fact, I spent the first week or two not doing anything particularly differently, which typically led me to think non-stop about smoking.
It wasn’t until I started to research sleep many years later that I realized just how bad this actually was when it came to getting a good night’s rest.
One of the biggest problems most people face when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep (and not just ex-weed smokers) is having countless thoughts and basically overthinking just as you’re getting into bed.
Your mind appears to be a non-stop chattering mess and you simply can’t seem to shut it up. This typically happens to the vast majority of people who suffer with insomnia.
In fact, I would hazard a guess that an overactive brain is probably the biggest cause of sleepless nights for most people.
What I eventually discovered was that I just wasn’t keeping my mind occupied enough throughout the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d go to work and I’d be busy and I’d have plenty to be getting on with. But, as soon as I got home I would slump onto the couch, flick the TV on, and that was pretty much me for the night.
In order to deal with marijuana withdrawal, especially in terms of sleeping at night, I found that creating regular habits and routines for myself, and actually doing stuff was a huge help.
I always enjoyed exercising, but this would generally take a back seat during my days on the weed. So, I made sure that I went straight to the gym after work. It was a bit of a struggle for the first week or so, but it soon became a habit that I started to enjoy.
When I got home after the gym, I would shower and grab dinner at pretty much the same time most evenings. This also became a habit.
I later learned that creating a routine every night leading up to sleep was vital to me for sleeping through the night. In a way I was almost preparing my mind and body to get ready for bed a good couple of hours in advance.
My favorite methods now involve listening to music for a while, followed by reading something that isn’t too taxing for my brain and thinking power, and I enjoy writing in a journal.
I would usually split my journal writing into 2 parts – firstly, I’d spend 10-15 minutes having a complete brain dump and just getting everything off my mind. It could be as simple as feeling upset because I’d had an argument earlier in the day, or I’d been given the wrong coffee at Starbucks in the morning. Whatever was troubling me, no matter how big or small, I wrote it down.
Then I’d spend 10 minutes jotting down things that happened to me that I was grateful for. That could be getting a pat on the back from my boss, shaving 2 seconds of my 5k time, getting the right coffee in the morning. Basically, anything that made me smile and feel grateful.
The routine I had created of listening to music, reading and writing for a couple of hours before bed soon became a habit. Eventually my mind knew it was time to go to sleep, and I actually felt far more relaxed as soon as I got under the covers.
3. Who Knew Breathing Was Important?
I have very briefly spoken about breathing exercises above and I have entire articles on this website dedicated to breathing exercises to help insomnia. But, I never knew just how helpful they could be.
To be honest, it sounds a bit daft, possibly a little hippy, or even totally “out there” to suggest that performing breathing exercises could in some ways help you get a better night’s sleep.
I’m not entirely sure why breathing exercises worked for me, but they did. I honestly believe it was a combination of three things:
- Having to focus and concentrate solely on one thing
- Relaxation techniques
- The placebo effect
I should also add that breathing exercises aren’t just a great sleep enhancer for ex-weed smokers, but for just about anyone who struggles with sleep.
Focus on a breathing exercise, such as the 4 7 8 technique, usually involves having to really concentrate. You’re counting in your mind, you’re having to breath in for a certain length of time, you’re required to hold your breath for a few seconds, and then you must breath out in a purposeful way.
This level of concentration, especially just before bed, is very similar to meditation in that very little else is going through your head. This can be a fantastic way to quieten down your mind.
Then there are the benefits to breathing (not something I thought I’d ever say – I always assumed we just breathed in order to live, nothing more).
I guess I should’ve known better – with exercise you are taught to breathe in a certain way in order to catch your breath and to slow down your heart rate. The same can be said when someone is hyperventilating.
So, breathing in itself has various relaxing qualities, which can help to calm your heart rate, and it appears, also your mind.
I’ve mentioned the placebo effect simply from a personal perspective.
I am now utterly convinced that practicing my breathing exercises 10-15 minutes before bed is critical to me getting a good night’s sleep. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I will not sleep well without doing them.
This is both a positive and negative thing. It means that I have added something else to my arsenal to help me sleep (plus created another good habit), but it also means that if for any reason I miss a night here or there of performing my pre-bed breathing exercises I will convince myself that I’m not going to sleep well that night (overthinking enters the equation once more).
Luckily, the breathing techniques I have learned, such as the 4 7 8 method, can be completed in under 2-3 minutes. So, time isn’t really an issue.
Marijuana withdrawal and insomnia is very real and I know from personal experience just how frustrating this can be.
More often than not, my lack of sleep almost led me to going back to weed again – anything just to get a decent night’s rest.
I have spoken of the 7 Day Mind Balancing Program, which among many other things, focuses on breathing techniques to help you sleep.
Then we have the issue of suppressing melatonin by using electronics too close to bedtime.
This means that you’ll have to find other things to do as the time for sleep approaches and the best way to do this is to create new habits and routines that keep you occupied.
Getting a decent night’s rest is extremely important to every single person on this earth.
However, if you’re struggling to cope with withdrawal symptoms from dropping your weed habit you may be sorely tempted to return to Mary Jane just so you can crash out and get a decent night’s sleep.
My advice – Don’t.
This article is just a snippet of ways to overcome insomnia and to get a better night’s sleep.
You have an entire website dedicated to this subject, so help yourself, look around, and find that perfect solution for you.