Q&A: I find that having a drink or smoking up before getting in bed makes it easier to fall asleep. Is there a downside to that as long as I don’t make a habit of it?
Some drugs like marijuana and alcohol slow you down and “mellow” you out. While it sometimes helps with the “falling asleep” part of sleeping, most of us discover that it is not a particularly re-energizing, restorative sleep, often leaving us nearly as beat as when we went to sleep. Part of the “hung-over” feeling is the result of falling asleep but not getting the full restful sleep you need. This anecdotal evidence was confirmed by a 2011 Stanford University sleep study. Healthy 21 year old subjects who were given alcohol before bedtime for a few weeks showed “increased slow-wave sleep during the first half of sleep, but then their sleep became disruptive.” The study concluded that “alcohol interferes with the restorative functions of sleep.”
Long time marijuana users report much the same effect. While they say that smoking initially helps them fall asleep, staying asleep is another matter; they often find themselves waking up 3-5 hours later as the THC moves out of their system. Awake, but not feeling so great.
For more information about getting the Z’s you need, visit the National Sleep Foundation website.