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Insomnia and strange dreams are fairly common during marijuana withdrawal, but if they these cannabis detox symptoms make you so sleepy and irritable that you can't function during the day, you may be at risk of relapse. How can you overcome insomnia?

Normal, healthy humans spend more than a third of their lives asleep. That's a funny realization, isn't it? While all that sleep may seem like a waste of time, anyone who has ever had any trouble falling asleep or staying asleep knows how disruptive sleep deprivation is. In the short term, insomnia leads to fatigue and sleepiness, cognitive impairment, irritability, anxiety, and an increased likelihood of getting into accidents. [1]

Marijuana withdrawal is known to lead to a number of sleep difficulties in many new weed quitters — besides finding it hard to actually fall asleep in the first place, you may experience particularly vivid and strange dreams that wake you up and leave you unable to get a restful night's sleep. [2]

Whether you're a long-term weed user who has tried to quit marijuana before and has relapsed as the result of cannabis withdrawal symptoms that seemed unbearable at the time, or whether you've just read about marijuana detox and are worried, the prospect of insomnia may be particularly daunting. Not being able to sleep well may greatly aggravate all your other withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and irritability and headaches during weed detox, after all [3]. 

Nobody should suggest that marijuana withdrawal symptoms, including possible insomnia, ought to discourage you from overcoming your marijuana addiction or dependence — these cannabis detox symptoms don't tend to last longer than two weeks and will soon be over, after all [4]! In order to prevent relapse, however, you'll want to be prepared. 

How can you battle insomnia during your cannabis withdrawal period?

Benzodiazepines And Other Medications To Battle Insomnia During Marijuana Withdrawal

Not everyone who wants to stop smoking weed will be open to pharmacological intervention; the medications research has demonstrated to be helpful during marijuana withdrawal tend to require a prescription, which in turn means you have to see a doctor. People who have been using pot for a long time, have attempted to stop smoking weed unsuccessfully in the past, and know from experience that that are dealing with a serious marijuana addiction or dependence, however, may have come to see pharmaceutical intervention and medical help the best way to stop smoking weed. 

If this is you, and you already know that you will likely suffer from severe insomnia during marijuana withdrawal from experience, approaching your healthcare provider for a prescription may be the way to go.

Medications that have been shown to treat insomnia during weed detox include:

  • Benzodiazepines, commonly oxazepam, nitrazepam, or temezapam [2].
  • Extended-release Zolpidem, also marketed under the brand name Ambien [5].
  • Promethazine (Phenergan) [2]. 
  • Lithium, an antidepressant that can also help with other marijuana withdrawal symptoms [6]. 

Sleep Hygiene Matters During Marijuana Withdrawal 

"Sleep hygiene" refers to a set of behaviors that are known to induce restful sleep — like the body requires physical hygiene to function optimally, it also needs sleep hygiene. You can improve your sleep hygiene in preparation for quitting weed, or you can start now if you have already begun your marijuana withdrawal. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you get enough daylight during the day. 
  • Commit to a bedroom free of artificial light and electronics — and use your bedroom for nothing except sleep and sex. 
  • Get in some physical exercise every day to help you sleep better, but do not work out right before you are planning to go to sleep. 
  • Avoid ingesting fatty foods and carbonated drinks right before bedtime, and stay away from caffeine and alcohol before bed as well. 
  • Don't nap longer than half an hour during the daytime.

Research indicates that improving sleep hygiene can indeed help people with insomnia, particularly in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy [7].

Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

Progressive muscle relaxation is a known relaxation technique for anxiety, another fairly common marijuana withdrawal symptom. This relaxation technique involves first purposely tensing, and then intentionally relaxing, all muscle groups in the body. You may start from the head and move down through your body, tensing and relaxing all muscle you mentally come across, or you may start from the feet up.

Progressive relaxation induces a tranquility that has been shown to aid your ability to fall asleep if you practice it in bed [8]. 

Can Breathing Exercises Help You Overcome Your Insomnia During Weed Detox?

Breathing is something so simple, so fundamental — it's what we do to stay alive, whether we want to or not, and even when we do little else all day. The idea that something as simple as breathing exercises can help you overcome insomnia is silly to many people. However, it's probably because breathing is so fundamental that breathing exercises work. 

Yogic or pranayama breathing has indeed been shown to lead to significant improvements in insomnia sufferers' sleep quality [9]. Taking deep, long breaths in and then holding your breath for a time before exhaling slowly is the fundamental principle of breathing exercises. If you want to know more, check out these 2 breathing exercises for better sleep in insomnia sufferers. 

Breathing exercises are additionally beneficial for people going through marijuana withdrawal because they help in managing anxiety and depression during weed detox, as well [10]. 

Gradual Reduction: Should You Taper Off Your Weed Use?

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms are caused, in large part, by an abrupt discontinuation of weed use. If you want to avoid the harsher symptoms of weed detox, including insomnia and strange dreams, you may want to consider gradually tapering off weed rather than quitting all at once. You may not feel like you are achieving much if you commit to using marijuana less often, using smaller amounts in one sitting, or only smoking pot just before bed, but if you set yourself the goal of progressively lowering your weed intake until you are down to zero, you may avoid going through withdrawal. [2]

In Conclusion

Insomnia makes it hard to get through the day, and if you feel like you can't function normally without using weed, you may be tempted to relapse.

Techniques that help you avoid or at least lessen marijuana withdrawal symptoms including insomnia could be the key to your marijuana addiction recovery, in other words. 

If you are trying to quit weed for the first time, you may want to see if natural insomnia treatments can help you through your cannabis detox. Long-term users who have had unsuccessful quit attempts in the past will, on the other hand, strongly want to consider seeking medical help. 

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