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What Happens To Your Body The Morning After Smoking Weed

Why you feel blah after eating that brownie.

If you’ve ever been hungover from drinking, then you already know how one night of boozy indulgence can really mess with your mood, well-being, and productivity the next day. And you might have found yourself in a similar sitch the day after eating both halves of a pot brownie. But are weed hangovers real? Some cannabis consumers swear they’ve endured weed-related hangover symptoms, but the experience is far from universal.

If you’ve experienced weird symptoms after staying away from weed for a while, it’s possible that your body has become used to a certain amount of cannabis regularly, and is having difficulty adjusting. “Marijuana withdrawal would be a more appropriate name for [a weeed hangover]” Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D., medical director of healthcare organization Sollis Health, tells Bustle. But a lot of the research on cannabis hangovers is based on people who use it heavily, seven times or more per month, and there’s not a lot of studies about occasional users and how they feel the morning after a big night.

With all of that in mind, here are four commonly reported symptoms of a weed hangover, why they happen, and what you can do to make yourself feel better if you ever experience one.

1. Headaches

Dr. Jordan Tishler M.D., an emergency medicine physician and cannabis specialist, tells Bustle that headaches are more likely to happen while you’re still intoxicated. If your head aches the morning after, you might just be dehydrated. A review of cannabis withdrawal symptoms after heavy use published in Current Addiction Reports in 2018 found that headache was a common symptom, along with chills and shakiness. It’s not really clear why this happens, but it’s possible that it’s to do with brain activity.

“Cannabis binds to neuron receptors, and has a complicated effect on neurotransmitters in the brain,” Dr. Braunstein says. “In chronic users, the brain becomes accustomed to a high level of dopamine.” Dopamine is is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in sensations of pleasure and reward. Without cannabis, dopamine levels can crash possibly leading to migraine, as one 2017 study published in Neurology found. But it’s not clear if all these puzzle pieces fit together for weed smokers.

The next time you spend your Saturday night getting baked with friends, just be sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your cannabis adventures.

2. Brain Fog

Of all the reported symptoms of a “weed hangover,” Dr. Tishler says brain fog and fatigue are the ones he anticipates. “The mechanism is unknown, but I suspect largely related [to] over-stimulation of the CB1 receptors.” These are the main receptors in the brain where cannabis ‘docks’, giving you all its positive effects.

If you smoke regularly and then stop, it could mess with your cognitive abilities. “If marijuana use is discontinued, dopamine levels drop and within about one week, the person can feel a state of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and even depression,” Dr. Braunstein says. This is why cannabis is seen as psychologically addictive, he says; it gives you a hard emotional time if you go through withdrawal. An overview of cannabis withdrawal in 2017 in Substance Abuse & Rehabilitation found that irritability, restlessness, disturbed mood, depression, and anger could all appear as symptoms.

Other than coffee, good food, and lots of sleep, one way to deal with brain fog is to get out and exercise. Try going for a long walk or run, then cool down with some yoga, and take a hot (or cold) shower afterwards. It may not make your mental fogginess go away completely, but you’ll definitely feel sharper and more alert.

3. Feeling Dehydrated

While studies show that THC can bind itself to the CB1 receptors on our salivary glands, causing them to dry up — aka, dry mouth — Dr. Tishler tells Bustle that dehydration isn’t directly caused by weed. “Dehydration and dry eyes are really not related to cannabis,” he says. If you’re feeling dried out the day after consuming cannabis, it’s probably because you were already dehydrated when you started smoking; or it might be because you didn’t remember to hydrate while you were getting lifted.

Dehydration is pretty easy to avoid. To rehydrate and recover after waking up dehydrated, drink lots of water, and chow down on water-rich fruits and veggies throughout your day.

4. Fatigue

For the most part, weed can actually help some people fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. But if you smoke weed before bed, it’s possible that your high could be messing with the quality of your sleep, ultimately making you feel fatigued the day after you smoke. A study published in 2017 in Psychopharmacology also found that withdrawal from cannabis meant a rise in poor sleep quality, so if you’re a heavy user going without for a while, you might feel a bit more tired.

Naturally, the best way to remedy this hangover symptom is by getting lots of sleep — but if that’s not an option for you due to work or social obligations, then all you can really do is try to treat your body well throughout the day. Drink coffee and water, eat healthy meals, go for a long walk, and consider taking the day off from weed.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Tishler says time is really all any cannabis consumer should need to get back to “normal,” and he advises practicing moderation in all things. “If you’re experiencing weed hangover, likely you’re using too much,” Tishler says.

Also worth remembering? Any product that claims to relieve a pot hangover is likely too good to be true. “There are many products claiming to address this problem, or over-intoxication in general, and I’d advise staying away from them,” Dr. Tishler says. “There is no science yet to suggest that these products are effective, and since they are not regulated at all, there’s no reason to expect that they are safe to use.”

Readers should note that laws governing cannabis, hemp and CBD are evolving, as is information about the efficacy and safety of those substances. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Always consult your physician prior to trying any substance or supplement.

Dr. Scott Braunstein M.D.

Dr. Jordan Tishler M.D.

Baron, E. P., Lucas, P., Eades, J., & Hogue, O. (2018). Patterns of medicinal cannabis use, strain analysis, and substitution effect among patients with migraine, headache, arthritis, and chronic pain in a medicinal cannabis cohort. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s10194-018-0862-2

Bonnet, U., & Preuss, U. W. (2017). The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 8, 9–37. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S109576

DaSilva, A. F., Nascimento, T. D., Jassar, H., Heffernan, J., Toback, R. L., Lucas, S., DosSantos, M. F., Bellile, E. L., Boonstra, P. S., Taylor, J., Casey, K. L., Koeppe, R. A., Smith, Y. R., & Zubieta, J. K. (2017). Dopamine D2/D3 imbalance during migraine attack and allodynia in vivo. Neurology, 88(17), 1634–1641. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000003861

Jacobus, J., Squeglia, L.M., Escobar, S. et al. Changes in marijuana use symptoms and emotional functioning over 28-days of monitored abstinence in adolescent marijuana users. Psychopharmacology234, 3431–3442 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4725-3

Mathew, R. J., Wilson, W. H., Turkington, T. G., & Coleman, R. E. (1998). Cerebellar activity and disturbed time sense after THC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9666122

Piper, B. J., Beals, M. L., Abess, A. T., Nichols, S. D., Martin, M. W., Cobb, C. M., & DeKeuster, R. M. (2017). Chronic pain patients’ perspectives of medical cannabis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845915/

Prestifilippo, J. P., Fernández-Solari, J., de la Cal, C., Iribarne, M., Suburo, A. M., Rettori, V., … Elverdin, J. C. (2006). Inhibition of salivary secretion by activation of cannabinoid receptors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16946411

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Stein, M. D. (n.d.). Marijuana use patterns and sleep among community-based young adults. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10550887.2015.1132986

This article was originally published on Oct. 14, 2015

Cannabis withdrawal can feel like many different things, but people commonly report these four symptoms of a weed hangover.

Does marijuana affect your sleep?

Author

Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan

Disclosure statement

Deirdre Conroy does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

University of Michigan provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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If you speak to someone who has suffered from insomnia at all as an adult, chances are good that person has either tried using marijuana, or cannabis, for sleep or has thought about it.

This is reflected in the many variations of cannabinoid or cannabis-based medicines available to improve sleep – like Nabilone, Dronabinol and Marinol. It’s also a common reason why many cannabis users seek medical marijuana cards.

I am a sleep psychologist who has treated hundreds of patients with insomnia, and it seems to me the success of cannabis as a sleep aid is highly individual. What makes cannabis effective for one person’s sleep and not another’s?

While there are still many questions to be answered, existing research suggests that the effects of cannabis on sleep may depend on many factors, including individual differences, cannabis concentrations and frequency of use.

Cannabis and sleep

Access to cannabis is increasing. As of last November, 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia had legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Research on the effects of cannabis on sleep in humans has largely been compiled of somewhat inconsistent studies conducted in the 1970s. Researchers seeking to learn how cannabis affects the sleeping brain have studied volunteers in the sleep laboratory and measured sleep stages and sleep continuity. Some studies showed that users’ ability to fall and stay asleep improved. A small number of subjects also had a slight increase in slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep.

However, once nightly cannabis use stops, sleep clearly worsens across the withdrawal period.

Over the past decade, research has focused more on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Individuals with insomnia tend to use medical cannabis for sleep at a high rate. Up to 65 percent of former cannabis users identified poor sleep as a reason for relapsing. Use for sleep is particularly common in individuals with PTSD and pain.

This research suggests that, while motivation to use cannabis for sleep is high, and might initially be beneficial to sleep, these improvements might wane with chronic use over time.

Does frequency matter?

We were interested in how sleep quality differs between daily cannabis users, occasional users who smoked at least once in the last month and people who don’t smoke at all.

We asked 98 mostly young and healthy male volunteers to answer surveys, keep daily sleep diaries and wear accelerometers for one week. Accelerometers, or actigraphs, measure activity patterns across multiple days. Throughout the study, subjects used cannabis as they typically would.

Our results show that the frequency of use seems to be an important factor as it relates to the effects on sleep. Thirty-nine percent of daily users complained of clinically significant insomnia. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of occasional users had insomnia complaints. There were no differences in sleep complaints between nonusers and nondaily users.

Interestingly, when controlling for the presence of anxiety and depression, the differences disappeared. This suggests that cannabis’s effect on sleep may differ depending on whether you have depression or anxiety. In order words, if you have depression, cannabis may help you sleep – but if you don’t, cannabis may hurt.

Future directions

Cannabis is still a schedule I substance, meaning that the government does not consider cannabis to be medically therapeutic due to lack of research to support its benefits. This creates a barrier to research, as only one university in the country, University of Mississippi, is permitted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to grow marijuana for research.

New areas for exploration in the field of cannabis research might examine how various cannabis subspecies influence sleep and how this may differ between individuals.

One research group has been exploring cannabis types or cannabinoid concentrations that are preferable depending on one’s sleep disturbance. For example, one strain might relieve insomnia, while another can affect nightmares.

Other studies suggest that medical cannabis users with insomnia tend to prefer higher concentrations of cannabidiol, a nonintoxicating ingredient in cannabis.

This raises an important question. Should the medical community communicate these findings to patients with insomnia who inquire about medical cannabis? Some health professionals may not feel comfortable due to the fluctuating legal status, a lack of confidence in the state of the science or their personal opinions.

At this point, cannabis’s effect on sleep seems highly variable, depending on the person, the timing of use, the cannabis type and concentration, mode of ingestion and other factors. Perhaps the future will yield more fruitful discoveries.

Many hope that marijuana will help their insomnia. A sleep psychologist examines the evidence. ]]>