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The legalization of marijuana (also known as cannabis or weed) for medical and recreational use is happening in many states (Bowles, 2017). As a result, more people are trying weed and have questions about what it shouldn’t be mixed with. One such question is: Is it safe to mix melatonin supplements and weed?
While there have yet to be formal studies on the safety of mixing weed with melatonin, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and speak with your healthcare provider prior to mixing the two due to the side effects each substance can have. Let’s learn a little more about how weed and melatonin affect the body.
Can you mix melatonin and weed?
If you’re questioning if it’s safe to combine weed and melatonin, a supplement often used as a short-term sleep aid, there isn’t a clear answer. The medical community needs to conduct more research before it can safely answer this question, and to date, scientists haven’t done any formal clinical studies to test the combination.
But we do know that both melatonin and weed can make you sleepy, so combining the two could potentially lead to more drowsiness and sedation than you expected. To be on the safe side, if you use medical marijuana or if you partake recreationally, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before combining it with a melatonin supplement.
Side effects of mixing melatonin and weed
Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe, especially when you mix it with other things. The combined side effects of taking melatonin supplements and weed aren’t known for sure, but separate studies of each substance show that they can cause side effects.
Common side effects reported with marijuana use include (Whiting, 2015):
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Euphoria (feeling “high”)
- Reduced awareness of time and surroundings
- Loss of balance
People take melatonin supplements before they go to bed. They don’t typically cause side effects, but there have been reports of higher doses causing drowsiness, nausea, and headaches (Savage, 2021).
The concern is that having both of these substances in your system simultaneously could make the overlapping side effects (nausea and drowsiness) worse. Keep in mind that drinking alcohol with melatonin supplements could also make these side effects—and your sleep quality—worse.
Melatonin vs. weed for sleep
Some research suggests that cannabis could alter the sleep-wake cycle and increase natural melatonin levels (Bowles, 2017). Also, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active compound in weed, binds with specific receptors in the brain and leads to sedation or drowsiness (Ramar, 2018).
So, if your body’s natural melatonin gets a boost from weed, and its active ingredient can make you feel sleepy, then it doesn’t seem necessary to take a melatonin supplement before going to bed.
Like melatonin, people commonly use weed as a sleep aid. But there seems to be a difference in how well weed works for sleep if you use it daily compared to occasional use.
Insomnia: what is it, symptoms, causes, treatments
One study’s results showed that daily cannabis use was associated with more sleep disturbances compared to twice-per-week cannabis use (Conroy, 2016). Another study found that most heavy marijuana users had trouble getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night and also reported poor sleep quality (Pacek, 2017). So, if you smoke or consume weed heavily and have sleep problems, it might be worth trying to cut back on the weed to see if your sleep improves.
Using melatonin or weed for sleep disorders
When it comes to the long-term treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) does not recommend melatonin as a sleep aid due to the lack of strong evidence behind it. They do not mention weed in these guidelines at all (Sateia, 2017).
But, the AASM specifically recommends against the use of medical cannabis as a sleep aid in people with a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, you stop breathing for short periods during sleep (Ramar, 2018).
What about mixing melatonin and CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent component in weed (marijuana) and doesn’t cause a “high.”
Some cannabinoid supplements that contain both melatonin and CBD are currently available. These products may be promoted as sleep aids. But, in the United States, dietary supplements are not required to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Clinical studies are ongoing, but there’s no strong evidence to back up the safety or effectiveness of these CBD blend supplements (Kaul, 2021).
When to talk to a healthcare provider
Before combining sedating substances like melatonin and weed, it is best to talk to a healthcare professional. This is especially important if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or have other medical conditions.
Also, if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, a healthcare provider can help. They’ll want to check you for any undiagnosed health condition that could be causing insomnia or making it worse. If they can identify and treat an underlying reason, the hope is that you won’t need to take anything—or consider mixing substances—to help you fall asleep. Instead, getting into healthy bedtime routines, like limiting screen time before bed, can be helpful.
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- Conroy, D. A., Kurth, M. E., Strong, D. R., Brower, K. J., & Stein, M. D. (2016). Marijuana use patterns and sleep among community-based young adults. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 35(2), 135–143. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2015.1132986 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911998/
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- Kaul, M., Zee, P. C., & Sahni, A. S. (2021). Effects of cannabinoids on sleep and their therapeutic potential for sleep disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 18(1), 217–227. doi: 10.1007/s13311-021-01013-w Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33580483/
- Pacek, L. R., Herrmann, E. S., Smith, M. T., & Vandrey, R. (2017). Sleep continuity, architecture and quality among treatment-seeking cannabis users: An in-home, unattended polysomnographic study. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 25(4), 295–302. doi: 10.1037/pha0000126 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6309181/
- Ramar, K., Rosen, I. M., Kirsch, D. B., Chervin, R. D., Carden, K. A., Aurora, R. N., et al. (2018). Medical cannabis and the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 14(4), 679–681. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.7070. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5886446/
- Sateia, M. J., Buysse, D. J., Krystal, A. D., Neubauer, D. N., & Heald, J. L. (2017). Clinical practice guideline for the pharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia in adults: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 13(2), 307–349. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6470. Retrieved from https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.6470
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Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.