According to a new study, the daily use of cannabis by older adults is associated with improved sleep duration, as sleep is a major issue that patients medicate for. This new study from the University of California at San Diego is unique because it looks at cannabis use and how it can help sleep for seniors both with and without HIV.
“Researchers with the University of California at San Diego assessed the relationship between daily cannabis use and sleep quality over a 14-day period in a cohort of older adults (ages 50 to 70) with and without HIV,” the study explains when giving an overview of procedures used and the setting of the study. “Participants wore actigraphy watches during the study period to objectively assess their quality of sleep.”
The Results of The Study
The researchers found that overall, cannabis helped seniors get, on average, an 30 extra minutes of sleep. Those being studied used smartphones and actigraphy watches to log their sleep patterns, similar to the way sleep patterns are logged by smartwatch devices. The patients recorded when they fell asleep and woke up and if they took the watches off.
Currently, there are mixed findings on how cannabis impacts sleep quality when all the research is compared. This probably depends on things like frequency and amount of use, type of cannabis, and reasons for use.
This particular study was carried out because there are more older people living with HIV than in previous years, and elderly people with HIV often have issues with sleep quality and try to find ways to improve their sleep. There was not much information on this population, so the study sought to get more details.
“Overall, this study demonstrates that coupling smartphone-based EMA and actigraphy devices to examine the relationship between cannabis use and sleep in the real-world can provide novel insights into the temporal relationships of these behavioral cofactors,” the authors state. “In our small sample, findings showed cannabis use was associated with longer sleep duration later that night but was not associated with sleep efficiency nor sleep fragmentation. As recreational and medicinal cannabis use continues to rise, new methodologies that utilize technology … will prove useful to further characterize and investigate the relationship between cannabis use in the real world and health behaviors across the lifespan.”
The authors also hope to see the study repeated with larger sample sizes that can gather more detail about cannabis use in seniors. It also acknowledged that causality cannot be assumed, and that variations in sleep could also be due to other factors.
While even those who carried out the study admit that research is still in its early stages and more work needs to be done, it’s clear that cannabis and sleep have a strong connection, especially in cases where patients are medicating to help with sleep problems.