Can You Take Melatonin and Weed Together?

Can you take melatonin and weed together?
By Halla Mannering Updated May 8th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

If you struggle to fall asleep, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 14.5% of U.S. adults have difficulty falling asleep most days. Given the prevalence of sleep difficulties, it’s no surprise that in 2020, the CDC found that 8.4% of American adults took some form of sleep medication. 

Melatonin is a sleep aid that’s naturally produced by the brain, but it’s also available at most grocery and convenience stores. It works by utilizing the body’s biological mechanisms to bring about sleep. 

Interestingly, cannabis is another natural substance that people have turned to for help to get a good night’s sleep. Due to the popularity of both melatonin and weed, many people wonder if they can be combined safely. 

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What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the brain. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the body’s sleep cycles. When it gets dark, the body increases the natural production of melatonin with the goal of inducing sleep. In the morning, once the eyes begin to detect light, the body slows down melatonin production. This signals the body to wake up.

While the body produces its own melatonin, it doesn’t always make enough to facilitate sleep on a consistent basis successfully. People who have difficulty falling asleep may begin taking melatonin supplements. These supplements increase the amount of melatonin in the body, which helps trigger sleep. 

People use melatonin to help get to sleep for various reasons. Common reasons people turn to melatonin are:

  • Insomnia 
  • Jet lag
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Neurological and neurodegenerative disorders
  • Trouble sleeping related to working late or night shifts

Melatonin doesn’t have many side effects, but the most commonly occurring include:

  • Sleepiness during the day / unwanted drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

While melatonin is generally considered safe, experts warn against using melatonin while pregnant or breastfeeding. Speaking with your doctor before adding a new supplement to your health and wellness routine is always important. They’ll also be able to rule out any other health concerns that may be leading to a lack of sleep.

Can You Take Weed With Melatonin? Are There Risks?

Can you take melatonin with weed?

Can weed and melatonin be used together to help promote sleep?

Unfortunately, there is very little research that has been done to answer the safety behind combining THC and melatonin. This is common for many potential cannabis applications and interactions, and widespread public use has demonstrated a need for more research.

The most significant risk that could come from using this combination is being overly drowsy or staying tired past waking up in the morning. It’s unlikely that someone would experience any life-threatening effects from using this combination, but that doesn’t mean that this combination should be taken lightly or in high amounts.

Knowledge about combining cannabis and melatonin comes from personal accounts and experiences. Some people report that when they use this combination, they experience increased effects. While this may be tempting for some people with trouble sleeping, it’s important to speak with your doctor about combination decisions like this. 

While the safety aspect of combining cannabis and melatonin is not overly researched, significant adverse effects are unlikely if used in moderation. 

Are There Benefits to Taking Weed and Melatonin Together?

The benefit of combining cannabis and melatonin is the same as the risk; the combination will induce sleepiness. Combining cannabis and melatonin may lead to more potent effects than either offers on its own, and that can be desirable to some. 

Some products marketed for sleep troubles combine cannabinoids, often hemp-derived CBD, with melatonin. Although research is limited, user reports suggest there may not be much risk when both are taken together. However, because the level of drowsiness can be unpredictable, it is generally recommended to do your own research and speak with a doctor before combining the two. Additionally, consumers should avoid driving or using heavy machinery if using melatonin with CBD, THC, or other cannabinoids.

Can Weed Replace Melatonin?

Does weed make you sleepy like melatonin?

Does weed make you sleepy?

It has been found that THC has the ability to alter the sleep cycle, reducing REM sleep and stage 3 sleep. This same 2021 study notes that positive sleep effects are typically received from lower doses of cannabis, whereas larger doses of THC may have adverse effects on the sleep cycle.1

Research has found that cannabinoids like THC have the ability to regulate the pineal gland, which can impact the body’s melatonin secretion. This suggests that using cannabis may be an effective way to induce natural melatonin production in the body, but it could also inhibit its production.2

In addition, there are also reports from smaller studies indicating that individuals who switched to cannabis were able to either reduce or stop their intake of prescription sleep medications, and 71% of patients reported subjective improvement in their sleep.3 Cannabis users also find that they have fewer side effects from using cannabis than they do sleep aids, as well as feeling more refreshed and focused upon waking. However, this self-report study also found that users reported feeling sleepier and more anxious following cannabis use for sleep compared to sleep aids.4

One interesting study found that while many cannabis users took the substance with the expectation of it helping them sleep, there was limited evidence to suggest that it provided the desired effect. In fact, it’s possible that cannabis use even leads to poor quality sleep in some users.5

If using cannabis instead of melatonin, then there are certain terpenes to look out for as well that may help enhance sleep outcomes. One example is α-pinene, a terpene found in an abundance of cultivars. Researchers have found that this specific type of pinene can regulate GABA, potentially improving sleep through interactions with the GABAA receptor.6 Other sedative-inducing terpenes include linalool and myrcene, two primary terpenes that are often seen along with pinene.7,8

It’s also important to know that melatonin has a low risk for addiction and withdrawal.9 This is potentially a reason why some would choose melatonin over cannabis, as it is possible to develop an addiction to the latter.

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Safety Tips for Combining Melatonin and Weed

If combining melatonin and weed, there are some safety aspects to be aware of.

If you need to drive or operate heavy machinery, then it’s best to leave this combination for another day and try to get some sleep naturally. The duration of effects can be unpredictable, so it’s better to err on the side of caution if using melatonin and cannabis.

When it comes to using this combination safely, it’s important to think about your overall health and wellness. Staying hydrated and eating healthy are good ways to reduce the possibility of unwanted effects. Focusing on your overall health is also a good way to promote sleep, so there are many different reasons to make this a priority.

If combining melatonin and THC, it’s strongly recommended not to add any other substances to the mix. Alcohol and other substances have the potential to increase unwanted effects. 

It’s recommended to start with 2.5-5 mg of cannabis if using an edible and wait up to 2 hours before taking more or taking one puff of flower every 15-30 minutes until you reach the desired effect. You can then increase that amount in the future if needed.10  Using too much cannabis in combination with melatonin may increase sedation.  If you’re worried about adverse effects from this combination, it’s important that you practice moderation and only use small amounts of both of these sleep-inducing options.

It’s always important to do independent research and also speak with a medical provider. They’ll be able to provide you with information that’s specific to your situation. Don’t hesitate to get the answers that you need to be confident about your health and wellness decisions, especially when it comes to cannabis topics.

References

  1. Edwards D, Filbey FM. Are Sweet Dreams Made of These? Understanding the Relationship Between Sleep and Cannabis Use. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021;6(6):462-473. doi:10.1089/can.2020.0174 ↩︎
  2. Lissoni P, Resentini M, Mauri R, et al. Effects of tetrahydrocannabinol on melatonin secretion in man. Horm Metab Res. 1986;18(1):77-78. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1012235 ↩︎
  3. Vaillancourt R, Gallagher S, Cameron JD, Dhalla R. Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review. Can Pharm J (Ott). 2022;155(3):175-180. Published 2022 Apr 15. doi:10.1177/17151635221089617 ↩︎
  4. Stueber A, Cuttler C. A large-scale survey of cannabis use for sleep: preferred products and perceived effects in comparison to over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids. Exploration of medicine. Published online October 25, 2023:709-719. doi:https://doi.org/10.37349/emed.2023.00171 ↩︎
  5. Winiger EA, Hitchcock LN, Bryan AD, Cinnamon Bidwell L. Cannabis use and sleep: Expectations, outcomes, and the role of age. Addict Behav. 2021;112:106642. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106642 ↩︎
  6. Weston-Green K, Clunas H, Jimenez Naranjo C. A Review of the Potential Use of Pinene and Linalool as Terpene-Based Medicines for Brain Health: Discovering Novel Therapeutics in the Flavours and Fragrances of Cannabis. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2021;12. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.583211 ↩︎
  7. Cui J, Li M, Wei Y, et al. Inhalation Aromatherapy via Brain-Targeted Nasal Delivery: Natural Volatiles or Essential Oils on Mood Disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2022;13. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.860043 ↩︎
  8. Surendran S, Qassadi F, Surendran G, Lilley D, Heinrich M. Myrcene—What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent? Frontiers in Nutrition. 2021;8. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.699666 ↩︎
  9. Tuft C, Matar E, Menczel Schrire Z, Grunstein RR, Yee BJ, Hoyos CM. Current Insights into the Risks of Using Melatonin as a Treatment for Sleep Disorders in Older Adults. Clin Interv Aging. 2023;18:49-59. Published 2023 Jan 12. doi:10.2147/CIA.S361519 ↩︎
  10. MacCallum CA, Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European Journal of Internal Medicine. 2018;49(49):12-19. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2018.01.004 ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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