Effects of high dosage delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on sleep patterns in man

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1975 Apr;17(4):458-66. doi: 10.1002/cpt1975174458.


Electroencephalographic readings and eye movement were recorded in experienced marijuana users under placebo and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Four subjects were studied for 3 baseline nights, 3 nights under initial dosage of 70 mg/day, the last 3 nights of a 2-wk period of 210 mg/day, and the first 3 nights of withdrawal. Three other subjects were studied only during the latter 2 conditions. Administration of THC significantly reduced eye movement activity during sleep with rapid eye movements (REM) and, to a lesser extent, the duration of REM itself. Withdrawal led to increases above baseline in both measures but the "rebound" effect was greater for eye movement. Stage 4 sleep tended to increase on drug, but this effect was not statistically significant. On withdrawal, stage 4 sleep decreased significantly; this change was marked only on the first withdrawal night. The functional or biological significance of these changes is unclear. Nevertheless, these are the most marked effects of THC on brain electrical activity demonstrated thus far. Since its pattern of effects on sleep appears unique to THC, this drug may prove to be a valuable tool in the elucidation of the pharmacology of sleep. Possible relations between effects on sleep pattern and on behavior are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior / drug effects
  • Cannabis / pharmacology*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects
  • Sleep, REM / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Dronabinol