Smoked marijuana attenuates performance and mood disruptions during simulated night shift work

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Sep 1:178:534-543. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.04.036. Epub 2017 Jun 28.


Individuals who work nonstandard schedules, such as rotating or night shifts, are more susceptible to workplace injuries, performance decrements, and reduced productivity. This population is also almost twice as likely to use illicit drugs as individuals working a standard day shift. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of smoked marijuana on performance, mood, and sleep during simulated shift work. Ten experienced marijuana smokers completed this 23-day, within-participant residential study. They smoked a single marijuana cigarette (0, 1.9, 3.56% Δ9-THC) one hour after waking for three consecutive days under two shift conditions: day shift and night shift. Shifts alternated three times during the study, and shift conditions were separated by an 'off' day. When participants smoked placebo cigarettes, psychomotor performance and subjective-effect ratings were altered during the night shift compared to the day shift: performance (e.g., vigilance) and a few subjective ratings were decreased (e.g., "Self-Confident"), whereas other ratings were increased (e.g., "Tired"). Objective and subjective measures of sleep were also disrupted, but to a lesser extent. Marijuana attenuated some performance, mood, and sleep disruptions: participants performed better on vigilance tasks, reported being less miserable and tired and sleep a greater number of minutes. Limited negative effects of marijuana were noted. These data demonstrate that abrupt shift changes produce performance, mood, and sleep decrements during night shift work and that smoked marijuana containing low to moderate Δ9-THC concentrations can offset some of these effects in frequent marijuana smokers.

Keywords: Cannabis; Marijuana; Mood; Performance; Shift work; Sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Cannabis / drug effects*
  • Cannabis / metabolism
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Fatigue
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Smoking
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Shift Work Schedule
  • Sleep / drug effects*


  • Dronabinol