Cannabis and alcohol use for sleep aid: A daily diary investigation

Health Psychol. 2019 Nov;38(11):1036-1047. doi: 10.1037/hea0000765. Epub 2019 Jun 6.


Objective: One in 5 college students use substances such as cannabis and/or alcohol to help sleep. Despite this high prevalence of sleep aid use, there remains a lack of research on the potential day-to-day sleep- and substance-related consequences. The current study examined associations of cannabis and alcohol sleep aid use with subsequent sleep and substance use consequences among college students.

Method: Of a baseline sample of 217 college students endorsing past-month cannabis and/or alcohol use (1% cannabis only, 42% alcohol only, 58% both), 83 students endorsing past-month cannabis and/or alcohol use for sleep aid (Mage = 19.33 [SD = 1.11], 30% male, 72% White) completed online questionnaires for 14 consecutive days to report daily sleep, substance use, and negative substance consequences.

Results: Multilevel models demonstrated that nights of cannabis sleep aid use predicted longer same-night sleep duration, shorter same-night wake time after sleep onset, and greater next-day daytime fatigue within person, after controlling for daily cannabis frequency. Alcohol sleep aid use was not associated with sleep-related outcomes or negative drinking consequences after controlling for daily alcohol quantity; these null results may be due to a low frequency of alcohol sleep aid use (1% of observations) over 14 days of assessment.

Conclusions: Results highlight daytime fatigue as a potential adverse short-term outcome of cannabis sleep aid use, despite its proximal sleep-related benefits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Ethanol / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol