Cannabis and alcohol use and their associations with sleep: A daily diary investigation of single-use and co-use in college students
Background: Sleep continuity problems are widespread among college students and may be influenced by single use and co-use of alcohol and cannabis.
Aims: We examined the within-person associations of alcohol and cannabis use with subsequent sleep experiences in the everyday life of college students.
Method: A sample of 80 college students reported prior-night alcohol and cannabis use and sleep experiences for 14 consecutive days. Mixed-effects models examined the within-person relations between alcohol and cannabis use (single and co-use) and subsequent (1) sleep-onset latency, (2) total sleep time, (3) number of awakenings and (4) early awakenings that night.
Results: Compared to no-use evenings, alcohol and cannabis, used separately or together (co-use), were associated with shorter sleep-onset latency and longer total sleep time. Students reported more nightly awakenings after alcohol-only use compared to no-use and after co-use, and they reported fewer early awakenings after no-use and co-use.
Discussion: In line with previous experimental findings, we found that alcohol and cannabis use in the everyday life of college students were associated with sleep-inducing effects, and that alcohol use was associated with disturbed sleep continuity. The results suggest that cannabis may curb alcohol’s detrimental effect on the number of awakenings and may reduce the incidence of early awakenings. Yet, due to lack of control for potentially important confounders (e.g. quantity of cannabis/alcohol consumed, withdrawal) the current results may be best seen as preliminary and further research is needed before causal inferences can be reached.