Marijuana Linked to Narcolepsy


A new study found that adolescents who smoke marijuana fall asleep during class. The study said one in ten teens tested positive for marijuana are said to have narcoleptic symptoms. Participation in the usage of Marijuana has similar symptoms and is linked to narcolepsy.

An multiple sleep latency test or MSLT is used to diagnose narcolepsy. MSLT tests and drug tests are being paired to show that people who have narcolepsy may be narcoleptic or narcoleptic-like not just because they have narcolepsy, but also because they may be using marijuana.

A study with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital found 10 percent of young adults tested positive for marijuana. The ten year study showed that 43 percent (of the 10 percent) of young adults were positive with marijuana had results consistent with that of narcolepsy. The study said that males were more likely to have marijuana linked with narcolepsy or abnormal REM patterns of sleep.

The study consisted of 383 children shows the importance of pairing drug screens with MSLT tests. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that adolescents over the age of 13 should go through a drug screening while interpreting MSLT findings and this contributes to the narcolepsy symptoms onset by marijuana.

Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that involves little control of sleep to wake cycles. This is where people can fall into REM sleep very quickly, and involuntarily, often this REM sleep is during the day. Narcolepsy is where people or animals can fall asleep very fast into REM if they are too excited or it just happens.

Another symptom is called excessive daytime sleepiness, or EDS. Contrary to popular belief narcoleptic people do not spend  large portion of the 24 hours sleeping, they just sleep more spread out, involuntarily.

The similarities between people who have narcolepsy and drug induced narcoleptic-like symptoms are that they both sleep four to five times a day. Dr. Splaingard, a faculty member at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, added that a negative drug test is an important part in of the clinical evaluation prior to allowing a teenagers to start treatment for the diagnosis of narcolepsy.

The study consisted of 383 children and young adults, everyone was under the age of 21 and everyone and no one under the age of 13 tested positive for THC or Tetrahydrocannibinol, the chemical present in pot.

71 percent of young adults whom tested positive for THC had several SOREMS or sleep onset rapid eye movement. Dr. Splaingard said that improvement was found in the excessive daytime sleepiness symptom after a community drug program. An important find in the study is that marijuana use is associated with daytime sleepiness in some teenagers.

After the community drug program, the participants were drug-free but did not come back for a second sleep study to re-establish findings. However, the young adults who tested negative for drugs only had 17 percent of them had narcolepsy or met the criteria for MSLT, this is versus the 43 percent whom tested positive for marijuana.

The statistics are significant because 43 percent of young adults whom tested positive for drugs have narcoleptic-like symptoms versus 17 percent of young adults whom tested negative for drugs. Marijuana is linked to narcolepsy and narcolepsy-like symptoms.

By Jacob Dowd



Sleep Review

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

Science 2.0

Science Daily

Photo by Guilhem Vellut – License

2 Responses to "Marijuana Linked to Narcolepsy"

  1. Tam Kozman   February 15, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Contrary to what might be implied by the title of this article, it is important to note that marijuana is not ‘linked’ to narcolepsy in any cause/effect way; this rare neurological disorder is thought to be caused by exposure to environmental factors like viral or bacterial infections in genetically predisposed individuals.

  2. stel1776   February 15, 2015 at 6:35 am

    According to the study the prevalence of cannabis use in teens with narcolepsy is 10%. This is less than that of the general teen population, which is about 20%. This would indicate a protective effect if anything.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login