Back in the dark days before legal weed, we were left scrambling for viable excuses to score our medical marijuana cards. People were claiming just about everything under the sun and ‘insomnia’ was the perfect vague excuse for many smokers. Ironically today, new research is making a case for marijuana-induced insomnia.

Although marijuana is often prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep related issues, there has actually been very little research on the subject until now. Oddly enough, some of the preliminary research illustrates fairly negative side effects of long-term marijuana use on basic sleep functions.

Dr. Nitun Verma, a specialist in sleep medicine and Chief Medical Officer of Peerwell, a company treating chronic disease, explains that marijuana, regardless of its prescribed purpose, actually disturbs REM sleep. Most scientist agree that the REM cycle of sleep is the stage in which you receive the majority of sleep’s restorative benefits.

A study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, showed marijuana/THC (either smoked or ingested orally) greatly reduced REM sleep, in general. As explained by Lifehacker: “marijuana can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, but if you don’t do ingest or smoke it consistently, you’ll take longer to fall asleep… However, as you continue to consume, your slow-wave sleep [restorative sleep] will get severely reduced, reducing the restfulness your sleep is supposed to provide.”

When you start treating your sleep issues with weed, it’s great at first. A few days of low or no REM sleep isn’t going to kill you. Flash forward a few days, and that’s when we start to experience the physical depletion of robbed REM. Before you know it, it’s three in the morning and you’re up watching late-night televangelist infomercials praying for sleep or the apocalypse (either/or). Once that phase hits, you just keep self-medicating with more and more weed, thinking that your body is developing a tolerance and, just like that: we’re physiologically addicted, hooked, helpless sleepless weed junkies.

As with everything else, for a better night’s sleep marijuana may be best used in moderation or at least spaced out long enough to help normalize and regulate our basic sleep patterns, or else our eyes will be bloodshot for a different reason.