Will Ketamine Help Sleep? We Explain Any Benefits

Will Ketamine Help Sleep? We Explain Any Benefits

If you’re thinking about trying ketamine therapy, you may be wondering, “will ketamine help sleep?” You may be asking yourself this if you are someone who struggles with sleep or you’re concerned that ketamine might negatively impact your sleep in some way.

The truth is that the relationship between ketamine and sleep is complex. Taking ketamine at a clinic is quite different from taking the substance recreationally, for example, and this can end up changing how ketamine affects your sleep.

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Ketamine Can Help Sleep By Improving Mental Disorders

Ketamine can help to improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. By alleviating these symptoms, ketamine can help you enjoy deep, uninterrupted, and rejuvenating sleep again.

For example, a 2013 study found that patients with depression experience an increase in total sleep and a decrease of waking during the first and second nights after a ketamine infusion. Studies have also shown that ketamine therapy can help PTSD patients sleep without needing to use sedatives, as well as stop their nightmares.

Alex Dimitriu, MD, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, underlines that ketamine “can lift mood, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. But it absolutely shouldn’t be seen as something you can use on your own as a way to self-medicate.” The caution against self-medicating is important, as this could end up being counterproductive to sleeping well. Let’s explore why.

RELATED: How Is Ketamine Made?

Ketamine Can Sometimes Negatively Impact Sleep

A study published in Scientific Reports discovered that current ketamine users (both those with and without ketamine use disorder) and abstinent ketamine users have poorer sleep quality than healthy controls. The abstinent participants had abstained from ketamine for more than three months, yet they still had issues with sleep. This illustrates that all kinds of recreational ketamine use can negatively impact sleep quality.

While self-medication is not strictly the same as recreational use, the former kind of use can still turn into drug abuse and addiction. This is because, when you self-medicate, you take the drug in an uncontrolled way and without medical supervision.

Those self-medicating psychedelics, or using them recreationally, can end up taking higher doses of the drug. This could lead to an increase in frequency of use as well. When this happens, ketamine can lead to poorer quality sleep. Indeed, research has demonstrated that the acute use of ketamine has a different effect on sleep than chronic use.

Looking for ketamine therapy? Click here to find top rated ketamine clinics near you

But Why Could Ketamine Adversely Affect Sleep?

There are several possible reasons why. The authors of the Scientific Reports study note that “poor sleep was positively associated with craving for ketamine, indicating a potential role of craving in mediating the relationship between sleep problems and ketamine use.” If you develop a psychological addiction to ketamine through self-medicating or recreational use, then your cravings for the drug can disrupt your sleep.

Also, while ketamine can have sedative effects, it can have stimulating effects as well. Many recreational users often take a dose to give them energy at a club, party, or festival. If taking ketamine this way, you may then use the drug late into the night and early morning. This will affect your sleep in two ways.

Firstly, you will be interrupting your natural sleep-wake cycle, by going to bed at an unusual time. Secondly, the stimulating effects of the ketamine will make it harder to fall asleep when you try to.

In contrast, at a ketamine clinic, you will undergo ketamine treatment during the day, not late at night. So by the time you’re ready for the bed, the effects of ketamine would be long gone. In this context, ketamine won’t disrupt your sleep.

Pay Attention To Sleep Hygiene After Ketamine Therapy

While there’s evidence that points to ketamine therapy’s ability to improve sleep, it doesn’t mean you should ignore sleep hygiene. After ketamine treatment, it’s important to ensure that you take steps that ensure good quality sleep, including the below.

  • Sticking to a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Go to bed at the same time every night, regardless of feeling tired
  • Avoid light sources prior to bed and in bed (especially blue light)
  • reserve the bed for sleep and sex only
  • Regularly exercising
  • Reducing stress
  • Not sleeping too late
  • Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours)

By neglecting sleep hygiene, there’s a higher risk of worsening your mental health. This, as we have seen, can then exacerbate poor sleep. Ketamine can help you to sleep soundly again, but it is no substitute for good sleep hygiene.

Finally, combining therapy with a ketamine infusion (ketamine-assisted psychotherapy) may help with sleep more than just the ketamine infusion alone. This involves talking about your ketamine experience with a trained therapist so that you can better make sense of it and apply it meaningfully to your life. This can help to enhance and maintain improvements in mental health — which, of course, will be better for your sleep.

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

Dr. Ben Medrano

This post was medically approved by Dr. Ben Medrano

Dr. Ben Medrano is a board certified psychiatrist specializing in Integrative Psychiatry, Ketamine Assisted Therapy and Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration. He received his MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine with additional training in the Urban Underserved Track (CU-UNITE). Dr. Medrano is most known for his work with ketamine assisted therapy and is the former Senior Vice President and US Medical Director of Field Trip Health - the largest in-office ketamine assisted therapy practice to date. He continues to sponsor Field Trip clinics as a local medical director at multiple sites on the East Coast allowing him to further the field of psychedelic assisted therapy and research.

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