Of all the stereotypes associated with cannabis, two of the most enduring tropes are the ideas that weed makes you lazy and tired. It’s little wonder: Pop culture is littered with references to couch-potato stoners, or happy-go-lucky potheads who fall asleep with a joint in hand.
However, we now have abundant evidence that the truth is much more nuanced. Sure, weed can help you feel relaxed but this doesn’t mean it makes you lazy or unmotivated. Recent surveys actually tell us that cannabis users are no less likely to be motivated than non-users.
Similarly, cannabis can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, but cannabis can also uplift and energize you too. It all depends on dose and the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes you’re consuming.
Here’s our take on some common (mis)conceptions about weed, laziness, and tiredness.
Debunking the Lazy Stoner Stereotype
Anyone who indulged in Season Four of Stranger Things likely instantly warmed to the character of Argyle. Super laid back with a joint ever-present in his fluoro shirt pocket, Argyle embodied the quintessential stoner. Nothing fazed him, and he seemed perpetually chill no matter what interdimensional crisis was taking place. However, depictions of stoners like Argyle have really contributed to the belief that regular cannabis users are apathetic and lack motivation–but we now have proof that’s not the case.
Researchers from the UK released findings in August 2022 that show the lazy stoner stereotype has no basis. The researchers set out to find out whether regular cannabis users (people who had used weed at least once a week for three months) were more likely to feel apathy, a loss of interest in or pleasure from rewards, or whether they were lazier to achieve a reward.
274 cannabis users were compared to non-users of the same age and gender. The study found there was no difference between both groups’ levels of apathy. Fascinatingly, cannabis users appeared to be able to enjoy themselves more than non-users. The researchers also investigated the plant’s potential impact on the level of physical effort needed to complete a task. But again, it was found that both users and non-users exerted the same level of effort to achieve a reward.
“We were surprised to see that there was really very little difference between cannabis users and non-users when it came to lack of motivation or lack of enjoyment, even among those who used cannabis every day,” said Martine Skumlien, one of the study’s co-authors in a press release. “We’re so used to seeing ‘lazy stoners’ on our screens that we don’t stop to ask whether they’re an accurate representation of cannabis users,” she added.
These findings have been echoed in other studies too. In another survey of more than 5,000 cannabis users, the results revealed that the modern cannabis user was successful, motivated, highly educated and health conscious. In fact, cannabis users in the US are more likely to have a college degree and participate in the workforce than nonusers.
When you think about it, it makes total sense. Today’s cannabis users represent a diversity of people, including highly motivated athletes who use CBD to promote recovery and enhance performance, or Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who microdose weed to spark creativity and ingenuity.
Why Is Weed Associated with Laziness?
Weed has been utilized for millennia for its ability to promote feelings of deep relaxation and by ancient civilizations across the globe. Cannabis can bring about profound feelings of relief in the mind and body, helping to alleviate anxiety, stress, and pain–and it can also promote sleep. Weed delivers these effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (the ECS). The ECS is a system that plays a major role in maintaining balance and equilibrium in the body.
Nowadays, people still turn to weed for the same reasons. In our fast-paced world that’s often associated with deadlines and demands, people include cannabis as part of their health and wellness regime to relax and shift out of a tense, hypervigilant mindset into one that feels slower and more grounded. While some might call voluntarily entering into such a state laziness, others would call it consciously unwinding or chilling.
To better understand why weed has long been associated with laziness, some researchers carried out two studies to find out whether the plant reduces motivation. The first study looked at the short-term effects of weed, and the second study looked at longer-term effects of weed.
In the first study, 17 participants inhaled cannabis vapor on one occasion, and a placebo (fake) cannabis vapor on another occasion. Straight after inhaling, they completed a task designed to measure their motivation for earning money. The task was a real-life task as they were allowed to keep the money they had earned at the end of the experiment.
In the task, the participants could decide whether to complete low or high-effort options to win varying sums of money. The low-effort option involved pressing a spacebar key on a computer 30 times in seven seconds to win 50 cents. The high-effort option involved 100 spacebar presses in 21 seconds for rewards varying from 80 cents to $2.
The researchers found that people who were high were less likely to choose the high-effort option. Volunteers on placebo chose the high-effort option 50% of the time for a $2 reward compared to those on cannabis who only chose the high-effort option 42% of the time. In other words, cannabis users were less motivated to get the money when they were stoned.
However, the researchers also found that when the cannabis users were sober for at least 12 hours, they did not differ from non-users in their motivation for money. Basically, the results of these studies tell us that smoking cannabis can lower short-term motivation. But on the other hand, long-term cannabis use doesn’t seem to impair motivation.
It’s super helpful to put these results in context. For the majority of users, cannabis represents a tool that we turn to after work or during social occasions to wind down and relax. In fact, approximately 72% of daily cannabis users smoke weed to relax or relieve tension. Generally, we aren’t lighting up a joint or popping gummies while we’re crunching numbers at our work desks. We’re enjoying the plant consciously as a tool to calm down, so we don’t need to be motivated in these instances–or more accurately, we don’t want to be motivated!
Many of us spend most of our lives in a state of constant go-go-go, and weed is something we turn to when we want to slow down. Weed helps temporarily shift us out of a productive, goal-oriented mindset into one that’s more focused on just being. But the good news is, when the effects wear off, we’re still just as motivated as we ever were.
Ways to Avoid Getting Tired After Smoking Weed
As we’ve been exploring above, many of us actually turn to weed because we want to relax , calm down or even sleep. However, if you’re using weed and you want to avoid feeling sleepy, there are a bunch of reliable ways to do that too.For starters, take a look at our tips on how to avoid couch lock.
Here are some of the tried and tested ways to stay alert after smoking weed:
● Opt for stimulating, rather than calming, strains
If you’re using your DynaVap vaporizer to vape dry herb, select strains that are lower in THC and higher in CBD. Ideally, opt for a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, or something that’s even more weighted in favor of CBD. CBD can help to balance out the effects of THC and can promote alertness. Blue Dream, Northern Lights, Sour Tsunami, Blueberry and Harlequin all represent low-THC strains for those looking to stay awake after they light (or power) up.
● Monitor your dose
One of the most famous adages associated with cannabis is to “start low and go slow”. By starting out with lower doses and gradually increasing dosage, you can monitor how weed affects you and subsequently find your sweet spot.
On days where you’re looking for some deep rest, a higher dose of a THC-rich strain may be ideal. On the other hand, when you’re looking for a more stimulating high, a lower dose might be a better idea.
● Drink lots of water
Staying hydrated will help keep you alert and aware. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish, tired, and unmotivated, so drinking lots of water when you are using weed is a helpful hack to keep you focused. As an added bonus, water can help fight off signs of cannabis cotton-mouth (when weed dries your mouth out).
● Take a shower
If you’ve just had a session and you’re feeling waves of tiredness setting in, jump in the shower. The sensation of hot water can help you feel refreshed. If you’re really brave though, have a cold shower. According to cold water master Wim Hof, cold water is uplifting as it stimulates you to take deeper breaths. Deeper breaths decrease levels of CO2 in the body, helping you concentrate.