Taking small amounts of the psychedelic LSD led people to sleep longer than taking a placebo, but why this benefit only occurred the night after microdosing is unclear.
Microdosing involves taking small doses of psychedelics to reap their purported benefits without experiencing hallucinations.
According to the largest study of its kind, LSD microdosing can increase sleep duration the following night. The unexpected finding may help explain why psychedelics are often associated with improved mental health. “We became interested in LSDmicrodosing because many people are doing it and claiming mental health benefits,” said Suresh Muthukumaraswamy of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who researches treatments for depression.
As a preliminary study, Muthukumaraswamy and colleagues asked 80 men aged 25 to 56 to take a microdose (10 micrograms) of LSD or a placebo every third morning for six weeks. The LSD group reported feeling happier, more connected, and more creative on the days they microdosed, consistent with previous surveys of people in the community who microdose regularly.
Yet there was also a more curious finding. The microdosing group went to bed earlier and slept 24 minutes more the following night than the placebo group, although physical activity during the day was the same between the groups. However, the group seemed oblivious to the fact that they were sleeping longer. One explanation could be that the psychoactive effects of LSD stimulate extra processing in the brain, increasing the need for sleep the next day. This is an assumption.
Interventions that boost sleep by more than 20 minutes are generally considered clinically relevant, meaning they could be beneficial for sleep-deprived people, says Sean Drummond of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. “I don't understand why the extra sleep only occurs the night after. Everything we do during the day affects the synaptic connections in our brain and our sleep.” More precise monitoring of LSD microdosers' sleep using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures the brain's electrical activity, could help unravel the mechanisms, says Drummond.
Depression and sleeping problems
Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, who studies treatments for depression at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, believes the extra sleep provided by LSD microdosing could explain why people with depression have reported feeling better after LSD treatment combined with therapy. Depression is often closely linked to sleep problems.
Later this month, his team will start a placebo-controlled clinical trial of LSD microdosing in 110 people with depression to see if they also experience improvements in mood and sleep, and if so, if the two are related. Many existing antidepressants, including SSRIs, cause sleep disturbances in some people. Therefore, there is a need for alternative treatments that improve sleep.
Source: newsscientist.com (EN)