Do Psilocybin Mushrooms Affect Your Sleep?

Ioana Cozma
Dr. Kimberly Langdon
Written by Ioana Cozma on 05 September 2023
Medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon on 06 September 2023

Psilocybin mushrooms’ effects on sleep are not fully understood, though there is an evident interaction. This article explores how psilocybin may both improve and decrease sleep quality and quantity, answering the question, “Can you sleep on shrooms”?

Do Psilocybin Mushrooms Affect Your Sleep?

Psychedelics and sleep

The relationship between psychedelics and sleep is not straightforward. Psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD may refine sleep quality by enhancing deep sleep duration, decreasing insomnia episodes, and promoting faster sleep onset.

However, psychedelics and hallucinogens are also linked to decreased sleep quality, creating sleep disturbances and vivid dreams.

These contradictory effects result from psychedelics’ unpredictable nature and interactions within the central nervous system. While some individuals experience calmness, increased relaxation, and lucidity, others may experience anxiety, paranoia, and manic or depressive episodes.

Preexisting mental health conditions, the dosage, previous drug experience, and taking psychedelics with other drugs influence how these substances affect the brain and, consequently, sleep.

Can psilocybin improve my sleep?

This question does not have a clear answer because the scientific community does not understand yet why some individuals may experience improved sleep on psilocybin while others may not.

Another common question among people experiencing sleep disturbances is, “can you sleep on shrooms.” However, psilocybin is the naturally occurring psychedelic substance in certain mushrooms, so this question has a similar answer.

The theories on why psilocybin, and consequently, mushrooms, may improve sleep quality relate to this substance’s effects on the brain.

Firstly, psilocybin interacts with neural serotonin receptors, the most prominent of which is the 5-HT2A receptor. These receptors regulate mood and sleep, and binding to them allows psilocybin to induce a state of calmness, which improves sleep.

Clinical trials suggest that psilocybin therapy may alleviate headaches, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other substance abuse, all of which diminish sleep quality and quantity. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence regarding a sharpened state of mindfulness and awareness after taking psychedelics such as shrooms. This state promotes relaxation and mental clarity, thus allowing faster sleep initiation, longer sleep duration, and more deep sleep.

Can psilocybin make my sleep worse?

Yes, psilocybin may also impair sleep quality and quantity, delaying sleep onset, increasing sleep restlessness, reducing sleep duration, and causing episodes of wakefulness.

One reason is that certain individuals may experience anxiety and hyperactivity after taking psilocybin. This substance may also affect heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, causing sleep discomfort or agitation. These combined mental and physical manifestations delay sleep onset and disrupt sleep continuity.

Additionally, psilocybin may cause vivid and disturbing dreams that lead to sleep fragmentation and, consequently, lower sleep quality. The mechanism for this interaction is similar to that of psilocybin causing ego dissolution, also known as ego death.

Lastly, psilocybin may suppress rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and prolong REM latency. Because REM is an essential sleep phase for cognitive restoration, decreasing its duration and postponing its onset could negatively affect memory consolidation and cognitive function.

Long-term effects of psilocybin on sleep

One way psilocybin might produce long-term effects on sleep is by disrupting normal sleep-wake patterns, causing difficulties in sleep timing. Individuals might experience difficulty falling asleep at their standard bedtime or experience day drowsiness. These disruptions in circadian rhythms entail a reduction in sleep quality and quantity.

If psilocybin is used frequently or in high doses to induce sleep, individuals might develop a dependence on the substance for sleep initiation. This addiction is likely to disrupt natural sleep processes and plummet sleep quality.

Understanding the impact of psilocybin mushrooms on sleep

To understand the effects of psilocybin mushrooms on sleep, we must analyze how this substance acts inside the brain.

Firstly, psilocybin and other psychedelics, like most drugs, act on receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating appetite, mood, and sleep. In some cases, increasing neural serotonin levels may lead to increased calmness, which is connected to better sleep quality and faster sleep onset, with fewer insomnia episodes.

However, there are no guarantees as to the effects resulting from the interaction of psilocybin with serotonin. Although the mechanism is the same, individuals may experience contradictory results, leading to anxiety and mania.

Secondly, psychedelics like psilocybin interact with the brain’s default mode network (DMN), which becomes active when individuals do not focus on particular tasks. DMN may be involved in thought and emotion regulation, with recent research tying it to feelings of ego dissolution.

In this altered state of consciousness, individuals perceive their sense of self as altered or dissolved. This meditative state is connected to fewer periods of shallow, restless sleep.

Conversely, the fact that psilocybin determines altered states of consciousness does not guarantee a tranquil experience. The substance might also lead to heightened emotions in the range of anxiety, mania, and restlessness, affecting sleep onset, quality, and duration.

Resources:

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  2. COMPASS Pathways. (2018). The Safety and Efficacy of Psilocybin in Participants With Treatment Resistant Depression (P-TRD). ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03775200. Retrieved from
  3. Payne, J. E., Chambers, R., & Liknaitzky, P. (2021). Combining Psychedelic and Mindfulness Interventions: Synergies to Inform Clinical Practice. ACS pharmacology & translational science, 4(2), 416–423.
  4. Thomas, C. W., Blanco-Duque, C., Bréant, B. J., Goodwin, G. M., Sharp, T., Bannerman, D. M., & Vyazovskiy, V. V. (2022). Psilocin acutely alters sleep-wake architecture and cortical brain activity in laboratory mice. Translational psychiatry, 12(1), 77.
  5. Morton, E., Sakai, K., Ashtari, A., Pleet, M., Michalak, E. E., & Woolley, J. (2023). Risks and benefits of psilocybin use in people with bipolar disorder: An international web-based survey on experiences of 'magic mushroom' consumption. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 37(1), 49–60.
  6. Bae, S., Vaysblat, M., Bae, E., Dejanovic, I., & Pierce, M. (2023). Cardiac Arrest Associated With Psilocybin Use and Hereditary Hemochromatosis. Cureus, 15(5), e38669.
  7. Kraehenmann R. (2017). Dreams and Psychedelics: Neurophenomenological Comparison and Therapeutic Implications. Current neuropharmacology, 15(7), 1032–1042.
  8. Gattuso, J. J., Perkins, D., Ruffell, S., Lawrence, A. J., Hoyer, D., Jacobson, L. H., Timmermann, C., Castle, D., Rossell, S. L., Downey, L. A., Pagni, B. A., Galvão-Coelho, N. L., Nutt, D., & Sarris, J. (2023). Default Mode Network Modulation by Psychedelics: A Systematic Review. The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology, 26(3), 155–188. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijnp/pyac074

Activity History - Last updated: 06 September 2023, Published date:


Reviewer

Kimberly Langdon M.D. has been contributing to medical fields including mental health and addiction since she retired from medicine; with over 19 years of practicing clinical experience.

Activity History - Medically Reviewed on 04 September 2023 and last checked on 06 September 2023

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kimberly Langdon

M.D.

Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Reviewer

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