Taking small doses of LSD was associated with longer sleep duration the following night in a small non-peer-reviewed study.
Microdosing refers to repeated self-administration of psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), in low doses that do not cause hallucinations and impair a person’s “normal functioning.” It is becoming increasingly popular for boosting productivity and creativity, although evidence of microdosing effectiveness is scarce.
A study from Australian researchers that has not been peer-reviewed yet and published in the preprint server medRxiv suggests that microdosing LSD, a synthetic psychedelic drug, may increase sleep duration.
In a Phase 1 randomized controlled trial, 80 healthy male participants received either LSD (10 µg) or a placebo with doses self-administered every third day for six weeks. The participants tracked their sleep duration using commercially available watches. On dosing days, the participants were asked to take LSD before 11 am to avoid any potential disruption to their sleep.
After analyzing data from 3,231 nights of sleep, the researchers found that on the night after microdosing, the participants in the LSD group slept 24.3 minutes longer. No differences in sleep duration were found the night of the microdosing.
“The clear, clinically significant, changes in objective measurements of sleep observed are difficult to explain as a placebo effect,” the study says.
Of five participants who discontinued the trial, four did so due to mild anxiety as a side effect of microdosing LSD.
Although the study did not include subjective measurements of sleep quality, some participants reported being more tired on a day after microdosing and experiencing sleep disturbances as an adverse event. However, difficulty sleeping was not reported at significantly higher rates than in the placebo group.
In an interview at the end of the trial, some participants in the LSD group said that microdosing could both increase and decrease their energy levels.
The researchers note that wearable devices used in the study are limited because they do not provide reliable access to the important clinical metrics of sleep/REM onset latency. Additionally, because the study included only healthy male participants, the findings may not apply to the general population.
In previous studies, participants who microdose reported improved mood and well-being, with some even reducing or stopping their medications for mental health disorders. However, research suggests that a placebo effect may explain this.
The study authors say their findings may have implications for the proposed therapeutic effects of microdosing LSD in mood disorders such as major depressive disorder, where sleep is frequently disturbed.