For most of us, a daily medicinal nightcap allows it far simpler to fall into sleep, and decades of historical data support the utility of cannabis as a sleep aid. Ancient Chinese pharmacology mixed cannabis flower with datura to produce an elegantly called “sagacious sleep powder” or shui sheng san. Western medicine is now catching up, with cannabis science and sleep on the rise.
But what is the impact of weed on dreams? If you’re already acquainted with plants, you’re presumably conscious that times of excessive ingestion can see your nocturnal imaginations decrease, if not disappear entirely. On the other side, brief intervals of abstinence bring an explosion of surreal dreamscapes.
What’s the matter, then? Why will cannabis affect the sleeping dream process, and should you be worried about it?
How dreaming happens
The sleep-wake process consists of four phases, which are replicated many times throughout a typical night. Step 1 is the lightest and shortest sleep period, remaining just 5% of the overall sleep cycle. Step 2 indicates a change in phase to deeper sleep, with heart rate and temperature decreasing. About 50% of sleep is achieved in stage 2.
Phase 3 is the deepest level of the night. If you’re woken up during this process, you’re going to feel tired and cognitively disabled for up to an hour. The reconstruction and regeneration of tissue happen in stage 3, along with the activation of the immune system.
The fourth stage is the REM cycle or cycle of a dream. REM applies to the fast turning of the hand, which happens when you dream. Up to two hours of the night is spent dreaming.
Dreaming: Why it’s so critical.
Scientists and sleep specialists have been debating the function of dreaming for decades. Until recently, the usage of the REM process has been entirely overlooked. Modern sleep guru, Dr. Matther Walker in recent years, along with other scholars, has stressed the value of REM sleep, affirming that dream sleep has roles that are central to well-being and success.
According to Walker, REM sleep prevents the debilitating discomfort of stressful or upsetting events encountered throughout the day. In addition to offering relational closure, dreaming stimulates the imaginative cycle and problem-solving capabilities by fusing human experiences in complex and innovative ways.
Dreaming also plays a part in formulating the fundamental laws of brain information learned during the day. Noradrenaline, an anxiety-causing agent, is decreased in the brain only when in REM sleep.
Studies performed in 2016 on mice also reveals that chronic REM sleep loss over 72 hours impairs spatial memory. And you can find yourself having more trouble locating items, or becoming more likely to bump into things. The research stated that this disturbing disorder existed for at least 21 days after REM sleep had recovered.
“Dreaming is not only a strange phenomenon that occurs when we sleep, but it is also a critical aspect of the healing cycle and the brain and thinking system,” said Dr. Jordan Tishler. Dr. Jordan Tisher is the President and CEO of the Association of Cannabis Professionals and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “The lack of REM, in particular, may contribute to cognitive impairment and changes in mood.” Bottom of Form
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Enter cannabis: How does it affect dreaming?
When it comes to assessing the impact of cannabis on dreams, the solution is not apparent. “There are several sleep studies that show that cannabis can reduce or suppress the REM sleep,” said Dr. Tishler. “The main problem is whether that is positive or evil. The conclusion is, as expected, ‘it depends.'”
Researchers are beginning to gauge the impact of different cannabinoids on dreaming.
THC, one of the main psychoactive components of cannabis, has been shown to suppress the REM sleep, although it is essential to note that these findings have not been consistently replicated.
“Cannabis use, and especially THC use, decreases REM sleep, reducing the opportunity of most people to dream because of a lack of time at this point,” said Kebra Smith-Bolden, a registered nurse and CannaHealth CEO.
A study done in 2019 showed that non-consumers showed more overall REM sleep then cannabis users, and more bizarreness when recalling dreams as often as non-cannabis users.
Does CBD affect dreaming?
CBD’s meteoric rise as a sleep aid may have you asking what impact it has on dreaming. Although such results are still not fully known, the 2017 study of sleep, cannabis, and cannabinoids show that medication tends to influence dreaming.
The study found that a large dose of CBD enhanced the onset of REM sleep on the day of implementation, whereas a mid-range dose of CBD reduced the onset of REM sleep on the day following implementation.
Anecdotal, CBD users have claimed that cannabinoids have a significant effect on their dreams, with some having more realistic and coherent dreams, more optimistic dreams (including love dreams) and a super-enhanced memory of their nocturnal adventures.
Also, there is proof that CBD may be an effective cure for REM sleep activity disorder, which leads those afflicted to carry out (often frightening) dreams aggressively or vocally.
People with PTSD most generally encounter these visual hallucinations. “Some amount of REM suppression can be appropriate for patients who have hallucinations, such as those with PTSD,” Tishler clarified.
What’s REM rebound?
Regular drug patients would be associated with wild hallucinations, whether they take a break or if they quit consuming marijuana for a moment. “The restoration marks rebound to vibrant and odd visions as the subconscious rediscovers the REM period to dreaming,” Smith-Bolden said.
Although REM rebound provides the mind with a way of recalling missing dream-sleep, according to Tishler, it can be unsettling. People experiencing REM recovery also encounter more hallucinations, denser REM sleep, quicker REM sleep initiation, and elongated REM sleep periods to pay off their debt. “For this and several other purposes, intensive cannabis use is not advised,” Tishler said.
I consume cannabis – how do I protect the REM phase?
If cannabis is your sleeping help, it is vital to prevent alternating between unnecessary REM sleep suppression and REM rebounding.
“Rem repression is not ideal for certain people,” Tishler said. “Nevertheless, there is insomnia,” Tishler recommends finding a compromise between overall sleep and REM sleep in particular.
“It turns out this partnership is rather dose-dependent. High levels of cannabis contribute to better sleep with minimal to no signs of REM inhibition, although larger doses are more obviously harmful, “stated Tishler.
For anyone who has chronic insomnia or more than three bad nights of sleep a week, he advises speaking with a psychiatrist and then finding advice from a cannabis expert with their support.
“The therapeutic method can differ with the sort of insomnia you’re having,” Tishler said. “Don’t depend on the guidance of your acquaintance or pharmacy. They can recommend significantly unrealistic solutions that may backfire. Small doses are more successful. “Likewise, Bolden-Smith emphasizes that newbies that use cannabis as a sleeping aid will continue with microdosing. “Increase incrementally before the sleep targets are fulfilled,” she added. This way, you will take advantage of the sleepy properties of the flower while maintaining your REM sleep.
Sweet dreams, guy!