Do you remember your dreams after cannabis use?
For many cannabis users, rolling a joint is a regular part of a nightly routine. Smoking cannabis is known to help with easing anxiety, symptoms of depression, PTSD, insomnia, and other things that keep us up at night.
However, are those nightly tokes having an unwanted effect on your REM cycle? Heavy cannabis users probably notice that their nocturnal visions are pretty much non-existent when smoking. Does consuming cannabis products really affect your ability to have vivid dreams? Does it matter?
Let’s talk about cannabis and dreams.
What Are Dreams?
Before we can understand how cannabis consumption affects dreaming, we have to talk about what dreams are and how they happen.
While asleep, our brains and bodies go through four main cycles that affect dreaming:
- NREM Stage 1 – Transition between awake and asleep
- NREM Stage 2 – Light sleep
- NREM Stage 3 – Deep sleep
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep
Our bodies cycle through these stages a number of times during nightly slumber. Dreaming occurs during the fourth part of the cycle – the REM phase – when the brain is more active, and the body is completely relaxed.
Why Dreaming Matters
The REM stage of sleep is helpful for health and wellness. While in REM, our minds can more effectively process the day’s happenings and emotions through visual recaps, AKA dreams.
We need to dream!
Dreams aren’t just random scenarios strung together by our unconscious – they’re a natural, therapeutic method for memory, learning, and processing emotions. This restoration of the mind’s intake can even help us deal with traumas and find an emotional resolution.
Without the REM process during sleep, our bodies don’t get that necessary restorative process and can result in mood swings and cognitive dysfunction. A lack of restful sleep can also lead to issues like depression, weight gain, and problems concentrating.
How does Cannabis Affect Dreaming?
Regular cannabis users may notice that they dream less vividly after smoking. At the same time, refraining from cannabis after everyday use can cause deeper, more intense dreaming.
Do you ever wonder if cannabis blocks dreams?
Regular consumption can either decrease or completely block vivid dreams. While not scientifically proven, studies show that THC consumption often blocks us from cycling through the REM phase of sleep for a significant period of time – suppressing our ability to dream.
The Effects of CBD on Dreams
With THC being the main dream-blocking component of cannabis products, what does that mean for CBD and dreaming?
Studies on the effects of CBD on dreaming are still in the works. The cannabinoid can both increase or decrease the REM phase of sleep, depending on factors such as consumption volume, strain, and the user’s individual sleep personality.
The effects of CBD on dreaming are based on a combination of factors.
When used as a sleep aid, some find that CBD increases the vividity of their dreams, sometimes even resulting in more positive nightly imaginings. Others say that CBD increases their dream recall – meaning they remember more of their unconscious adventures than without a nighttime treat.
Does Cannabis Cause Nightmares?
With cannabis, bad dreams can also occur, depending on your unique body and brain functions. Suddenly stopping cannabis consumption after heavy use can also result in elevated dream recall and even scary nightmares.
Other cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis products may also affect sleep and dreams, but there isn’t enough research yet to know for sure!
REM Rebound: Reviving Vivid Dreams
For cannabis users accustomed to their nightly THC routine, vivid dreams may be nothing but a distant memory. However, since we now know that REM is a vital function for cognitive function, some may be interested in reviving that important phase of the sleep cycle.
Heavy cannabis consumers will sometimes experience intense dreams if they happen to press pause on their daily consumption. Refraining from weed for a while will cause a REM “rebound”, which means the return of vivid dreaming.
REM rebound can include strange or unusual dreams as the body becomes reacquainted with the REM stage of sleep.
In order to maintain the ability to dream, you may choose to take a break from cannabis consumption from time to time. The break can be a few days, weeks, or whatever works best for your body.
Temporarily refraining from THC products or consuming cannabis will allow the body to restore the natural sleep cycle, improving dream patterns.
How to Consume Cannabis for Sleep AND Maintain Dreams
While suppressing dreams isn’t good, neither is staying up all night due to anxiety, insomnia, or other sleep-depriving ailments. If you rely on cannabis for a good night’s sleep, there can be ways to consume cannabis for better sleep AND keep the REM phase in your regular sleep cycle.
Lower doses of cannabis may allow for restful sleep without disturbing the REM stage of sleep.
- Try smaller doses near bedtime
- Microdosing with incremental increases
- Experiment with CBD products
- Try other consumption methods such as edibles and tinctures
- Consult your physician
- Speak to a cannabis and sleep specialist
Everyone is different when it comes to cannabis consumption, sleep, and a happy balance. Find what works best for you by trying different doses, products, methods of consumption and speaking to experts.
CBD Products for Dreams
After talking to a cannabis-literate physician, you may decide to incorporate CBD products into your pre-sleep ritual. CBD products like gummies, candies, oils, and tinctures can all be a great, dream-friendly alternative to smoking.
Online retailers like Kootenay Botanicals carry a range of CBD (cannabidiol) products to try.
- CBD Gummies (Vitalita) come in a range of dose options for finding the perfect fit. Available in 750mg and 1500mg.
- CBD Isolate offers anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties without a dominant psychoactive response. Available in 500mg and 1000mg.
- CBD Tinctures offer a quality option for CBD isolate for relief of tension, headaches, pain, and anxiety. Available in 50mg and 1500 mg.
- CBD roll-on by Daily Remedy offers a low-dose CBD formula with 200mg of CBD per bottle.
Cannabis Life Network – Does Smoking Cannabis Affect Your Ability to Dream?
Leafly – Does Cannabis Affect Dreaming
Greater Good Berkely – Why your Brain Needs to Dream