I read this excellent article on Leafly today about cannabis and dreaming, and it got me thinking about my own experience with dreaming (or lack thereof) since I became a regular cannabis user 8 years ago.
The author states: “Not long ago, I took a 3-week tolerance break from cannabis. I normally don’t dream much at all, and when I do, they’re typically unremarkable and unmemorable. But a few days into my t-break, I had vivid dreams involving herds of unicorns, a sky full of red balloons, a backdrop of exploding volcanoes, and the disembodied, narrating voice of Tommy Wiseau. It was so vivid that I expected to wake up in this strange apocalypse, only to find myself back in a drab reality devoid of unicorns and balloon-filled skies.”
Indeed, I have found a similar effect. Whether I’m not dreaming, or simply not remembering, I can’t say, but it is something that I have definitely noticed – if I sleep through the night I rarely wake up remembering anything after putting my head down the night before.
But wait, isn’t that a bad thing?
Well, probably not. Cannabis is not affecting the ‘deep sleep’ cycle, and may actually just be putting me straight into it, suppressing REM sleep. While studies show that the deep sleep cycle is something we need, people seem to get on just fine without REM sleep. Leafly states that “Studies using EEG recordings show that even with minimal REM sleep, subjects report no obvious adverse effects in their day-do-day. However, this is not the case with non-REM deep sleep cycles.” It does also say that they are looking into links between REM sleep and information and skill retention, so more studies are needed to properly understand how REM suppression may affect developing brains.
What is Suppressing REM sleep good for?
Suppressing the REM sleep is particularly good for people with post-traumatic stress order (PTSD) who may experience frequent, recurring nightmares as part of their symptoms. Using cannabis helps alleviate these symptoms, and one user on Leafly stated that “I suffer from PTSD and was told to try this strain by my doctor. I had no symptoms of my disorder and actually slept with no nightmares for the first time in 6 months.” Another interesting fact – antidepressants also suppress REM sleep.
Cannabis is also good for other sleep disorders, particularly insomnia and nightmares. Edibles are particularly effective on me, probably due to the presence of CBN which makes me nice and sleepy. The cannabutter we made a few months ago was great for that!
So, if I’m a regular cannabis user will I never dream again?
The amount you dream or remember your dreams seems to vary from person to person, and I’d be interested to hear from other cannabis users about how cannabis affects your dreaming. More studies are needed because it doesn’t affect everybody in the same way.
I do have dreams sometimes if I wake up early (say 6 am) and then go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I wake up remembering them clearly, although they aren’t particularly vivid. This may be due to going back into the sleep-cycle while not high, leading to REM sleep.
I can’t conclude whether suppressing REM sleep means skipping dreaming altogether or just forgetting it by the morning, but I can see the medical benefit as a sleep aid and a PTSD treatment. As more studies are done we’ll undoubtedly learn more about how cannabis affects sleep. But we do know it helps a lot of people, and that we should have legal access to cannabis here in the UK.
how long have you been smoking, and do you remember your dreams? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @ISMOKEMAG