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Does cannabis affect your dreams?

by druginc

Does cannabis affect your dreams?

For some of us, a regular herbal nightcap makes it much easier to fall asleep, and centuries of anecdotal evidence confirms the usefulness of cannabis as a sleep aid. Ancient Chinese pharmacology combined cannabis flower with datura to create the elegantly named 'astute sleeping powder' or shui sheng san. Western medicine is catching up with increasing research on cannabis before bed.

But what about the effects of cannabis on dreams? If you're already very familiar with weed, you probably know that periods of heavy use will diminish, if not completely, your nighttime imaginations. Conversely, we often see that periods of cannabis abstinence can cause the bizarre dreams to fail again.

So how about this? How and why does cannabis affect the dream phase of sleep, and should you be concerned?

How you dream

The sleep-wake cycle consists of four phases that are repeated several times during a typical night. Stage 1 is the lightest and shortest sleep stage and takes only 5% of the total cycle. Stage 2 signals an acceleration in a deeper slumber, with heart rate and temperature dropping. About 50% of sleep occurs in phase 2.

Stage 3 is the deepest stage of sleep. Waking up during this phase will leave you feeling drowsy and cognitively handicapped for an hour. Tissue repair and growth takes place in phase 3, along with strengthening the immune system.

The fourth phase is REM sleep or dream sleep. REM refers to rapid eye movement, which takes place while you are dreaming. A maximum of about two hours is dreamed of every night.

Dreaming: why it is so important

Scientists and sleep experts have been debating the purpose of dreams for decades. Until recently, the usefulness of the REM phase was somewhat weakened. In recent years, modern sleep guru Dr. However, Matthew Walker along with other experts emphasizes the importance of REM sleep, confirming that this dream sleep is fundamental to your well-being and performance.

According to Walker, REM sleep removes the painful parts associated with traumatic or emotional episodes experienced during the day. In addition to providing emotional resolution, dreams enhance the creative process and problem-solving skills by combining individual memories in abstract and new ways.

Dreaming also plays a role in formulating overarching rules based on knowledge that the brain has acquired during the day. Fascinatingly, REM sleep is the only time norepinephrine, a terrifying molecule, is dramatically reduced in the brain.

Research conducted in 2016 on mice also indicates that the persistent REM sleep deprivation for 72 hours impairs spatial memory. So it may be that you have more trouble finding objects, or that you run into things faster and are bothered by them. The study reported that this reduced condition persisted for at least 21 days after REM sleep was restored.

"Dreaming is not only a funny thing that happens while we sleep, but it is an essential part of the recovery process and maintenance of the memory and learning apparatus," emphasized Dr. Jordan Tishler, President and CEO of the Association of Cannabis Specialists and an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "The deprivation of REM, in particular, can lead to cognitive impairment and mood swings."

About Cannabis: How Does It Affect Dreams?

When it comes to determining the effects of cannabis on dreams, the answer is not entirely clear. “There are a number of sleep studies showing that cannabis can reduce or suppress REM sleep,” said Dr. Tishler. The bigger question is whether this is good or bad. The answer, as usual, is "it depends." ”

Scientists are starting to explore the effects of specific cannabinoids on dreams.

THC, one of the main psychoactive components of cannabis, has been shown to suppress REM sleep, although it is important to note that these findings are not always consistent.

“Cannabis consumption, and especially THC consumption, shortens REM sleep, preventing most people from dreaming due to too little time spent in this phase during sleep,” said Kebra Smith-Bolden, registered nurse and CEO of CannaHealth.

A 2019 study found that cannabis users showed less overall REM sleep than non-consumers, and experienced more unusual things when they recalled their dreams.

Does CBD affect dreams?

With the rapid rise of CBD as a sleep aid, you may be wondering what effects it has on dreams. While these effects are still not well understood, a 2017 review of sleep, cannabis, and cannabinoids suggests that dosing appears to affect your dreams.

The review reported that high dose CBD increased the onset of REM sleep on the day of administration, while a medium dose CBD decreased the onset of REM sleep on the day after administration.

CBD consumers have anecdotally said that the cannabinoid significantly affects their dreams, with some experiencing more vivid and lucid dreams, more positive dreams (including sex dreams), and a super-enhanced memory of their nighttime adventures.

In addition, there is evidence that CBD could be a promising treatment for REM sleep behavior disorder, allowing diagnosed people to carry out (often terrifying) dreams in violent or vocal ways.

These dream disorders are more common in people with PTSD. "For patients with nightmares, such as those with PTSD, some degree of REM suppression may be good," explains Tishler.

Other minor cannabinoids and terpenes may also be working behind the scenes and influencing our dreams, but there is currently not enough research to reveal their role.

What is REM rebound?

Heavy cannabis consumers may experience crazy dreams if they take a break or don't use weed for a while.

"Rebound is characterized by the return of vivid and unusual dreams as your mind is re-introduced to the REM phase of sleep," said Smith-Bolden.

While REM rebound provides a means for the mind to regain lost dream sleep, it can be troubling, according to Tishler. Those who undergo REM rebound often experience more nightmares, denser REM sleep, a faster REM sleep attack, and extended REM sleep cycles to pay off the accumulated debt. "For these and many other reasons, heavy cannabis use is therefore not recommended," added Tishler.

I regularly use cannabis - how do I protect the REM phase now?

If cannabis is your sleep aid, it is extremely important to avoid switching between excessive REM sleep suppression and REM rebound.

"For most people, REM suppression probably isn't right," says Tishler. 'Of course insomnia isn't good for you either'. Tishler therefore advises finding a balance between overall sleep and REM sleep in particular.

“It turns out that this relationship is very dose-dependent. Small doses of cannabis lead to a good night's sleep with no apparent REM suppression, or not much, while higher doses are clearly more problematic, ”he explains.

For those who have persistent insomnia, or more than three bad nights a week, he recommends seeing a doctor and then seeking the help of a cannabis specialist with their approval.

"The approach to treatment will vary depending on the type of insomnia you are experiencing," said Tishler. Don't just rely on advice from your buddy or well-intentioned friend. They can propose dramatically outrageous approaches that can backfire. Low doses are more effective. ”

Likewise, Bolden-Smith emphasizes that beginners using cannabis as a sleep aid should start with microdosing. "Increase gradually until your sleep goals are met," she advised. This way you can harness the sleepy powers of the cannabis flower while protecting your REM sleep.

Sleep well for later!

Sources: CanadaHouseClinics (EN), GreenEntrepreneur (EN), Leafly (EN), vice (EN)

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