Dreams, dreams, dreams. For many, we have a love/hate relationship with dreams. This seems to be especially true amongst the cannabis community. It seems that anyone who consumes cannabis either dreams all the time, or hardly ever at all. But how do cannabis and dreams coincide?
To fully understand how cannabis may or may not affect dreaming, it is first essential to understand the different stages of sleep. When you enter into rest, your body will go through 5 stages of sleep. Each progressive stage is classified by a deeper state of sleep.
Stages 1-4 Are a Bore
The first four stages of sleep, which are known commonly as NREM stages (Non-Rapid Eye Movement Stages), tend to progress over the first 1-1.5 hours after you have fallen asleep. The first 3 NREM stages are pretty similar with only minor changes in the depth of your rest. The fourth NREM stage, however, is where you finally enter the “deep sleep” stage. Here is a breakdown of these 4 stages according to keytocannabis.com.
“There are three stages of Non-REM (NREM): N1 sleep is when you’re just dozing off, N2 sleep occurs when you transition from one stage of sleep to another, N3 (slow wave sleep), is the most physically and mentally restorative, and N4 sleep is considered deep sleep. Most people repeat the cycle about three times a night over the course of 8 hours.”
REM – No, Not the Band!
The fifth stage known as the REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage is where dreaming commences. This stage of sleep is typically obtained after 70-100 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. Polyphasic sleepers, however, can often achieve this state within 20 minutes.
This stage which makes up about 20% of our sleep cycles is where the magic (or curse for some) of dreams comes into play. This stage of sleep is triggered or activates a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. This means that dreams are linked to neural activity. The question is though, how does cannabis affect this process?
Dreaming Cannabis into the Picture
So, when it comes to cannabis and dreams, how do the two intertwine? The science that we do have suggests that cannabis consumption leads to less dreaming. It also, however, suggests that how much you consume, and how often could play major factors in how your cannabis consumption attributes to your dreams or perhaps lack of. According to The Fresh Toast, “A 1973 study suggests that THC reduces the amount of time it takes those with insomnia to fall asleep. Another study found that those who regularly used THC fell asleep faster.” MarijuanaBreak states the following in regard to how THC affects the different sleep cycles.
“Unlike REM, the body cannot function long-term without a complete presence of the other 4 sleep stages – especially the “deep sleep” stage 4 cycle. For this reason, it is great that THC does not impact any of these initial four stages negatively and has even been shown to lengthen the fourth stage a little.”
Here is what the science says, according to Dr. Hans Hamburger, a Dutch neurologist.
“Every night, you go through … a series of sleep cycles. Each cycle takes about ninety minutes, during which you go through different phases. There’s superficial sleep, deep sleep, and finally REM sleep. During that REM period, you have most of your dreams. You don’t usually remember your dreams if you continue sleeping. The last REM period just before you wake up takes the longest—and you’ll only remember the dreams you had in that time if you wake up during it. If you don’t wake up during the REM period, you won’t remember a thing.”
So, what does all this mean. Put simply, if you are a regular consumer of cannabis or if you utilize cannabis to treat sleep-related disorders, chances are you dream much less than if you would not consuming cannabis. Not only this, but you likely do not remember your dreams when in a THC induced sleep if you do reach the REM stage and dreaming occurs. This is why many cannabis consumers report having more dreams and more vivid dreams when they are taking a tolerance break or have been unable to consume for whatever devilish reason for a period of time.
Do you toke up on the regular? Do you utilize cannabis to sleep? If so, we would love to hear about your cannabis dreams or lack thereof!