I Dream Of Cannabis: Does Cannabis Affect Your Dreams?
You ever have that dream where you’re running and running and then your actual leg twitches (not the dream one). Freaky, right? Dreams often have that effect on us. They can either be great or horrible, so it’s no wonder so many are turning to cannabis to help with those extra stressors in life.
But in this case, we’re not talking about why we use cannabis, but rather, what cannabis does to our dreams. Does cannabis actually affect our dreams?
We’ll be discussing that and more throughout this piece, so you’ll be in the know.
Covered by BATCH: Does cannabis affect your dreams?
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Does Cannabis Affect Your Dreams?
Maybe. We know that’s not the clear answer you’re looking for, but there’s more to the story here. Sleep itself is still largely being studied and understood by researchers, so throwing cannabis into the situation may be preliminary currently. However, the understanding we have of sleep and why we dream is similarly being studied to better understand its mechanism.
This can be seen as something called sleep architecture, which is a general term for the basic organization of normal sleep. This involves the two types of sleep: non rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM), which is then further divided into other stages. Sleep is generally measured by these stages because of its cyclical nature to achieve an appropriate amount of hours of sleep per night.
Thanks to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) we understand sleep to be a crucial part of proper brain function. According to research, sleep affects everything from the brain to the lugs and even metabolism.
Why Do We Dream?
We don’t know! That’s not the whole answer of course, but there is largely a lot about why we dream that we still don’t know. The Cleveland Clinic mentions that the act of dreaming helps us to analyze memories, skills, habits to help face challenges in the daytime.
This is considered the third stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep. You normally reach this stage an hour after first falling asleep and your breathing and heart rate become very slow as you relax. According to the Sleep Foundation, deep sleep is crucial for brain functioning (think cognitive function and memory) and for other physical functions such as regulating glucose metabolism.
During this type of sleep the body actually releases growth hormone which helps to build and repair muscles, bones and tissue. It also serves to aid in immune system functioning. We can also think of NREM sleep as essentially three different stages of sleep with unique brain functioning occurring in each.
N1 - Light Sleep - Lasts around 1 to 5 minutes and the lightest stage of sleep.
N2 - Deeper Sleep - Lasts around 25 minutes and your heart and breathing drop in this stage.
N3 - Deepest Non-REM Sleep - Hardest to wake from in this stage, but the body repairs and strengthens the immune system in this stage. This is also where nightmares and sleepwalking may occur.
Dreaming sleep, also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is where dreaming occurs. Compared to NREM sleep, REM sleep is still a deep stage but with more brain activity. This stage is also considered the deepest state of sleep, but it does not occur for the longest amount of time.
Because dreaming occurs at this stage, this is not often considered the most restful point of sleep. Your breathing may become irregular, your eyes may blink or move rapidly, and the brain is highly active (resulting in the dreaming or even nightmare episodes).
Cannabis And Sleep
The Sleep Foundation conducted a study in 2019 and found that CBD calms the nervous system by showing that:
- 80% of participants found relief from anxiety symptoms after one month of use.
- 65% of participants found that their sleep was immediately improved.
While this is only one study, it may suggest the growing interest in better understanding not only sleep, but how we can sleep better with sleep aids. Indica and sativa are considered popular strains due to their respective calming and euphoric feelings. Interestingly, the Sleep Foundation mentions that indica may be better for sleep and sativa may be better to avoid nightmares.
Further preliminary research suggests that CBD may have potential for treating insomnia. This could become a potential option for those dealing with insomnia or other sleep disorders, but unwilling to take sleep medication. Some of which become highly addictive or present their own issues.
For more information on how cannabis may be effective, you can always discuss potential options with your doctor. They will be able to better explain your personal medical history and how cannabis products may impact you and your sleep habits.
How Cannabis Affects Dreams
The type of cannabis used often has an impact on dreams. Below we’ve broken down some different types and how they relate to sleep.
Delta 8 THC vs. Sleep
As the CB1 receptor plays an important role in the nervous system to regulate pain and anxiety, delta 8 is designed to create a calming feeling. Delta 8 binds to the CB1 receptor which most commonly impacts sleep, anxiety, and even hunger to name a few. There is an intended calming effect when taking delta-8, but it may not be the cannabinoid choice for all.
Delta 9 THC vs. Sleep
While Delta 9 is different from delta 8 THC, they do have similar effects just varying based on the structure of the molecule. A 2004 study found that delta 9 was more sedative when given to patients, whereas CBD was more alerting and increased awake activity during sleep.
CBD vs. Sleep
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid type that does not produce psychoactive effects or cause a euphoric effect as seen with THC products. With growing interest in the use of CBD for sleep issues, a 2018 study found that CBD did reduce insomnia symptoms more effectively than THC.
Another recent study found that CBD did not change sleep architecture when administered to patients. This means that the patients were able to well tolerate CBD and still move through the different stages of sleep.
CBD For Dreams And Nightmares
As CBD may be effective in treating anxiety issues, it may also play a role in the sleep that follows. The basic idea being that if we address any anxiety then this may aid in going to sleep and subsequent dreams or nightmares. A lot may build up during the day, so the use of CBD may have more to do with understanding your anxiety first and then addressing issues with sleep.
However, it’s important that you discuss any sleep disorders or other chronic conditions with your doctor before taking a cannabis based product. They will be able to better explain how a CBD product may or may not be beneficial to any sleep issues. Alternatively, they could also want to ensure that there aren’t any other reasons as to why you are having issues with sleep.
Does Cannabis Get Rid Of Dreams?
Not that we know of. Because cannabis and sleep research are still both in their infancy, it is difficult to determine the total impact on sleep and dreams. You may find that the use of cannabis calms you first, which could have a larger effect on your dreams.
However, we do not yet understand the full nature of dreaming and how cannabis plays into the equation. With additional findings we find a better conclusion in years to come.
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