Cannabis has long been used as an all-natural sleep-aid, indica strains are particularly geared towards promoting a deep and restful sleep. While cannabis can help users fall asleep faster, and even lengthen our deep sleep cycle, it has a serious impact on our dreams.
Cannabis and Dreams
Long term cannabis users can build up a tolerance over time, meaning they need to consume more and more cannabis for the same results. Many regular users will take something called a tolerance break (T Break) where they stop consuming cannabis for a few days, or even weeks in order to reset this built up tolerance.
If you have taken a tolerance break you probably already know how it can impact your dreams. Many people report having extremely vivid and memorable dreams after stopping cannabis use for a few days. This ‘rebound phenomenon’ has been studied extensively, and we finally have a good understanding of how cannabis can affect our sleep cycle and how it can influence our dreams.
Stages of Sleep
Before we dive into the effects cannabis can have on our dreams it’s important to understand the different stages of sleep. There are 4 stages of sleep as well as a REM stage (rapid eye movement). During REM sleep is when dreams occur, our body becomes paralyzed, our eyes move rapidly, heart rate increases and brain activity ramps up significantly.
Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle are referred to as our deep sleep stage (since lumped into one stage). Experts suggest that the deep sleep cycle is an integral time period when the body repairs itself and you achieve a feeling of restfulness.
Studies have shown that cannabis use can severely diminish the time we spend in REM sleep, meaning less time spent dreaming. In contrast, cannabis users often spend more time in the deep sleep stages of sleep, leading to a more restful sleep.
Cannabis users who stop cold-turkey to reset their tolerance will often find it difficult to fall asleep immediately after stopping. They’ll also experience something called the “rebound phenomenon”, which refers to their increase in REM sleep which cause far more vivid dreams.
Individuals who use cannabis daily for years will often report that they never dream. While they’re still actually having dreams in their shortened REM cycle, they don’t remember them. This makes the dreams during a tolerance break feel far more intense.