How Cannabis Influences Dreaming
Ever wondered why you struggled to recall your dreams after a night time toke, but after a brief hiatus your dreams were more vivid than ever? Well, the answer may indeed lie with your bedtime bud.
According to a growing number of studies, people who smoke marijuana before bed are less likely to be able to recall their dreams the next morning. However, when these individuals stop smoking, they tend to experience more intense dreams than before - question is why?
Marijuana is widely known to affect various aspects of sleep, affecting activities far beyond just dreaming states. This phenomenon can be best explained through exploration of the sleeping cycle, or more specifically the stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Marijuana and REM Sleep
It is believed that the brain is at its most active during REM sleep state and it is at this stage where dreaming most occurs. Numerous studies have shown that marijuana consumption before bed actually reduces REM sleep. Researchers believe this is why marijuana users report fewer dreams.
During the night, our brains are said to transition between 4 different stages of sleep, spending the majority of the time in deep sleep and REM sleep. The amount of time spent in these two stages is closely related. In fact, studies show that marijuana lengthens the time the brain spends in deep sleep, which as a result reduces the latter.
The actual density of Rapid eye movement (as a result of THC or marijuana use before bed) is also said to be reduced. Interestingly enough, less REM density has been linked to more restful sleep - shedding further light on why users say they feel far more invigorated the next morning after a bedtime blaze.
What Happens Come Quitting Time?
Regular users of cannabis experience an abnormal spike in REM sleep once consumption is curbed. This activity is described as the REM 'rebound effect', which leads to longer and denser periods of REM sleep. The REM rebound explains why cannabis users often experience highly vivid dreaming when reducing consumption.
Interestingly, REM sleep isn't solely perturbed by cannabis use alone. REM rebounds can also occur as result of alcohol consumption and sleep medication. What’s more, people who are sleep deprived often undergo a rebound in non-REM sleep.
A Sleeping Balancing Act
With research into the importance of REM sleep is still in its infancy, one thing is fairly certain: Our bodies need it! That being said it's too soon to jump to conclusions about marijuana and whether it has a damaging effect upon REM sleep. Many if not most users of marijuana have benefitted from the induced deep sleep the plant provides. Like REM sleep, deep sleep is very important, many believe it to be the most integral sleep stage for repairing and restoring the body. With all that pillow talk in mind, once more concrete evidence surfaces I'm sure we'll all sleep a lot better.