What Dreams May (Not) Come: Marijuana and REM Sleep


Are you smoking more and dreaming less?  If so, you are not alone.

Research has shown a link between the cannabinoids in marijuana, such as THC, and a marked reduction in dreaming. Some users report a near-total cessation of dreams.

RELATED: Does Cannabis Treat Insomnia?

Researchers believe this is due to the way in which cannabinoids mimic many of the chemicals normally found in the brain. This chemical interaction causes a reduction in the REM (rapid eye movement) part of the sleep cycle, which is when dreams occur.

The link between marijuana and reduced REM sleep — and dreaming — is reinforced by a phenomenon known as REM Rebound, which occurs when a frequent marijuana user stops using marijuana. During REM Rebound, individuals who have stopped using marijuana have reported periods of prolonged, vivid dreaming.

Researchers credit this to REM-related brain chemistry returning to higher-than-normal levels after being suppressed by THC. The effect usually wears off in days or weeks but varies depending on the individual.

Reduced REM sleep can have a number of negative effects, including a general inability to learn new tasks or to retain new information.

This may be a cause of concern for heavy marijuana users.

However, for others, the jury may still be out.

Many users report an opposite effect that that reported by researchers, and claim that rather than suppressing their dreams, marijuana instead enhances their dreams. Many report that they have vivid dreams, or dreams in which they are active participants, if they smoke immediately before going to bed.

And while marijuana may have effects on what the actual sleep is like, more research is showing that it has proven to be an effective sleep aid for many people, becoming an effective treatment for insomnia. 

As with most things marijuana-related, your personal experience will vary, and will be affected by a wide range of factors, including the amount that you smoke, THC levels, and your sleep patterns.


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Want to read more? Check these stories out:

Responsible Parenting and Pot: How I Found Balance

Marijuana and Migraines: Treatment and Prevention

Out of the Fog: A Cannabis Success Story


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