The ability to sleep is essential for maintaining our good health. Our capacity to dream, however, is not such a clear-cut matter. No matter how much we learn about the human mind, science is still pretty much at a loss s to the true purpose of dreams. As anyone fond of weed will confirm, cannabis has a profound impact on dreams. People often notice they tend to dream less; and not using cannabis can increase both the frequency and intensity of dreams. This blog explores the realm of sleep, to figure out just how cannabis affects our dreams.
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Trip To Neverland: Why Do We Dream?
If we want to understand how cannabis affects our dreams, we need to reflect on the phenomenon of sleep. Why do we spend our nights going on dreamtime adventures? Intriguingly, we have been studying the phenomenon of dreaming for ages, without ever grasping what exactly goes on in that grey matter of ours when we drift off to Neverland.
Some believe our dreams contain valuable personal lessons. Allegedly, symbolic dream content holds valuable information that can tell us more about ourselves. Are you getting chased by monsters? Do you keep dreaming about dogs, babies, or walking around naked? Perhaps there is something you are unwilling or unable to face while awake, which yours dreams are trying to bring to your attention.
Symbolism And The Subconscious
According to some theories, the images and impressions that our dreams reveal are symbolic. Famous psychologists, including Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung, understood dreams as expressions of our subconscious mind, which we cannot access through rational thought. Such theories are all but impossible to prove, however, and so the debate on the subject is still alive today.
In spite of such theoretical problems, though, it could still be sensible to have a close look at the symbolic interpretation of your dreams and the way they make you feel. If you believe in this approach, that is: so far, nobody has ever proven that dreams are actual messages expressed by the subconscious brain. Dreams could just as well be the mind’s way of processing the dull, impressive, or emotional events of the day. Or perhaps they are the story our brain fabricates out of random activation patterns occurring as a kind of ‘screen saver mode’ sets in while we rest.
Dreams often appear as random images that help us organise the events of the previous day – if we can even recall them when we wake up in the first place. Yet even if they slip through our fingers in the early morning light, some scientists believe that dreams are crucial for keeping our memory intact.
No matter what you think about dreams, we know that the stage of sleep in which we dream is called REM sleep. The abbreviation denotes the Rapid Eye Movement that occurs behind our closed eyelids during this stage. Every night, we go through repetitive sleep cycles, each of which is made up of different stages, switching from REM to N(on)REM sleep as we go. About 20% of all the sleep a healthy person gets is REM sleep; quite a significant portion of our snoozing hours, in other words.
In spite of all that we don’t know about the purpose of dreams, we do know that cannabis has a specific impact on their behaviour.
How Cannabis Affects Dreams And Sleeping
Cannabis aficionados often say that weed affects their dreams and sleeping patterns. Unsurprisingly, many consumers use cannabis for medical reasons related to sleeping problems. These are usually unrelated to dreaming, though; getting more and better sleep is the most common reason, followed by attempts to counter fatigue.
Some frequent cannabis consumers say they dream only rarely. These claims were investigated in a small-scale study conducted by Pivik et al.
The research team administered THC to six participants before scrutinizing their sleeping patterns. It turned out that THC did not affect the first four stages of sleep. What did change, however, was a noticeable increase in brain activity during sleeping stage 4.
This stage is dedicated to deep sleep, a phase in which the body is busy restoring and repairing itself. This phase is essential for waking up feeling fresh and rested in the morning. Stage 5, which is dominated by REM sleep, was also affected by THC. Throughout this phase, THC in cannabis appears to suppress brain activity, which indicates fewer dreams with less intense content.
It seems that the impact of THC on our dreams is twofold: it can suppress REM stage activity while improving stage 4 deep sleep activation. That implies cannabis gives people fewer dreams, but more profound sleep. This could be beneficial in some ways, but it could have its drawbacks, too.
Studies indicate that CBD (cannabidiol) impacts sleep in its own way. Whether this effect also impacts our dreams not yet clear, since this cannabis compound is not psychoactive like THC is. We do know, though, that CBD can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. Perhaps that is a good reason to opt for cannabis with less THC and more CBD if you want to dream and still sleep soundly. A few drops of CBD Oil right before bedtime should get you the same results.
Fewer Dreams Through Cannabis: Potential Benefits
The obvious effect of cannabis on stage 4 of the sleep cycle is to improve how soundly we sleep. This is the main reason why cannabis is used for insomnia and related sleeping problems. Still, having fewer dreams can be beneficial too in certain cases. People who have frequent or recurring nightmares, such as those suffering from PTSD for instance, often wake up multiple times each night. They can also start to dread going to sleep for fear or reliving their nightmares. The same applies for many people coping with non-PTSD trauma. For some groups of people, then, having fewer dreams due to cannabis can be a distinct advantage.
Frequent nightmares can become a serious obstacle to getting enough sleep to stay sane and healthy. Having fewer dreams by using cannabis can help control disruptive sleep patterns, which can improve overall quality of life. In such cases, marijuana can promote sleeping all through the night to replenish the energy you need to function in the morning.
The Negative Impact Of Cannabis On Sleep
Even though we still have much to learn about our dreams, many scientists agree that one way or another, dreaming is beneficial for our mental health. Our nightly escapades are necessary to keep our memory in working order, they claim, as well as for processing the emotions and events we experience in waking life.
In spite of these assumptions, though, there is little evidence to support the claim that spending less time in REM sleep comes with clear negative consequences. On the other hand, REM is simply part of our usual sleeping cycle, so dreaming is likely to contribute to our health and wellbeing somehow. There is a real chance that having fewer dreams could be detrimental to our health, then; especially for the young brain that is still developing rapidly.
Cannabis Tolerance Breaks And Dreams
There is another way in which you can influence your dreams: having a cannabis tolerance break. Prolonged use of cannabis builds up the body’s tolerance to THC, which gradually reduces the impact of the substance. Having a bit of a break can reverse this process, increasing sensitivity to cannabis including its impact on dreams.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that tolerance breaks lead to more vivid dreams. This phenomenon is known as the REM rebound. Many people admit to noticing its effect. They experience how their dreams become more frequent, more intense, and more vivid during and immediately after cannabis tolerance breaks.
How To Handle Cannabis And Dreams
It seems clear that cannabis affects our quality of sleep as well as our dreams. For insomniacs, weed can be a real solution, improving their chance of sleeping through the night and reducing the likelihood of nightmares. Although this comes at the cost of reducing the amount of REM sleep, cannabis can be very helpful indeed for those whose dreams are a constant source of anxiety.
We do need further research, however, to improve our grasp on the long-term relationship between dreams and cannabis. The myriad processes of the human body all happen for a reason. We are complex yet efficient organisms with no interest in spending energy on useless activities. Even if we do not yet fully comprehend the purpose of dreams, they are likely to benefit us in ways we may not suspect at this point.
That makes it important to stay aware of how cannabis affects our lives, and of whether having fewer dreams impacts our everyday functioning in society.
Growing The Cannabis Of Your Dreams
We know plenty of cannabis lovers with ganja growing dreams. But how do you keep your homegrown harvest from robbing you of your dreams in turn? Our main tip: keep an eye on your weed intake, especially right after harvest time. The right drying and curing methods can help you preserve that stash for a very long time, so there’s no need to rush and smoke it all at once. We have plenty of strains to help you sleep well, including our kush range and indica-dominant variants with heavily relaxing bodybuzz effects. Our collection comprises a selection of premium seeds that are bound to send you snoring, pronto.
Check out our indica strains here
No matter what, it’s best if you make sure you have other relaxing activities besides weed, or you may start to rely on cannabis to help you sleep. Enjoy a healthy diet, try to keep some rhythm in your daily activities, and make sure you get enough exercise. Try planning a tolerance break every now and then, and don’t roll up right before going to bed. These measures should enable anyone to enjoy cannabis without watching their dreams go up in smoke!