Many weed smokers swear by a few hits before bed to send them peacefully into dreamland. It works like a charm. Do we dream less because of it?
There are two main types of sleep. The first is Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) which is considered a quiet sleep. The second is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is active sleep. Within these two types, there are four stages we all go through each time we slumber.
NREM Stage 1: Beginning of the cycle. Slow brain waves. Lasts about 5-10 minutes.
NREM Stage 2: Body temperature drops. Bursts of brain wave activity occur. Lasts about 20 minutes.
NREM Stage 3: Less responsive. Muscles relax. Blood pressure and breathing rate drop. Deepest sleep occurs during this stage.
REM Stage 4: Brain becomes more active. Body is relaxed and immobilized. Eyes move rapidly. Dreams occur. An estimated 20% of sleep time is spent in this stage.
There is evidence that marijuana can interfere with REM sleep. Feinberg, et al (1975) compared sleep patterns of experienced marijuana users on THC vs placebo. Feinberg, et al. (1975) concluded reduced rapid eye movement activity and less REM sleep in the THC users. Alternatively, the same study shows that THC withdrawal can increase REM activity.
It’s official; weed can affect our dreams. We can certainly fall asleep quickly under the influence, but in turn have reduced activity during REM sleep which reduces our chance of vivid dreams. While those withdrawing from THC can have more active REM sleep, and more vivid dreams.
I now find myself analyzing my own sleep and dreams. I smoke daily, especially at night. I suppose I don’t dream as often as I used to. Or at least I don’t recall those dreams. The trade off here is that being high (while awake) can be similar to a dream state. While I don’t hallucinate, I am relaxed and hazy. Two of my favorite feelings.
Do you dream more or less after smoking? Do you have any reoccurring dreams while high? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Feinberg, I., Jones, R, Walker JM, Cavness, C, March, J. (1975). Effects of high dosage delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on sleep patterns in man. Clin Parmacol Ther. 1975; 17(4):458-66.