Many people who use cannabis just do so to accomplish the high feeling, or even for a good night’s rest. Many of those same people don’t even know the science behind cannabis and its effect on their dreams and sleep.
One effect of cannabis that is very obvious is its ability to make persons feel relaxed and drowsy. However, the head of the Amsterdam Sleep Centre in the Netherlands and a reputable neurologist and somnologist, Dr. Hans Hamburger, believes some research still needs to be done.
His reservations stem from the over 200 chemical components that make up marijuana products, including CBD and THC, that still need exploration. He also pointed out that the differences in methodologies of the trials conducted with persons all over the world create room for debate.
Hamburger confirms the following to be true:
Cannabis can reduce REM sleep
REM(Rapid eye movement sleep) is a stage of the sleep cycle where brain activity increases and persons experience intense dreams. This stage of the sleep cycle consists of rapid eye movement, more bodily movement, increased pulse and breathing along with vivid dreams. This typically lasts for about 90 to 120 minutes in adults and is much longer in babies.
Hamburger explains that THC influences REM sleep to the extent that it reduces its length and increases the length of the “deep sleep” stage. The cause of this is highly debated by scientists but persons who suffer from anxiety, and sleep disorders seemingly stand to benefit.
According to Dr, Raffaele Manni, the head of Italy’s Sleep Medicine and Epilepsy Unit of the National Institute of Neurology, “Acute consumption of cannabidiol has been reported to have a sedative effect on the nervous system. This could very well be a reason for the reduction seen in REM sleep.
Cannabis makes you dream less
Persons who suffer from night terrors may be pleased to hear this, along with light sleepers, however, REM sleep stage has proven to be important for stimulating the learning, memory and retention parts of the brain.
Therefore, a disruption in REM sleep stage not only causes a reduction in dreaming but also in remembering what you have learned prior to sleep. A lack of REM sleep has also been linked to migraines.
Nonetheless, Hamburger and Manni both agree that it is beneficial for persons who suffer from PTSD, anxiety, bad dreams, and depression. The only drawback is that the nature of the dreams won’t change. Only the frequency.
As Hamburger puts it, “What we dream, thus the content of our dreams, is not influenced by cannabis. The contents of dreams depends on the psychological background of the user.
Quitting Cannabis Returns Your Dreams
Persons who have used cannabis to address sleep-related issues will tell you that their dreams not only return when they stop using cannabis, but they also become more vivid.
Manni explains that this is due to a withdrawal symptom caused by REM rebound. This causes all of the effects of stopping REM sleep to come rushing in all at once.
Luckily, according to Hamburger, this period of intense dreams lasts for a short period, up to 10 days.
So What Is The Key To A Good Night’s Sleep?
Many Canadians, approximately a third of all residents, suffer from some degree of insomnia or restlessness at night. This makes getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep much more difficult. As a result, they turn to cannabis to solve this issue.
Hamburger believes there is a much simpler solution. He also warns that the effects on the mental benefits of natural sleep might not be worth it.
Instead, he recommends putting down devices at least three hours before bedtime. The, simply lay in bed until you fall asleep naturally.
This applies more to persons who are simply restless, and not necessarily anxiety patients. Medical cannabis is indeed useful for anxiety and sleep disorders, but like everything in life, there are side effects.