If you’re in the habit of smoking weed before bed you’ve likely noticed: your weed-induced sleeps are pretty radio-static on the dream front – and when you take a break, it’s quite the opposite.
If you’re in the habit of smoking weed before bed you’ve likely noticed: your weed-induced sleeps are pretty radio-static on the dream front – and when you take a break, it’s quite the opposite. Why does weed lead to dreamless sleeps, and quitting seems to give you more?
Here’s why: where smoking pot can help you fall asleep quickly, it hinders your deep REM sleep, the part of your sleep cycle where you dream. Sabrina Ramkellawan, VP, of Clinical Affairs at TerrAscend confirms: “THC suppresses dreams due to it decreasing REM sleep time and increase non-REM sleep – REM sleep is where most dreams happen, so if you decrease ‘dream time’ it suppresses dream activity.” Less REM sleep time, less dreaming.
… and that also means, less time for detoxifying processes that happen during REM-sleep, too. REM sleep is a key time when our body restores and repairs itself; our tissue and muscle cells repair themselves, our brains slow down and sorts through all the stimulus we absorb during the day, and we basically ready ourselves for a new day. So, not only are your medicated nights very likely to be dreamless, they’re also likely not as healing, in general.
If you do tend to feel slightly dazed in the morning after smoking the night before (some of us are more sensitive to it than others), and you take a break from smoking, be prepared for a period of super-vivid dreams to follow. This is because your sleep-waking cycle is adjusting back to it’s (perhaps not as fast-occurring but more quality) state, unaided by cannabis.
Sabrina explains: “once someone withdraws, their sleep is disrupted and they are more likely to wake up (during or after REM sleep) and remember their dreams which is why they feel its extra vivid.” So, it’s not actually that your dreams become more vivid, it’s just that your sleep cycle is adjusting in a way that increases your dream recall.
If you’ve relied on pot to get right to sleep for some time, then you can count on that withdrawal period being v. dreamy. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unless, for you, it is. If you don’t like dreaming (shout-out to anyone dealing with PTSD, or, otherwise, nightmares), pot can definitely help you get by, so coming off of it could be difficult.
Here’s a tip if that’s you: try switching to CBD pre-sleep, rather than THC. CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, has also proven to decrease dream recall, but rather than do so by suppressing REM sleep entirely, it prolongs the specific stage of it that’s associated with deep sleep, and shortens the part associated with light sleeping – so, it gives you a shorter but quality REM sleep. Using it can help a person experience fewer dreams and depression symptoms. Use it as a topical, tincture, or edible.
If you’re not worried about what might feel like an onslaught of dreams for a few days though, then don’t worry. Feel free to come and go with your pre-bed pot habit as you see fit – some of us will wake up feeling foggy, others won’t. Own your pre-bed pot habit and make it work for you.