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Learn | 03.25.2022

How Does Cannabis Affect Sleep?

Looking at how cannabis affects the REM cycle and dreams.

The old saying goes, “Nightmares got more vivid when I stopped smoking pot,” or at least that’s how Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean put it.

And science backs them up. Have you ever wondered why your dreams are less intense when regularly consuming marijuana? In fact, most cannabis users can attest that they have no dreams whatsoever until they take a tolerance break.

While many consumers use cannabis as a tool to sleep, it could also be of use for those who suffer from recurring nightmares, especially when caused by mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

A 2009 study published in the journal of CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics looked at how a synthetic cannabinoid, nabilone, could help those with recurring nightmares.

The study examined 47 patients diagnosed with PTSD and who were referred to a psychiatric clinic between 2004 and 2006. The majority of these patients were seeking help to combat recurring trauma-incused nightmares, even though they were also taking antidepressants and hypnotics, notes GreenState.

72% of the patients in the study report their nightmares were significantly less intense after dosing nabilone or disappeared altogether.

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The researchers left us with some final words that explain how the study indicates “the potential benefits of nabilone…in patients with PTSD experiencing poor control of nightmares with standard pharmacotherapy.”

We know 2009 might seem like a long time ago, but the study’s findings spurred other researchers and scientists to examine how THC in marijuana could also reduce nightmares. Most findings from studies analyzing THC and sleep conclude similarities that report how THC can reduce the intensity of dreams and nightmares.

Have you ever smoked some potent weed before bed and woke up the next day feeling lethargic? This is a direct result of THC’s impacts on the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, better known as the REM cycle.

One study notes that THC reduces the time an individual stays in the REM cycle, one of the most vital parts of our day that’s said to help with memory and mental health.

By not fully experiencing a complete REM cycle (the point at which we dream), you’re not really getting a full and healthy sleep, but you’re also reducing the chances of nightmares and intense dreams.

While that’s both positive and negative, we trust you know how your body will react to your cannabis use, so consume wisely.

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