Have your dreams stopped since you started smoking marijuana? There’s more to the story than you might think. In this first segment of our Sweet Dreams series, we’re going to examine one important question: can marijuana prevent dreams?
Can marijuana stop dreams?
Understanding sleep cycles
Deep sleep is vital if you want to wake up and feel refreshed the next day. It’s also essential to maintaining good physical health, as damages that accrue in a day are healed during this sleep stage. It is extremely difficult to wake up when you’re in deep sleep. If you regularly sleep through your alarm, you might have been in deep sleep.
As you get older, you tend to spend less time in deep sleep. However, aging adults still need the same amount of deep sleep as they did when they were younger.
During REM sleep, your mind becomes quite active, breathing becomes shallow and irregular, heart rate increases, and blood pressure rises. REM sleep is thought to play a part in storing memories, balancing mood, and learning.
You only remember your dreams if you happen to wake up in the middle of this stage. As morning approaches, you spend more time in REM sleep, which is why you often remember dreams right when you wake up.
How does marijuana affect dreams?
As you spend more time in deep sleep, you also increase your chances of waking up from a deep sleep as well. This can cause mental fog, sluggishness, and will prevent you from remembering your dreams. Perhaps this is why many people feel groggy after a night of smoking.
In an interview with VICE, somnologist (sleep specialist) Dr. Hans Hamburger of the Holland Sleep Center explains why this sleep alteration is important:
“By smoking weed, you suppress the REM sleep, and with that you also suppress a lot of important functions of that REM sleep. One of those functions is reliving the things you have experienced and coming to terms with them, as it were. Processing all kinds of psychological influences is something you do in REM sleep.
You also anticipate the things that will happen the next day or the days after that. While you’re sleeping, you already consider those and make decisions in advance.” – Hamburger
For folks who enjoy dreaming, this is bad news bears. But, extended time in deep sleep is beneficial for those haunted by vivid nightmares. Specifically in the case of those with post-traumatic stress disorder, marijuana has anecdotally proven to be highly effective in suppressing nightmares. After experiencing a traumatic event, it’s not uncommon to experience intense, vivid dreams related to the trauma. These nightmares can make it more difficult to fall back to sleep and have negative consequences the next day.
While some people may feel a little fuzzy the morning after smoking marijuana, in others this dreamless sleep might be preferable. Regardless, if you’ve been smoking/vaping/eating marijuana for quite a while, you may have noticed a decrease in dreaming. Turns out, it’s not just you. The herb really does influence our dreaming sleep.
This post was originally published at this location