For thousands of years, some cultures have known that cannabis can affect sleep. In traditional Chinese medicine, for instance, believed that a combination of the cannabis flower with datura – another herb – could act as a sleep aid for people who struggle with nightmares.
In recent years, western sleep scientists have begun to catch up and many want to know whether the ancient stories are true and whether cannabis really does have an effect on how much shut-eye we get.
Their investigations, however, have revealed a somewhat more complex picture of cannabis and dreaming than people expected. It turns out that the herb has multiple effects – some dragging your sleep cycle in one direction and some in another.
So what does science say?
Whole Cannabis May Reduce REM Sleep
Sleep scientists discovered several decades ago that sleep wasn’t just a single, homogenous state. Instead, people seem to go through several different stages of sleep, each of which serves a particular function.
Stage 1: the start of the sleep cycle that usually only lasts a few minutes. Here, the person is semi-conscious and not dreaming. They’re falling asleep, but they’re not in a deep slumber.
Stage 2: is a deeper form of sleep where the person’s temperature and heart rate drop. It accounts for roughly half the time that a person is in bed, making it the longest of any.
Stage 3: is the deepest phase of sleep. In this stage, the body carries out essential maintenance tasks, like tissue repair.
Stage 4: is sometimes called REM or rapid eye movement sleep because of the tendency for the eyes to move around violently. People spend about two hours in this state per night – and it’s when they do most of their dreaming.
Researchers now think that cannabis may affect the fourth stage of sleep and affect dreaming. The current research suggests that the psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC, may actually reduce the amount of time that people spend in REM sleep. In other words, using a cannabis nightcap may cut out dreaming entirely. People who buy cannabis from our Las Vegas dispensary, the best cannabis dispensary in the area, may experience a different kind of sleep.
Other studies have reached a similar conclusion. A 2019 paper found that people who use cannabis experience significantly less REM than their non-using counterparts.
Interestingly, alternating through periods of using cannabis and not can have a profound effect. People often find that their dreams disappear from memory when using cannabis. But when they stop, they suddenly experience them more vividly, especially in the hours before waking.
What About CBD?
Those interested in the medicinal properties of cannabis know that there is a big difference between the two most important compounds in cannabis: CBD and THC.
If you guessed that they might exert opposite effects on REM sleep, then you’d be right. Unlike THC (and the whole cannabis plant), CBD appears to increase the length of stage 4, providing you with more time to dream.
A study published in 2017 found that people who administered high doses of CBD the night before experienced a more extended period in the dream state. They also discovered that those who consumed less went into REM sleep later and came out earlier.
With so many CBD products available from the best Vegas dispensary, people have been tracking its effects on their sleep cycles. Many people who use CBD find that it makes their dreams more intense and vivid. They also discover that it makes them easier to recall.
Researchers are keen to test the effects of CBD and cannabis on people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. A lot of people with PTSD can find themselves experiencing uncomfortable, lucid dreams that cause them to wake up in the middle of the night suddenly.
There’s evidence, however, that CBD might be a viable treatment for those with this condition. Patients who have nightmares often find that moderate doses of CBD suppress REM sleep and make it less likely that they will occur. It may work by reducing episodes of anxiety.
Differences Between Strains
Different cannabis strains appear to exert different effects on sleep. Over the years, sativas have gained a reputation for helping people feel alert and energized, while indica varieties make users feel more relaxed and subdued.
What really counts here, however, isn’t the variety, but the ratio of CBD to THC. Plants with a high level of THC and relatively low CBD will encourage the suppression of REM sleep which reduces the amount of time that you spend dreaming. In contrast, those with high CBD and low THC will do the opposite.
Thus, people who use cannabis should keep a close eye on the content of the products that they use. The effect may not be the same.
Pairing Cannabis With Other Herbs
The Chinese knew that if you wanted a sleep aid, it was a good idea to combine the cannabis plant with other herbs. Their favorite was datura, but it turns out that you have a menu of options.
Research reveals that specific terpenes, chemicals in plants, work synergistically with those in cannabis. So, when you mix them into a remedy, their combined effect is greater than the sum of the parts.
Many plants contain high levels of terpenes believed to assist cannabis in the body. These include the sort of ingredients that you find in traditional bed-time teas, such as chamomile, lavender, and hops. When you add these chemicals, they increase the likelihood of sedation effects.
Thus, in summary, there’s no simple story about how cannabis affects dreaming. It very much depends on what product you choose and how you use it. The best policy is to try a product and then see how it affects your sleep compared to others.
Are you wondering where to buy cannabis in Las Vegas? It’s easy. With Inyo’s cannabis delivery service, you can order the items you need direct to your door without having to travel out to a dispensary. Or select our pickup service if you’re in a hurry. Here’s to better sleep!