Ask Cheri

Does Cannabis Use Interfere with Dreams? 

By Cheri Sicard
September 16, 2020

Dear Cheri,

After a long absence, I started regularly using cannabis again about 8 months ago.  Generally speaking, I feel great but one thing I have noticed is that, even though I have been sleeping great, I hardly have any dreams anymore, and I used to have lots of vivid dreams. Could my cannabis use be the reason for my lack of dreams?

You are not dreaming about not dreaming.  Diminished or even nonexistent dreams are a real side effect of cannabis use.  At least not dreams you remember having.  The heavier your use, the less likely you will recall dreaming.

We go through 4 stages when going to sleep, a light sleep, followed by a deeper sleep, a very deep sleep, and then REM sleep.  REM stands for rapid eye movement and this is the stage of sleep where dreams occur.  Most people spend roughly 2 hours, give or take, per night in this stage of sleep.

This presents cannabis users with a conundrum.  Marijuana, for many people, is a safe, effective, all-natural sleep-aid.  However, if cannabis interferes with REM sleep is the quality of that sleep good?

Scientists are divided about cannabis and its effects on sleep.  To be sure REM sleep deprivation is not healthy and some studies have shown THC to reduce REM sleep.  However, it is important to note that these findings have not been consistently reproduced, and these are small and preliminary studies, so this theory is far from conclusive.

One 2019 study, found that cannabis users experienced reduced REM sleep, and that the few dreams that were recalled were more bizarre and had heightened sensory and emotional experiences attached to them than those of their abstaining counterparts.  However it is important to note that this was an extremely small study based on the responses of only 19 subjects.

So the bottom line is, lack of dreaming seems to be a real side effect of THC use, but we are at the dawn of the research into figuring out why or what the implications of this might be.

woman sleeping, marijuana leaf, text: does marijuana use interfere with dreaming

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