Some people who smoke cannabis before bed often struggle to recall their dreams the next morning. But there’s a simple reason why marijuana users tend to have less dreams.
This phenomenon can be explained by how marijuana affects the sleep cycle, specifically a stage known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Cannabis and REM Sleep Activity
The brain is most active during REM sleep and most dreaming is thought to occur during this stage. Numerous studies have shown that using marijuana before bed reduces REM sleep.
During the night, the brain cycles through 4 different stages of sleep, spending the most time in deep sleep (or slow-wave sleep) and REM sleep. The amount of time spent in these two stages is closely related. In fact, studies show that cannabis lengthens the time the brain spends in deep sleep, which leads to less REM sleep.
Deep Sleep Vs REM Sleep
It’s not clear whether the effect of marijuana on REM sleep is actually harmful. In fact, experts are still not sure why we need REM sleep.
On the other hand, deep sleep is believed to be the most important sleep stage for repairing and restoring the body. Likewise, studies show that when deprived of sleep, the brain prioritizes deep sleep over REM sleep.
While more research is needed, it’s possible that the ability of cannabis to increase deep sleep, even at the expense of REM sleep, might turn out to be a good thing. Getting into Lucid Dreaming can help produce vivid dreams even after smoking weed.
> Marijuana, REM Sleep, and Dreams | Leaf Science