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CBD and Dreaming

Posted by Austin Angeleri on

Many people using cannabis products, either recreationally or medicinally, know that marijuana has various effects on different stages of sleep. Over the years THC has built up a cliché reputation of making people sleepy. However, studies show that while THC and CBD really do encourage a longer and restful sleep, even in the more severely sleep deprived, (2013) in many of these cases dreaming seems to happen less frequently if at all. The way in which CBD and THC effect the other aspects of sleep relate to how they affect dreaming.

The sleep cycle has several stages, but probably the most well-known stages are deep sleep (or slow-wave sleep) and REM sleep. The brain is said to be the most active in REM sleep, which is also why it is suspected that the most amount of dreaming occurs during this stage. While REM sleep is important to achieve in the effort to fully complete the entirety of the sleep cycle, compared to slow-wave sleep it usually doesn’t receive as much attention. Deep sleep is considered “the most important stage [in the sleep cycle] for repairing and restoring the body.” (LeafScience, 2014) This is why when people are sleep deprived, “the brain seems to prioritize slow-wave sleep over REM sleep” (LeafScience, 2014) to take care of all the body’s maintenance while at rest.

CBD and THC have been researched, and proven to decrease the frequency of rapid eye movement by increasing the duration of slow-wave sleep. This is why it is often being prescribed for the sleep deprived, because the body needs to be in slow-wave sleep longer in order to fully repair. However, because CBD and THC encourage more time in slow-wave sleep, the sleeper subsequently spends less time in REM sleep, thus less time with open ability to dream. Because you don’t want as many psychoactive effects in the process of going to sleep, higher percentages of CBD with little to no amount of THC would be beneficial.

In many cases of nightmares or night terrors the lack of time spent in REM sleep is extremely beneficial. One large benefit cannabis users experience is a much easier time falling asleep, however Active CBD oils also benefit the falling asleep process, while absent of and even counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC on the sleeper, leaving more time in slow-wave sleep. There are still dream possibilities when in slow-wave sleep, but the decrease in dreaming and recalling of dreams is due to the decreased amount of time spent in REM sleep that is caused by CBD and THC.

There has also been an observable “rebound effect” when regular cannabis users stop using cannabis before bed, resulting in a significant increase in REM sleep and highly vivid dreaming. So even though CBD and THC can cause you to spend more time in slow-wave sleep and less time in REM sleep, there is a result of an increase of REM sleep and subsequently dream recollection when CBD and THC stop being used. This rebound effect is essentially the brain’s way of compensating for the amount of time spent outside of REM. A similar effect was discussed above with sleep-deprived patients spending too much time out of slow-wave sleep, the brain compensates and reprioritizes the sleep cycle. This “rebound effect” is not unique to cannabis, but occurs with many other substances that interfere with regular sleep patterns.  

Do you have a question or comment about CBD? Let us know, and we will respond right away. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletters and visit our website regularly for the latest updates on research, legislation, and other news impacting you and cannabidiol.


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