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Cannabis and Dreams – Effects of Smoking Cannabis on Sleep & Dreams



For most cannabis users, smoking weed allows them to fall asleep fast; Often unable to remember their dreams. So, does smoking cannabis affect your ability to dream?

Think about it… if you are a regular smoker, can you recall any of your recent dreams? Maybe a few dreams on occasion, but not likely very many.

Have you ever taken a break from your cannabis intake, and had the craziest, most vivid dreams? Perhaps cannabis inhibits our ability to sink into the 4th stage of sleep. Let’s take a closer look at this theory about cannabis affecting dreams.

The Art of Dreaming

To better understand how cannabis affects our ability to dream, we must first understand the art of dreaming. In order to be able to dream, there are 4 stages we go through in our sleep cycle. These 4 stages go from light sleep (1) to heavy REM cycle sleep (4). It is in the REM cycle that we are able to dream. Here is a diagram to break it down:

4 stages of sleep
Photo by: Verywell Health

Dreams are Crucial for our Well-being!

As you can see, it is in the 4th stage when our brains become activated, and our eyes move rapidly. Experts say this stage is essential to our overall well-being. This stage is where humans are able to sort through and process all of their emotions in a highly creative process a.k.a. DREAMING.

“Dreaming is not just a funny thing that happens while we’re sleeping, but is a vital part of the restorative process and the memory and learning apparatus,”

– Dr. Jordan Tishler, President and CEO of the Association of Cannabis Specialists and an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Without slipping into the REM cycle, your brain is deprived of this vital resolution process. And, over time your brain will start to fall into an impaired state.

Dreams and REM Cycle
Photo by: Ashkan Fourouzani

“Deprivation of REM, in particular, can lead to cognitive dysfunction and mood alterations.” 

– Dr. Jordan Tishler

Cannabis + Sleep = No Dreams?

Well, not exactly. While there is no concrete evidence to prove this theory, it is known that smoking cannabis hinders the brain’s ability to sink into the REM cycle, and therefore dream. Cannabis can most certainly decrease, or in some instances suppress REM sleep altogether.

“Cannabis consumption, and specifically the consumption of THC, shortens REM sleep, eliminating most people’s ability to dream due to insufficient time in this phase”

– Kebra Smith-Bolden, registered nurse and CEO of CannaHealth

Click here to check out a study done by the Swansea University in 2019.

All About Balance

Like everything in life, there must be a balance. For those who use cannabis to fall asleep, we are not suggesting that you need to stop. Or that if you keep smoking weed you will never dream again.

It depends on the amount of weed you are smoking before bed, and how often. If you are only using a small dose now and then, there is likely little REM suppression. It is more so the higher doses of THC, and consumption on a regular basis that is problematic in regards to REM suppression.

The bottom line is that your brain may need a break now and then…

The Rebound

Smoking Cannabis affect ability to dream
Photo by: Bruce Mars

In order to restore your ability to dream, it is recommended to take breaks from cannabis now and then. This break from cannabis can be a few days, a week, whatever suits you best. By temporarily refraining from your weed intake, your REM patterns are able to rebound and your dream pattern will improve.

“Rebound is characterized by the return of vivid and unusual dreams as your mind becomes reacquainted with the REM stage of sleeping,”

– Smith Bolden

Have you ever taken a break from cannabis? Have you noticed any changes to your dreams? Let us know in the comments below and follow @cannalifenet for more related content.


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