Explanation of the sometimes disturbing intensity of dreams after stopping or taking a break from cannabis
You would think that smoking weed would encourage the wildest dreams, but it's quite the opposite. When you quit smoking, your dreams may come back with vengeance ... The stoner on rare occasions, without going to bed high, sees super intense dreams, heavily using all available mental imagery ... The brain does not lack pretty pictures, but consuming cannabis changes the address where the images come from. Sleep scientists explain how a cannabis “high” is a dream “killer”.
Paradoxical sleep (REM)
According to Dr. Elliot Lee of the Royal Sleep Disorders Clinic in Ottawa, sleep is divided into different stages, sides into 2 basic categories. Sleep has rapid eye movement (REM) which can be described as REM sleep, and the non-REM category. Non-REM sleep (NREM) is expressed in 3 ways:
- a) N1 sleep is when you doze off just a little, a transition from awake to asleep
- b) N3 sleep called slow wave sleep (SWS), which is the most physically and mentally restorative
- c) N2 sleep which occurs when during a transition from N1 sleep to N3 sleep
A "night" includes 3 to 6 successive cycles each lasting 90 to 120 minutes.
The sleep cycles
In a normal person, the duration of REM sleep takes about 25% of the duration of a night, and increases with each cycle until awakening. REM sleep follows slow sleep (“slow wave sleep” N3), and is the fifth and final stage of a sleep cycle. It is characterized by rapid eye movements, hence the English name for this stage of REM sleep for "rapid eye movement", muscle sluggishness, irregular breathing and heartbeat, unregulated body temperature. It is during this phase that the dreams that are remembered occur.
But we can dream during the sleep of NREM (non-REM). It is just less likely, and we are less likely to remember it. 80% of dreams occur in REM sleep, and they are also the most bizarre. Unlike NREM dreams are typically the subject of our daily substance, more discreet and less intense ...
"REM dreams are more emotional, more colorful" says Lee
Cannabis "killer" of "paradoxical" dreams
Cannabis is an extremely effective tool for combating insomnia, for falling asleep and staying asleep. The studies prove that marijuana simply suppresses Paradoxical sleep (REM)… Dreams are matched to your daily life by the thousands of impressions and images you encounter daily. When you smoke weed regularly, this function is also suppressed.
REM sleep (Paradoxical) plays an important role in emotional memory processing ; if something traumatic happens to you, it fits into different types of memory in your brain: declarative memory and emotional memory:
- Declarative memory relates to the specific details of what happened, where and how (and sometimes why).
- Rather, emotional memory relates to what it sounds like, to what it feels like to experience a situation.
In the case of a trauma, the emotional memories are scrambled and the declarative memory takes over, we remember details but without feelings… Dreams therefore make it possible to separate emotions and events.
Cannabis reduces paradoxical sleep latency, or even cancels it; and when you stop cannabis for a while, REM sleep suddenly gets the reins of your dreams, and to excess sometimes ...
If you are worried about running out of "colored" dreams, know that there is a rebound in the REM sleep period, finally if we stop taking marijuana ... If a person is deprived of the paradoxical sleep phase (due to a cannabis high therefore…), the following night the person catches up with the sleep that he missed. And if we have no REM period, the dream will be primarily placed in the NREM phase, but the next sober night (therefore delayed) is likely to be very strange ...
The rebound of REM can occur after an alcoholic night, the effect of alcohol shortens sleep latency and also suppresses REM sleep but only for the first part of the night. After the alcohol passes through your system the rem rebound occurs and this leads to some kind of crazy dreams. The problem according to Dr. Lee is that when people chronically use alcohol to start sleeping, they therefore suppress both stages of sleep… “it's kind of tricky” ^^
This rebound effect is also noticeable in people who take a lot of sleeping pills. If they stop taking it, they often get very strange and intense dreams. This is also the reason why the person becomes dependent on this kind of pill.
The dream that sprints
Cannabis suppresses dreams related to paradoxical sleep, the REM rebound is created immediately, not to say suddenly when you stop taking it; and indeed if we have spent a long time smoking cannabis, whether for medical or recreational reasons, the REM rebound may be powerful and surprising, even tiring ...
In other words, as soon as you stop (or discontinue) cannabis, your body receives the signal to start a Sprint. And that is why your dreams are so intense. The body recovers automatically over time, the REM rebound is a temporary attempt to make up for all those lost "dreams" when you were smoking weed ... Usually everything is back to normal after two to three weeks, once the dreams are caught.