Does your cannabis consumption affect your dreams?


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Miles Buchan, Staff Reporter

A well-established question asked in the cannabis community is this: Does weed affect my dreams, and if so, how?

With research spanning over 50 years beginning in the 1970s with the war on drugs lasting the majority of it, this field of knowledge is underdeveloped and often inconclusive. That being said, there are some answers.


Cannabis is a complex flower, with more than 100 active cannabinoids that affect our bodies and minds. The two that have been the primary focus of researchers are THC and CBD, both of which do affect sleep, and therefore dreams, but in different ways.

THC is the compound mostly responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis. Unlike other areas of this research that have mixed findings, it has been consistently found that THC decreases total rapid eye movement sleep and REM density.

REM sleep is where 80% of people dream, and these dreams tend to be more explained through a story plot. The other 20% of people dream in the nonrapid eye movement stages of deep sleep, and these dreams tend to be more ambiguous.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that if you are consuming enough THC to diminish your REM sleep, then you would have less vivid and thus less memorable dreams.

However, it has been found in some studies that the acute use of THC decreases sleep latency and has been associated with ease in getting to sleep. CBD is similar to THC in that it has been shown to have different effects based on dosage. Smaller amounts of CBD have been shown to have a stimulating effect, while high doses have a sedative effect.

It was also found that these cannabinoids offer potential therapeutic effects with high-dose CBD and low-dose THC, which may be the key when it comes to how cannabis affects your sleep.

The ratio of cannabinoids in a product or strain, as well as the potency or levels of each compound comprising the dose, is a key factor in the outcome of your experience, consciously and subconsciously. These effects are also influenced by timing, route of consumption and overall dosage.

The last thing to consider about how cannabis may impact your sleep and dreams is frequency of use and how long your consumption history dates back. Acute cannabis use has been known to cause highly variable and contradicting experiences that can be observed based on the individual and conditions. Among these effects, acute partaking of cannabis appears to facilitate falling asleep faster and increased deep sleep.

This changes, though, when someone uses cannabis more consistently. Over time, chronic users build a tolerance to the sleep inducing and slow wave sleep enhancement associated with acute use.

There are mixed findings when it comes to cannabis and dreams, but chronic cannabis use has been associated with negative subjective effects on sleep that are manifested particularly during cannabis withdrawal. Sleep disturbances and vivid dreams are two symptoms that are clinically considered concrete traits of cannabis withdrawal, which is said to last up to 45 days after stopping cannabis consumption.

This established effect on dreams that occurs after a chronic cannabis user stops might have perpetuated the idea that weed might affect or stunt dreams, despite the lack of scientific support.

Reach Miles Buchan at or on Twitter @buchanmiles.