What Science Says About CBD Dreams
A majority believe dreams help in sorting memories, information, and feelings. With the popularity of CBD products, people have continued to use them to enhance overall health and wellness. While we know that CBD is good for relaxation, easing muscle pain, and reducing anxiety—what does it do for dreams?
There are plenty of anecdotal claims surrounding CBD products and dreams, and you may wonder if CBD is right for you. The science of how CBD affects dreams is still new and evolving, but preliminary research shows that CBD has a positive impact on the non-REM stages of sleep.
Herein, we will discuss how CBD can impact your dreams and how to use CBD to enhance sleep quality.
Why Do People Dream?
There is no correct answer to why people experience dreams, but some believe dreams help process information and consolidate memories.
Other theories show that dreams act as internal therapists located in our subconscious levels and tend to aid navigation through emotional drama from our active life. Dreams may act as fight-or-flight simulator trainers that help us survive, explaining the physiological pressure and stress people encounter in bad dreams and nightmares.
No matter how bizarre or scary dreams may seem, studies on participants’ dream journals show that only 10% of one’s dream content accounts for distorted reality. Regardless of what makes us dream, dreams blend emotions and random stories. However, they are usually related to our lives preoccupations and thoughts.
What Impacts Dreams?
Our mental and emotional states impact what our dreams entail. Some may experience sweet dreams that you may not want to wake up. While one can experience nightmares that awaken you in the middle of the night. Dreams can have various impacts on individuals, both positive and negative. Here are some ways dreams can impact us:
- Emotional processing: Dreams can help us process and regulate our emotions. They may provide an outlet for unconscious feelings, fears, and desires.
- Memory consolidation: Dreams may also help consolidate memories and improve learning. During sleep, the brain can process and store information from the day before.
- Creativity and problem-solving: Dreams can inspire creative ideas and solutions to problems. They may allow us to explore different possibilities and perspectives.
- Sleep quality: Dreams can impact the quality of our sleep. Vivid or disturbing dreams can disrupt sleep and lead to feelings of tiredness or unrest.
- Psychological health: Dreams can also provide insights into our psychological health. Recurring or vivid nightmares may indicate underlying anxiety or trauma.
Dreams can impact our emotions, memories, creativity, sleep quality, and psychological health. However, the specific impact of dreams can vary greatly depending on the individual and the content of the dream
How Does CBD Effects Sleep?
CBD, or cannabidiol, has been shown to have various effects on sleep, including both positive and negative impacts. Here are some ways CBD may affect sleep:
- Promoting relaxation: CBD has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. This may help improve the onset of sleep by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Reducing nightmares: CBD may also help reduce the occurrence of nightmares, particularly for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other anxiety disorders.
- Improving sleep quality: CBD may help improve sleep quality by increasing the percentage of deep, non-REM sleep, which is important for physical restoration and mental consolidation.
- Reducing daytime sleepiness: CBD may help reduce daytime sleepiness by improving sleep quality and reducing the likelihood of disruptions or awakenings during the night.
However, some studies have also shown that CBD may have negative effects on sleep, such as increasing dream intensity and vividness. Additionally, it may interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. It’s also important to note that CBD should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment for sleep disorders.
Does CBD Cause Dreams?
There is some evidence that CBD may impact dreaming. While CBD has been shown to improve sleep quality in some studies, it may also impact the content of dreams.
A small study published in 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that CBD increased the percentage of participants’ deep sleep, but also increased the occurrence of vivid and sometimes disturbing dreams. Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2020 also found that CBD increased dream recall and intensity, particularly for participants who reported high levels of anxiety.
However, more research is needed to understand the relationship between CBD and dreaming, and how it may vary depending on the individual and the specific type and dose of CBD used. It’s also important to note that the effects of CBD on dreaming may not necessarily be negative, as vivid dreams can be a sign of increased emotional processing and mental activity during sleep.
While you might wake up remembering bits of your dreams in full color and detail, there’s no direct correlation with CBD causing sweet or bad dreams. Sleep hygiene, stress, and even certain medications can cause different contents of your dreams.
Since everyone’s health baseline varies from one individual to the other, CBD will affect you differently. To understand how CBD and sleep relate, we will have to look into the stages of sleep.
How CBD Impact The Sleep Stages
We will go through four distinct stages of sleep. They all coexist under two types: non-REM sleep and rapid eye movement (REM). CBD may have different effects on the five stages of sleep, which are:
Stage One: Light Sleep or Non-REM Sleep
Stage one is the lightest stage of sleep, characterized by slow eye movement and reduced muscle activity. This stage lasts only a few minutes, but it’s important to note that you can be woken easily while in this stage. If you’ve been jolted awake by a loud noise or had a dream and forgotten it almost immediately upon waking up, then you were probably in stage 1 of sleep when that happened.
CBD may help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety, which may make it easier to fall asleep and transition into the next stage.
CBD has its impact on the non-REM sleep cycle by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors and signaling molecules found throughout the body. The ECS plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including sleep, mood, and pain perception.
Studies have shown that CBD have a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. This may further contribute to its ability to improve non-REM sleep by reducing the likelihood of disruptions or awakenings during the night.
During this time, you may experience what is known as hypnic jerks — sudden muscle spasms that make your legs kick out when falling asleep or waking up. CBD has been shown to help people have a restful sleep cycle at these stages.
Stage Two: Non-REM Sleep
Stage two is the second stage of the sleep cycle and is considered a deeper stage of sleep than Stage One. During Stage two sleep, brain waves slow down even further, and the body relaxes even more. This stage of sleep typically makes up the largest portion of a healthy adult’s sleep cycle, accounting for about 50% of total sleep time.
During Stage two sleep, the brain produces sudden spikes of electrical activity known as sleep spindles and K-complexes. These are thought to play a role in memory consolidation and protection of sleep, by filtering out any external stimuli that could potentially disturb sleep.
Other characteristics of Stage two sleep include a decrease in heart rate and breathing rate, a drop in body temperature, and decreased muscle activity. The body is still able to respond to external stimuli, such as sounds or movements, but it becomes increasingly difficult to wake up.
Overall, Stage two sleep is an important part of the sleep cycle, playing a role in memory consolidation, brain plasticity, and restoration of the body. CBD may help improve the quality of Stage two sleep by reducing disruptions or awakenings during the night.
Stage Three: Slow-wave Sleep
Stage three, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), is the third stage of the sleep cycle and is characterized by very slow brain waves known as delta waves. During this stage, the body is in a deep state of relaxation, and it can be difficult to wake up.
SWS is an important stage of sleep as it allows the body to repair and regenerate tissues, strengthen the immune system, and consolidate memories. Growth hormone is also released during this stage, which is important for growth and development in children.
Typically, SWS makes up about 20% of an adult’s sleep cycle, although this percentage decreases with age. It is most commonly observed in the first half of the night, with longer periods of SWS occurring earlier in the night and shorter periods occurring later.
Some characteristics of SWS include a decrease in heart rate and breathing rate, lowered blood pressure, and relaxed muscles. Sleepwalking and night terrors may also occur during SWS, particularly in children.
SWS is an important stage of the sleep cycle, allowing the body to rest, recover, and consolidate memories. Disruptions to SWS, such as sleep deprivation or sleep disorders, can have negative effects on physical and cognitive functioning. CBD may increase the percentage of SWS by reducing the amount of time spent in lighter stages of sleep.
Stage Four: REM (rapid eye movement) Sleep
REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, which is a stage of sleep characterized by fast and random eye movements, increased brain activity, and vivid dreaming. During REM sleep, the body becomes immobile, with the exception of some minor muscle twitches, as the brain sends signals to inhibit muscle activity. This stage typically occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs every 90 minutes or so throughout the night, with each REM period lasting longer than the previous one.
REM sleep is an important part of the sleep cycle, as it plays a crucial role in various physiological and cognitive processes. It is believed to be essential for memory consolidation, learning, and emotional regulation. REM sleep is also associated with increased activity in certain brain regions, including those involved in creative thinking and problem-solving.
Disruptions to REM sleep can have negative impacts on both physical and mental health. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy can lead to fragmented or reduced REM sleep, which may contribute to daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, and mood disturbances.
CBD’s potential to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation may indirectly improve the quality of REM sleep. Anxiety and stress can interfere with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, including the ability to enter and maintain REM sleep. By reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, CBD may help individuals get more restful and restorative sleep, including during the REM sleep cycle.
CBD Oil for Sleep
People continue to use CBD to support sleep. There is some evidence to suggest that CBD (cannabidiol) may have a beneficial effect on sleep, particularly in improving sleep quality and reducing symptoms of insomnia. CBD may have a calming and relaxing effect on the body and mind, which can help individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
If you are considering taking CBD oil to improve your sleep, speaking with your healthcare provider is essential. They can help you determine if CBD is safe for you and what dosage and timing may be most effective for your needs.
It’s also important to choose a high-quality CBD oil from a reputable manufacturer, as the quality and purity of CBD products can vary widely. Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend a trusted brand or help you find a product that meets your needs.
Related article: CBD and Insomnia
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