Used correctly, some studies have found that cannabis reduces nightmares, both the frequency and intensity, and allows people to get a better night of sleep. A lot depends on the type of cannabis people use and the frequency of use.
Studies already have shown that cannabis impacts sleep patterns. Consumers have shown their believe in this with their wallet. During the COVID-19 crisis, more people than usual turned to using cannabis to get a good night’s sleep. For many, cannabis lowers coronavirus stress, allowing them to sleep better at night.
But nightmares are a completely different thing. For some, cannabis reduces nightmares that cause them to wake up frequently or experience “shallow sleep” during the night, such as those with PTSD.
Here’s a look at some of the main questions people have about cannabis reducing nightmares.
What Type of Cannabis Works Best With Sleep?
Most people choose indica strains of cannabis to promote sleep. Generally speaking, any product made from indica will likely have a more relaxing, soothing effect. Sativa is known more for energizing people. However, there are also hybrids available that can lead to deep relaxation. The best move is to ask the budtender at your dispensary for advice on what works best in your situation.
How Does THC Combat Nightmares?
According to studies reviewed by Psychology Today, THC works better than CBD when it comes to reducing nightmares. THC is the chemical ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling. Researchers have found that THC appears to alter the time spent in different stages of sleep.
For example, studies associate use of THC with reduced time spent in REM sleep and increased time spent in slow-wave sleep. During REM sleep, people dream. For those with PTSD and other conditions, this is also the time they experience nightmares. By reducing the amount of time spent in REM, cannabis reduces nightmares.
And during slow-wave sleep, people have deep, dreamless sleep that refreshes them. However, if people suddenly stop using cannabis, they may experience a burst of dreaming called “REM rebound,” according to Psychology Today.
Does CBD and Terpenes Also Help With Sleep?
While THC seems to have the most direct impact on nightmares, CBD also can promote healthy sleep. For example, a survey by Consumer Reports found that the majority of adults who used cannabis said they slept much better at night.
Experts told Consumer Reports that the ability of CBD to lessen pain and reduce anxiety likely plays a role in how it promotes better sleep at night.
Terpenes also may influence how cannabis impacts sleep. Terpenes are tiny, aromatic molecules in cannabis that create its smell and taste. According to Psychology Today, terpenes such as myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, terpineol and linalool have properties that reduce stress, anxiety and pain.
How Much Should You Use?
There’s no one answer to this because everyone is different. One rule of thumb is always that using too little is better than using too much. People usually decide this based on experimenting with different amounts.
It’s also important to consult with a physician before trying cannabis of CBD products for sleep. They can help you decide what amount, if any, will work best in your situation.
Also, it’s important to remember that all types of sleep (including REM) in some amount are needed to maintain optimum health, so it’s important to develop good sleep practices, such as going to bed at the same time, not eating or drinking foods that will keep you up, and creating an environment that is good for sleep.