Cannabis popularity has been increasing drastically and people are starting to use it not only as an alternative treatment for some disease but also to regulate their sleeping cycle. Still, a new research points out that even if small doses of cannabis could improve our sleeping schedule, higher doses could deteriorate it even more and provoke mood swings and cognitive dysfunction.
Cannabis has revolutionized our lives, and scientists are constantly looking for new properties that could benefit mankind. Researchers are conducting new studies every day in order to find out the benefits that cannabis can offer. However, it is very important that this information is taken critically and that it is considered that not so much is known about the plant yet and that, even though the use of cannabis has benefits, it can also have some negative effects on the human body.
Such is the case with cannabis and sleep. In Dr. Matt Roman’s analysis, he stated that cannabis helps improve sleep because it “restores the natural sleep cycle, which is out of sync with our current schedules.”
On the other hand, studies from the National Institutes of Health in the United States pointed out that the THC compound in cannabis is responsible for inducing sleep, and that it can help reduce the REM sleep, which can help reduce nightmares in people who suffer from them.
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More research needed in order to know the true benefits and consequences of cannabis
However, what these studies do not mention is that cannabis could be affecting the sleep process in regular users, having counterproductive effects, such as a strong feeling of tiredness despite having slept several hours.
REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movement during sleep, being one of the important phases of the process, representing 25% of the sleep cycle, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. Through REM sleep, the brain and body are energized and enter the process of sleep. With cannabis, the “benefit” of interrupted dreams is highlighted, but what happens without that process?
Furthermore, Dr. Jordan Tishler explains that mood swings and cognitive dysfunction are a consequence of REM deprivation. A 2016 study revealed that 72-hour REM deprivation in mice causes spatial memory impairment, so people may become confused upon awakening.
Tishler said there aren’t enough studies yet to determine whether cannabis’s deprivation of REM can be harmful to people, causing them to get less rest or have other kinds of psychological problems.
Cannabis should be consumed in small doses and if needed increase it over time
One of the effects that regular cannabis users have when they quit is usually more vivid and impactful dreams, as they recover from REM sleep and try to repay “the debt they have accumulated,” which can affect those with negative conditions linked to nightmares or vivid dreams.
The doctor said that the relationship between cannabis and sleep is complicated because REM deprivation is negative but so is insomnia, but that in reality, it all depends on the dose. Also, it must be taken into account that it is possible to achieve a better quality of sleep by ingesting small doses of cannabis, instead of higher doses which are problematic, and in theory, this would not suppress the REM cycle.
“Small doses of cannabis can lead to a better quality of sleep without apparent suppression of REM while higher doses are much more problematic.”
Therefore, if you are one of those who want to sleep better, you should consume small doses of cannabis and increase it until you achieve an ideal sleep cycle, and not increase the doses any further so as not to affect REM.
More studies are needed to determine how negative REM deprivation is with cannabis. In the meantime, experts recommend using strains that have higher levels of CBD than THC, as CBD can help improve the REM process.
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First published in GQ, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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