Why When You Stop Smoking Weed, Dreams Come Back? - HØJ

Why When You Stop Smoking Marijuana, Dreams Come Back At Their Fullest?

Estimated 3-minute read

No matter what the reason was, we have all sometimes quit smoking for a while. Perhaps to have a tolerance break, to pass an anti-doping test, or for health reasons in general. If you have, you have probably experienced severe positive effects. Feeling more energetic and an improvement in your cognitive abilities.  

The first time I quit smoking, besides the effects I already mentioned, I experienced constant dreams, some of which were quite lucid. It seemed that every day I dreamed, and there are those who say that it happens, but we are only able to remember very little. I noticed that those times when I smoked marijuana more often, I never remembered any of my dreams or not dreamed at all. Why does this happen? 

Dr. Hans Hamburger, neurologist and somnologist, is head of Holland Sleep Research, a Dutch research center specializing in sleep disorders. According to Hamburger, the resurgence of dreams is common among former smokers, since marijuana suppresses the Rem phase of sleep. What is the REM phase?  It is one of the sleep stages. Sleep stages are divided like this: The human body cycles through two phases of sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is further divided into three stages which make up 75% of the dreaming time.  

  • N1: The stage of lightest sleep, when you are between asleep and awake 
  • N2: When you fall into a deep sleep and lose awareness of your surroundings 
  • N3: The stage of deep and restful sleep that is considered the most important for your health. During this stage, brain activity experiences slow waves, and you hardly wake up.  

Rem dreaming: This stage of sleep is characterized by high brain activity, and this is when dreams appear. It lasts about 10 minutes and usually occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep and every 90 minutes thereafter. The eye move, but the body is still relaxed. During the REM period is when most of your dreams occur. In general, you do not remember your dreams if you continue to sleep. The last REM period, which occurs just before waking up, is the longest, and you will only be able to remember the dreams you had in that period if you wake up in the middle of your dream. If you don’t wake up during REM, you won't be able to remember anything.  

According to Dr. Hamburger, this phase is suppressed by marijuana. When you put away the rolling papers and stop using weed you unleash the REM phase you had before you became a stoner with a shallow sleep.  

Dreams help you to order the great number of images and impressions you receive on a daily basis. When you smoke marijuana with regularity, that function is also suppressed. Dr. Hamburger confirms: “By smoking marijuana you suppress REM sleep, as well as quite a few of the important functions of REM sleep. One of them is relieving the things you experienced and fully accepting them as they happened. Processing all kinds of psychological influences is something that happens during REM sleep. Also, you can anticipate things that will happen the next day or a few days later. While you are sleeping, you are already considering those things and making decisions in advance.  

The less chance you give your brain to sort all these things during your REM sleep, the more disoriented and confused you will be throughout the day. But why are your dreams so wild and realistic when you quit smoking? 

If you have been using a drug that suppresses a certain phenomenon for a while, then you stop using the drug, the phenomenon will return much more strongly. That’s what we call “the rebound effect”.  In other words, your body goes into an accelerated sleep mode and that's why your dreams are so intense. The body recovers itself from the rebound effect over time. It's A temporary attempt to catch up on everything you missed while smoking marijuana. It usually goes away after two or three weeks. Your body will know when it's up to speed and ready to back normal.  


Author: Pipo


Summer, J. (2021, December 16). REM sleep: What it is and why it matters. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/stages-of-sleep/rem-sleep

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