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Does CBD Affect REM Sleep?

By November 9, 2021 No Comments
Does CBD Affect REM Sleep?

If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, CBD may be able to help.

In our previous article, “Best Help for Insomnia: CBD Alone or CBD + Melatonin,” we showed you how CBD’s potential calming, anti-anxiety effects may help people get to sleep faster while improving their overall sleep quality.

Other studies have shown that CBD may hold promise for sleep disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness.

In this post, we take another look at CBD and sleep—specifically, how CBD may affect REM sleep, where dreams usually take place.

What is REM Sleep?

When we sleep, we go through several different “sleep stages.” We can lump them into two main categories:

1. REM Sleep

REM stands for “rapid eye movement.” During this stage of sleep, your eyes move rapidly back and forth under the lids. This stage starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and is when most of your dreams take place. The muscles become paralyzed, and the brain increases its activity.

This stage is important because it helps the brain consolidate and process new information, then shuttle the important information into your long-term memory. It’s also important to your overall health.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, when animal subjects were deprived of their REM sleep, it significantly shortened their lifespan. Scientists believe that it’s during this stage that the brain forms connections that are key to mental and overall health.

2. Non-REM Sleep

This is the category for all sleep that is not REM sleep. It includes three sub-stages:

  1. Stage 1: This stage lasts about 5-10 minutes and occurs as you’re falling asleep.
  2. Stage 2: This is a period of light sleep where the brain waves slow down and the body prepares to enter deep sleep.
  3. Stage 3: This is the “deep sleep” stage when you have no muscle or eye movement and your brain produces only very slow waves. If you are woken up during this stage, you’ll feel groggy and disoriented.

CBD May Help Improve REM Sleep Disorders

CBD May Help Improve REM Sleep

Some people have trouble with the REM sleep stage. Those with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, can sometimes suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), where they make aggressive movements and sometimes shout out during the REM stage.

This is unusual because, during normal REM sleep, the muscles are paralyzed so you can’t act out your dreams. Those suffering from RBD may also suffer from sleepwalking or other involuntary movements that could increase the risk of injury.

In an interesting study, researchers gave 33 patients with Parkinson’s disease and RBD 75 – 300 mg of CBD or a placebo for fourteen weeks. The results showed that between the 4th and 8th week, those taking 300 mg of CBD experienced a significant improvement in average sleep satisfaction.

An earlier study showed similar results—patients with RBD who were treated with CBD experienced a substantial reduction in symptoms without side effects. The researchers concluded that “CBD is able to control the symptoms of RBD.”

It seems veterans with PTSD are more at risk for RBD, so scientists have also looked at how CBD may help patients experiencing REM sleep abnormalities caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They haven’t completed many studies on this yet, but in one animal study, they did find that CBD could help tame anxiety and block REM sleep disorders caused by anxiety.

Does CBD Affect Your Dreams?

Some people have reported experiencing more vivid dreams when taking CBD. These may be positive dreams, bad dreams, or even nightmares. Many also report being better able to recall those dreams.

Since we dream during REM sleep, this makes you wonder if CBD is somehow affecting REM sleep in a way that affects our dreams.

So far, we don’t have any research on this so we just don’t know. There is no evidence linking the use of CBD to bad dreams or any other type of dreams. In fact, in a 2018 study, researchers concluded that CBD did not interfere with the sleep cycle of healthy volunteers.

If you’d like to try CBD for better sleep, odds are that it won’t harm your sleep cycle. If you do notice a change in your dreams, make sure that your CBD product is of high quality and doesn’t contain other chemicals or components that could be affecting your sleep.

Then check your dosage. Adjusting that may help if you are experiencing unwanted effects on your dreams.