Having trouble sleeping? Are nightmares causing problems? Well, take a few tokes and call the dispensary in the morning, because researchers are looking into medical cannabis as a cure for nightmares.
For regular marijuana smokers, having dreams, let alone nightmares, is all but nonexistent. But, if those same smokers quit for a week or two, suddenly the dreams would be back. In the life of the pot smoker, this is a fact, although there is not much scientific research to prove this actually happens. This ability to erase dreams has interested scientists working with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients, and now there is evidence to suggest that medicinal cannabis can have a positive effect on those who suffer from chronic nightmares.
Cannabis happens to be a plant that is very complex and different strains have different psychoactive traits, depending on the chemical characteristics of each plant. The ingredient in the plant that gives users those desirable feelings of being high is called cannabinoids, which affect the central nervous system of the smoker.
The main cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydocannabinol). THC is the magic in marijuana. Smaller doses can relax a person, acting as a sedative, while larger doses may cause anxiety in the form of paranoia. The largest doses, especially from strains of plants with high concentrations of THC, can increase the psychedelic experience of the user. Regardless of how it influences users, it is its ability to disturb the dream-making REM sleep that scientists are most interested in. This disturbance is the reason most pot smokers say they do not have dreams.
Every night humans experience different cycles of sleep, which are repeated during the night, becoming sounder and deeper. In studies, researchers have found that if a person is awakened during the deepest stage, the Rapid Eye Movement level or REM, they are able to relay graphic details of their dreams or nightmares. For one of the largest populations of people suffering from nightmares today, those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, by interrupting the REM stage of sleep when nightmares occur, medical cannabis can “cure” them of having to relive terrifying experiences through their nightmares. Scientists found that 73% of PTSD patients in a clinical trial who were given the synthetic cannabinoid, Nabilone, either ceased having nightmares or had a significant reduction in the intensity of the nightmare.
But, those with PTSD are not the only ones having trouble. It is estimated that up to eight percent of adults in America suffer from recurring nightmares. Nightmares are different than dreams because during a nightmare the dreamer has a high-level of anxiety, feeling threatened in a very real sense. They believe, while in the dream state, that they are going to be harmed or killed. Like those with PTSD, the disruptive REM properties in the medical cannabis work the same for both.
Many people who suffer from insomnia report having nightmares caused by the narcotic based sleep-inducing medicine they take. Since marijuana has a natural calming effect and can relax the user, some users report that it makes it easier for them to fall asleep and that sleep is not interrupted by nightmares. No matter what the cause of nightmares, for those who suffer from them night after night, going to bed is not something they look forward to. To help them get a good night’s sleep, medical cannabis may be the cure for nightmares they are looking for.
By: Lisa Nance