Nightmares and Bad Dreams from CBD Oil? Here Are the Facts…
There is no academic or clinical evidence suggesting that CBD oil – or any CBD product – causes nightmares or bad dreams. With that being said, if you go online and search some forums on the topic, it’s quite easy to find plenty of anecdotal reports that claim the opposite.
In this article, we discuss whether or not the CBD oil (or any other CBD product) you’re taking may be resulting in weird dreams while you’re asleep.
The Myth of “Non-Psychoactive” CBD Oil
Before we talk about CBD oil, nightmares, bad dreams, and so on, let’s discuss the myth of CBD oil being non-psychoactive.
From a medical perspective, the word ‘psychoactive’ is quite broad in its scope; it essentially refers to any substance (prescription drugs or otherwise) that alters the function of the brain.
We know through research that CBD impacts things like stress, anxiety, PTSD, and so on, so in this sense, it is a psychoactive compound.
The confusion lies in the fact that CBD does not produce a high. Many resources (including some that are quite reputable) refer to CBD as a non-psychoactive compound since it does not produce the psychedelic effects of a high. The proper verbiage to use, however, is non-intoxicating.
This doesn’t have much to do with CBD causing nightmares or bad dreams, but we figured now was a good time to point out this relevant bit of information.
CBD & Nightmares/Bad Dreams: Is There Any Evidence?
Again, we reiterate the fact that there is no evidence linking the use of CBD to bad dreams – or any erratic dreaming episodes, for that matter. In fact, several research studies point to the fact that CBD may be beneficial in terms of achieving healthy, quality sleep.
One randomized study, for instance, concluded with a report suggesting that CBD “…[does] not alter normal sleep architecture.” The placebo-controlled, double-blind study – which was designed to gauge the effects of a 300mg CBD dose on sleep-wake cycles in human test subjects – concluded that CBD “did not seem to interfere with the sleep cycle of healthy volunteers.”
A separate study, published in Neuropharmacology in 2012, suggests that CBD actually “reduces physiological REM sleep in normal rats.” This is relevant since most dreaming episodes occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. However, the study also noted that, aside from the anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects of CBD, the effects of the compound on “anxiety-induced sleep disturbances remain unclear.”
Finally, in a more recent 2019 publication that was developed to observe CBD’s specific effects on sleep and anxiety, researchers found that nearly 70% of patients experienced an improvement in sleep over the first month of the study. CBD was “well-tolerated” in 95.8% of the patients, and the study made no mention of nightmares, bad dreams, or enhanced dreaming episodes.
So Why Do Some People Say CBD Oil Gives Them Nightmares or Bad Dreams?
Anecdotal evidence – i.e., non-scientific accounts of people’s personal experiences – generally holds little merit within the clinical, medical, and scientific communities. Those who think they may be able to benefit from CBD should not let anecdotal reports of nightmares (such as those found in popular online forums) influence their intentions of using CBD.
Is it possible that some people have experienced bad dreams or nightmares after taking CBD oil? Absolutely. Is there any evidence suggesting it was the CBD that caused these nightmares? No.
As with all things, it is suggested to use CBD moderately at first, and if needed, work up gradually in terms of daily milligram consumption. And of course, always try and speak with a doctor whenever possible about implementing CBD into your daily routine.
If you have taken CBD and experienced bad dreams, it could prove beneficial to try and take CBD earlier in the day rather than right before going to bed.
Furthermore, for individuals that hold a medical cannabis card or have access to legal recreational cannabis dispensaries, it may be worthwhile to try a small dose of a higher THC product, such as an oral 1:1 THC: CBD spray. THC is known to increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep, which is a stage of sleep typically void of any dreaming episodes.
Additional Information on Sleep Stages
Normal sleep is broken up into REM sleep and three distinct stages of non-REM sleep. The first stage of non-REM sleep (Stage 1) typically lasts just several minutes and occurs when an individual begins to shift from wakefulness to actual sleep. Brain waves begin to slow here, the heart rate lowers, and muscles start to relax.
Stage 2 sleep involves even more dramatic relaxation of the muscles, as well as continued lowered heart rate and decreased body temperature. Deep sleep, or Stage 3 sleep, is crucial when it comes to cellular repair processes. This is when the body and the brain are at their most relaxed. When individuals enter into a deep sleep, they don’t typically dream because cerebral activity is largely halted.
REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, on the other hand, is the stage of sleep where most dreaming episodes take place. In a physiological sense, REM sleep (which typically occurs about an hour and a half after someone falls asleep) involves several peculiar – albeit entirely normal – processes.
The eyes shift quickly behind the eyelids from side to side, breathing becomes erratic, and heart rate and blood pressure levels rise considerably compared to non-REM sleep stages. Again, based on the above-cited research, CBD does not appear to directly affect any specific stage of the sleep-wake cycle.
Final Thoughts on CBD, Nightmares, and Bad Dreams
All in all, there is little concern (and zero scientific evidence) that CBD oil causes nightmares or bad dreams. While there are plenty of reports of individuals experiencing weird dreams after taking CBD, there is nothing to support the notion that CBD specifically causes the problems.
That being said, always remember to use CBD responsibly, and try and do plenty of research before making any purchases to find the safest, highest quality, most reliable CBD products you can afford.
We take a look at how CBD affects sleep patterns and dreams. Are nightmares a possible side effect of this compound? Here's what you need to know.
CBD and Dreaming: Does CBD Make Your Dreams More Vivid?
Unfortunately for us cannabidiol (CBD) enthusiasts, we’re still in the earliest stages of figuring out exactly how CBD works, or even what it works for: for example, the scientific literature is still very mixed on whether or not CBD works as a sleep aid or what it’s effect on sleep is, so it should come as no surprise that the published scientific literature has very little to say about CBD and dreaming.
As with so much about CBD, we’re forced to rely mostly on anecdote. Let’s be honest though: anecdotes are more fun. But when it comes to CBD’s effect on dreaming, anecdotes are mixed: a lot of people say it gives them more vivid dreams, some say it gives them nightmares, and yet others insist that it allows them to lucid dream.
What’s our take on this? Well, one of our Remedy Journey team members happens to be a skilled and experienced lucid dreamer who cultivated this skill over many years, and who also happens to be an avid CBD user.
Though she normally uses CBD during the day, she was willing to serve as a guinea pig and take increasingly large doses of CBD before bed and see the effect it had on her lucid dreaming skills.
In this article, we touch briefly on the existing evidence about CBD’s effect on dreams, and then let her tell her story.
What does the science say about CBD’s effect on dreaming?
While the scientific literature on CBD’s effect on dreaming is pretty scant, there is some preliminary data, but the results have been mixed.
In one 2013 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology , CBD was found to reduce symptoms of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder in Parkinson’s patients; in particular, REM sleep latency (the amount of time it takes for REM sleep to onset) was increased in the subjects. Why is this significant? Because shortened REM sleep latency is a sleep disorder associated with depressive symptoms.
REM sleep is the stage before deep sleep in which dreams occur, so a reduction in REM sleep behavior disorder would indirectly hint at a positive effect on dreaming.
However, another more recent study published in 2018 in the Frontiers of Pharmacology Journal found that CBD did NOT have any effect on sleep-wake cycles in healthy young men.
What to make of these different results?
The authors of the 2018 study note that “ the therapeutic effects of CBD might depend on the presence of specific clinical conditions.” Translation: what effect CBD has on sleep likely depends on the specific circumstances of the user. In the 2013 study, the subjects had a sleep disorder, and CBD was found to have a positive effect on that disorder (the 2013 study was also significantly longer and involved higher dosage of CBD). In the 2018 study, the patients were healthy young men with no sleep disorders, and no effect was observed. The authors also note that, in the scientific literature, CBD has been found to have relatively few side effects and no psychoactive effects, which makes it a small-downside treatment.
This variable effect of CBD — providing positive benefits for some but no effect for others — aligns with the anecdotes you can read online of how CBD has affected people’s dreams: some say it’s had a positive effect, some say it gave them nightmares, and some say it had no effect at all. It appears to all come down to context.
It’s also worth noting that THC is known to suppress REM sleep (and therefore dreams), and that in many cases CBD serves to reverse the effects of THC. This may imply that CBD (or perhaps even other cannabinoids) can reverse the REM-suppressing capacity of THC.
So, now comes the question: what effect does CBD have on the dreams of someone who is a skilled lucid dreamer? We tried to answer this with our experiment below.
CBD dreaming experiment: how CBD tripped out my already-trippy dreams
First, a little background: I’m now 22, and learned how to lucid dream over the course of several years when I was in high school. Let’s just say my life wasn’t amazing at the time, and the idea of galavanting about however I wished in my dreams sounded amazing. So, I started a dream journal, writing down every detail I could remember of every dream right after I woke up and “reality checking” during the day, a process where you make yourself meticulously aware of your surroundings at random points in the day, so that you can eventually do the same when you’re sleeping at night to tell if you are dreaming.
After years of practicing I was able to conjure whatever adventure I wanted in my sleep, but I’d found that ability diminished over the last couple of years. I’d heard that CBD gave some people trippy dreams, so I decided to give it a shot to see if it could help me regain my lucid dreaming thunder.
I carried out this experiment in three different sections over the course of three consecutive nights, increasing the dosage each night, all administered within one hour of going to bed. Immediately after waking up, I wrote down everything I could remember from my dreams to get the clearest sense of the effect CBD had. I used NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum CBD Oil.
Experiment 1: small dose
On the first night I took 5 drops of oil, which came out to about 12mg of CBD. At this dosage, I didn’t notice any significant changes in my ability to control my dreams. I felt that my dreams were more a recorded movie that I was being forced to watch, like a movie comprised of incoherent scenes put in an incorrect order that didn’t have a flow or make sense, kind of like the scenes in the movie “Memento.”
12mg is small potatoes, though, so I didn’t necessarily expect a huge effect at this dosage. Let’s step it up a bit.
Experiment 2: moderate dose
On the second night I had a full dropper, which is about 25mg of CBD. That night I experienced a slight increase in my ability to control my dreaming environment, meaning I was able to control some of my actions. It was as if I were watching a movie, but could periodically will my consciousness to move myself within that specific moment.
Perhaps a better way to explain this is that in my dream I felt like a marionette being moved not of my own will, and at spontaneous moments I was able to make my own movements, and only briefly. Simply put, I could control a small fraction of what I was doing.
Experiment 3: high dose
The third night I took two full droppers, about 50mg of CBD, I experienced a couple of interesting differences I have never experienced before. Not only did I have free control to do whatever I wanted in my environment, but I also felt like everything in my dream was happening in real time.
Things didn’t occur in scenes, it was more like a continuous storyline. My environment didn’t suddenly change in 0.002 seconds, and neither did what I was doing. It was as if I was walking in a different world going about my day like it were normal.
So, I noticed that CBD did improve my ability to lucid dream, and that there was a dose-response relationship to this effect: the more CBD I consumed, the more lucid my dreams seemed to be. As someone who genuinely loves lucid dreaming, this is an exciting result, and one I plan to test in the future, perhaps with other CBD products like a different tincture to see what kind of wild dreams I have.
As for what people can take away from this experiment, it’s that for certain people CBD may be a helpful tool in developing the skill of lucid dreaming. But again, the anecdotes and the available evidence indicates that this won’t be the case for everyone.
FAQ about CBD and dreams
Does CBD affect dreaming?
Yes, the science and anecdotes both show that CBD can affect dreaming, but it also appears to only affect dreaming for certain people. Whether or not CBD influences your dreams may depend on whether or not you have any sleep disorders.
Does CBD help nightmares?
No, there is no evidence (and very few anecdotes) which suggest that CBD can help diminish nightmares in any way. In fact, the few stories you find indicate it’s more likely to do the opposite and make your dreams wilder and more vivid.
Does CBD suppress REM sleep?
Few studies have been conducted on this topic, but the evidence suggests that CBD does NOT suppress REM sleep like THC does, and that it may in fact help improve REM sleep disorders.
CBD and Dreaming: Does CBD Make Your Dreams More Vivid? Unfortunately for us cannabidiol (CBD) enthusiasts, we’re still in the earliest stages of figuring out exactly how CBD works, or even what