Something the scruffy-looking nerfherder learned while researching the effects on the brain of ceasing to smoke pot and reading of others’ experiences is that cannabis disturbs your REM sleep, the phase of sleep where you do most of your dreaming. Some people report not remembering any dreams when smoking or that they seem not to dream at all. And when you dream, you’re actually emotionally processing and filing away things that happened that day or things that will happen in the coming days. When this process doesn’t happen on a regular basis, it leaves us feeling fuzzy-headed, forgetful, and emotionally and mentally unprepared to handle life.
You know, basically me in a nutshell.
It makes sense, then, that when you quit smoking, your brain goes into overdrive in terms of REM sleep as it attempts to make up for lost time. This leads to crazy intense dreams for a period of time that is clearly a common and well-known experience in the world of sobriety from pot. It definitely happened to the SLNH and he’s been asking whether I’ve noticed it myself. But I still dreamt and remembered some of them as a stoner, and I hadn’t really noticed a marked difference since quitting.
In high school, I used to have extremely intense and terrifying nightmares on a regular basis. Many of them involved a recurring character, a sort of typical mysterious and evil “man in black” figure, who followed and terrorized me in myriad places and situations. Sometimes before the action started, my point of view would widen over the scene and I would hear a narrator introducing the upcoming events as I saw myself heading toward my potential doom. And I still remember some of these dreams vividly. One time the man in black chased me into a random house where I ended up in a dead-end kitchen. I grabbed a knife from the block on the counter and tried to defend myself, but he kept snatching the knives away until I had gone through the entire block and had nothing left to try and use. At that point, he came at me with a long, sharp knife in each hand. I put my arms up to shield myself, and he began slashing my forearms over and over again as I screamed. I woke myself up eventually to find my arms tingling and asleep from being held up above my face as I slept, and it took me several moments to realize they weren’t tingling because they were sliced to bits.
Those vivid, intense, terrifying nightmares are now back and I’ve been waking up upset and exhausted the past few days.
For instance, King Toad Agooga woke us up at 5am this morning with an issue that needed attending to, and it took me an hour and half to get back to sleep. I almost just got up for the day, but seeing as I had gone to sleep at midnight, I was really hoping for at least a couple more hours of sleep. Finally I fell back to sleep and had horrific back to back nightmares.
In the first one, I realized I was being stalked online, like someone had a camera in my home and was threatening me. That night, everyone else was asleep and I was in bed when I realized I didn’t think the doors were locked. So I frantically got up to check the doors and as I was locking the front door, my stalker came in the back door. I tried to scream for the SLNH but, of course, couldn’t raise my voice loud enough to wake him (this happens to me a lot in dreams, I either can’t scream, run, or even see when I’m in trouble) and the intruder began assaulting me. Eventually the SLNH woke and the intruder fled and we chased him up into the hills next to our home but he ultimately escaped.
In the second one, the SLNH and I were having dinner at a fancy restaurant when we realized (somehow) that two huge, charming women, both former Marines, were clearly scamming people with the intent to do them harm. So I slipped away “to the bathroom” so I could find help and ended up in the basement of the restaurant, which connected to passageways and stairwells leading to the basements of the surrounding houses. I surfaced in one and told the family there what was happening and they agreed to help, but ended up throwing me in a car and kidnapping me instead. Once I realized what was happening, I was forced to fight my way out of the car so I could get back to the SLNH, whom I assumed had befallen some harm by then.
I woke up from these dreams super stressed and absolutely drenched in sweat. It’s been pretty fucking awful.
Thankfully, once your brain feels like it’s caught up on things, the intensity of your dreams apparently calms back down–although with my history of vivid sober nightmares, I’m not sure what to expect.
But to me, this is just more fascinating (and somewhat scary) evidence of the effect pot has been having on my brain and body over the years. I, like many others, always shrugged off the possible negative effects or potential addictiveness of pot, but this experience has been extremely eye-opening to the lies we prefer to tell ourselves about our chosen substances.
Anyway! The good news is that although I woke up feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted and upset from my nightmares, I feel really good physically today and am kind of stoked about my second day of keto, which is slightly bizarre to me.
And seeing as it’s now after noon, I am off to make another delicious spinach omelette with lots of cheese.
Cheers to plenty of fat in the diet!