What are currently recognized as dreaming periods are the REM (rapid eye movement) portions of sleep. What is generally not known however is that we dream and have other experiences at deeper levels of the psyche that aren’t usually fully consciously remembered. Some of these are formless or imageless interactions. The information and experiences we have on these levels is translated into dream imagery at levels closer to our waking consciousness, and this is what is recognized as REM dreaming.
In other words, we still dream in non-REM periods, but these dreams are trickier to remember directly the deeper we go, because there the information we receive is usually too vast for our conscious minds to contain. So we translate it in symbolic form through the image-laden medium of REM dreams. And yet, as we stretch our dreaming attention and conscious capacity, we are more likely to remember more information from these levels, which is more akin to a direct knowing.
The confusion that REM periods and dreaming periods are exactly synonymous is one that has come about through the scientific study of dreaming from outside observation. But by recognizing that REM is associated with the scanning of dream imagery, it is easier to see that those non-REM periods of sleep are not necessarily ones of ‘unconsciousness’ but quite the opposite, they are periods of superconscious activity that escape our conscious focus, imageless ‘dreams’ of a magnitude that is mind-blowing to glimpse!
(question from George)
THC, the active ingredient of cannibus/marijuana, certainly has a definite affect on one’s dreaming. However, insomuch as THC itself affects different people in different ways, the effect of one’s dreaming will vary from individual to individual too. Some scientific studies have shown that REM periods are reduced or suppressed by THC, and though unfortunately these are quite old, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting this too. While some people may experience vivid dreams shortly after use, generally, most people (again, not all) who smoke or ingest pot find that they have more trouble remembering their dreams, or even a complete lack of dream recall.
One likely cause of this is that THC builds up in the Hippocampus area of the brain, which has been identified as relating to dream interpretation and short-term memory, resulting in less dreaming or less dreaming memory. How quickly this happens, whether with one-time or regular use, is probably different for everyone, though with abstinence, full capacity generally returns in about a week. Personally I don’t go near pot any more, not because I have anything against it, but because I enjoy my dreaming far more. So for some of us it may come to a choice between the two.
When it comes to lucid dreaming, obviously having an impairment of one’s dreaming memory is going to be a bit of a problem, since memory is one of the foundations of lucidity. But for those who want to both smoke marijuana and lucid dream, it may be a worth trying some other herbs to counteract this undesirable side effect… A herbal tea before bedtime of Mugwort (known to increase the vividness of dreams) and Ginko Biloba (known to improve memory) may prove beneficial. In fact, I would recommend trying this whether you smoke or not! These two common herbs will give a nice boost to your dreaming.
Hope this helps! If you want to read more details on studies of THC on REM, check this forum thread (not exactly light reading though.)
Came across this one awhile ago… Wish I could remember where now. But it still cracks me up! And it makes the point so well too… how can we be taught to so flippantly ignore or devalue a huge portion of our inner experience? Should we continue to let the uninformed beliefs of society about dreaming influence the way in which we treat our private or public dreams? If that is considered ‘normal’, I’d rather be considered a raving lunatic! It seems a little backwards though, don’t you think..? Perhaps as this comic satirically suggests, the way in which people ‘usually’ treat dreams is just a little wacko.. At the very least, we might want to know a little more about what we’ve been experiencing in the period we know as ‘sleep’ before we write it off. Well, that’s what I think anyways. 🙂