What Happens When You Sleep High

In this article, we will explore how intoxication affects sleep architecture, sleep quality, dreaming experiences, memory consolidation, and safety. By shedding light on these effects, we aim to encourage readers to prioritize healthy sleep and seek professional guidance for any sleep-related concerns or substance use issues.

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional about this before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine (especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication). It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

How Intoxication Affects Sleep Architecture

To comprehend the impact of sleeping high, we must first grasp the intricacies of sleep architecture, which consists of two main stages: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. During REM sleep, our brains are highly active, and we experience vivid dreams. Non-REM sleep, on the other hand, encompasses different stages, including deep sleep, where our bodies undergo physical restoration.

Alcohol can significantly alter sleep architecture. While it may initially induce drowsiness, it disrupts the normal sleep cycle by reducing REM sleep duration. This can lead to potential effects on memory and mood, as REM sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and emotional processing. Additionally, alcohol can interfere with deep sleep, hindering the body’s restorative processes during this vital stage.

Similarly, marijuana use can also affect sleep architecture. While it may increase sleep onset, it tends to suppress REM sleep, leading to fewer dreams and altered dream experiences. Additionally, marijuana users may experience increased time in lighter stages of non-REM sleep, potentially affecting the overall quality of their rest.

Impact on Sleep Quality

Sleep quality is a crucial aspect of a healthy sleep cycle and encompasses various components, including sleep duration, sleep continuity, and sleep efficiency. Intoxication during sleep can lead to poor sleep quality through various mechanisms.

Substances like alcohol and drugs can cause fragmented sleep, leading to frequent awakenings throughout the night. This results in reduced sleep duration and disrupted sleep continuity, as individuals struggle to maintain continuous sleep patterns. The relationship between sleep quality and cognitive function is significant, as impaired sleep quality can lead to compromised cognitive performance and memory recall. Moreover, disrupted sleep is associated with an increased risk of mood disorders and mental health problems.

Dreaming and Nightmares

Dreaming is an essential part of the sleep cycle, primarily occurring during REM sleep. REM sleep allows for emotional processing and the consolidation of memories. However, alcohol and marijuana can impact dreaming experiences differently.

Alcohol consumption is known to suppress REM sleep, leading to a lack of dream recall. On the other hand, marijuana users may experience vivid dreams or increased dreaming intensity. These altered dream experiences may be linked to the influence of substances on neurotransmitters involved in dream regulation.

Sleep Disorders and Disruptions

Intoxication during sleep can also be associated with the development of sleep disorders or the exacerbation of existing ones. For instance:


Alcohol use can increase the likelihood of sleepwalking episodes, posing safety risks during the night.

Sleep-related eating disorder

Intoxicated individuals may engage in disrupted eating patterns during sleep.

Moreover, intoxication can worsen symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and induce insomnia, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Memory Consolidation and Learning

Sleep plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and learning processes. However, sleeping high can interfere with memory consolidation and the ability to learn and retain information. Alcohol and drugs may impair hippocampal function, affecting memory processes. This impairment can result in difficulties with memory recall and cognitive function.

It is crucial to recognize the importance of sober sleep for memory enhancement and cognitive function. Sober sleep ensures optimal memory consolidation, which is essential for learning and retaining new information.

Safety Concerns and Risks

Sleeping under the influence poses several safety risks:

  • Impaired decision-making: Substances can impair judgment and increase the risk of accidents during sleep.
  • Coordination and balance: Waking up under the influence may lead to decreased coordination and balance.

Additionally, combining substances with sleep aids or medications can have potentiating effects, leading to enhanced sedative effects and an increased risk of overdose. There is also a risk of adverse interactions between substances and medications, making it essential to exercise caution.

Strategies for Better Sleep after Intoxication

For individuals who occasionally sleep high, there are practical tips to improve sleep quality:

Establish a regular sleep schedule

Maintaining consistent sleep-wake times promotes a healthy circadian rhythm, even after using substances.

Create a sleep-conducive environment

Optimize the sleep environment by reducing noise, maintaining a comfortable temperature, and using blackout curtains.

Limit substance use close to bedtime

Avoid intoxication shortly before bedtime to reduce sleep disturbances.

To cope with stress or sleep disturbances without resorting to substances, consider relaxation techniques such as mindfulness practices or deep breathing exercises. Seeking professional help for managing substance use and any underlying sleep issues is crucial for a healthier sleep routine.


Sleeping high can significantly impact sleep architecture, sleep quality, dreaming experiences, memory consolidation, and safety. It is essential to prioritize responsible sleep habits and acknowledge the potential risks associated with intoxication during sleep. By adopting healthier sleep practices and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can improve their overall sleep quality and maintain better physical and mental health. Remember that good sleep is the foundation of well-being, and investing in healthy sleep habits can lead to a more fulfilling and healthier life.

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