Here we are in the year 2016. We have mapped our genes and traveled through space, but despite all of our study we still do not fully understand the process and purpose of dreams.
What we do know is that we all dream whether we remember them or not. We also know that without the dreaming that occurs in rem sleep we will slowly go mad.
Seriously we eventually become psychotic. If a person continues to be deprived of deeper levels of sleep they eventually die.
There is one super rare genetic disorder that does just that, fatal familial insomnia. People who are diagnosed with FFI have progressive insomnia due to a rare genetic abnormality. Their brain cannot pass through the first stage of sleep into deeper levels of sleep. Sleeping pills, sensory deprivation, and medically induced comas have proven unable to provide the brain the deeper rest it requires. Over the span of roughly 7 months to a year the person deteriorates cognitively, physically, and eventually dies.
If that is not enough to prove the serious importance of the mystery of rem sleep and dreaming I don’t know what would!
What we know is that in a normal sleep pattern the brain transitions into a rem state about every 90 minutes. Rem stands for the rapid eye movement that occurs in this state.
People experience the majority of their dreaming during rem sleep. But why? Why do our minds spin while we sleep?
Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were a valve for our unconscious desires. With that guy everything was about sex. It certainly doesn’t explain a dream about picking out broccoli while wearing a funny hat.
A more recent theory was that dreaming was the brain making sense of the stimuli occurring around you as you sleep.
I think stimuli definitely gets integrated into your dream,but again that does not explain it all.
Most recently a theory has emerged that dreaming is your brain’s way of clearing up and categorizing the days perceptions and loose ends.
I would be inclined to agree with this line of thinking. Our brains file things away for recall and processing. When things are left unfiled it leaves brain clutter. I like to think of it as defragmenting your hard drive. It is brain housekeeping.
The brain is the computer that runs our body and we need that brain to get organized and be fresh for our next day.
Without enough sleep we are prone to being clumsy, forgetful, and have slower reaction times. All of which are indications of our brain needing more time to clean and reboot.
So how much sleep do we need my research has yielded the following numbers though individual needs may fluctuate.
Infants need 16 hours
Toddlers about 11-12 hours
Kids about 10-11 hours
Teens 9-10 hours
Adults 7-8 hours average
Sleep is a super important time for the body. It is when the body repairs the wear and tear of the day. It heals as well as energizes.
Plus dreams can just be fun. A peek into your own little dream machine can be difficult if you tend not to remember your dreams.
Try some of the following ideas to improve your chance of remembering your dreams. It may be a glimpse at what is going on behind the curtain in your brain.
– Make a clear conscious intention to remember your dreams. It seems that just telling your brain that you want to remember improves your chances of remembering. Wild right?!
– keep a sleep log by your bed. There is a window of time when you wake during which you may momentarily recall the dream. Write it down because it can slip away even when you think you have it clear.
– do not drink alcohol before bed. It disrupts your sleep pattern.
-Caffeine and Spicy food also disrupt your sleep but these are things that may improve your odds of remembering dreams.
– Take B6 supplements. I am not sure why but it is recommended.
– Finally get more sleep. When you are well rested you start to spend more time in the lighter levels of sleep. When your body is done with its hardcore restoration phase you are more likely to linger in lighter sleep longer and wake while dreaming allowing you greater opportunity to remember.
Now if you want to make sure you are having good dreams it is recommended that you fall asleep having positive thoughts, engage in presleep meditation, use white noise in your room, and have a pleasant smell around you.
In addition, sleeping on your right side is associated with having happy dreams while sleeping on your left side is associated with darker dreams. AND strangely enough sleeping on your belly is associated with having more erotic dreams.
Now the meaning of the dreams you remember only you know.
When interpreting dreams I say look for underlying themes. Concerns or joys in your life may be obvious in your dreams. In that case a dream can often be taken at face value.
On the other hand dreams are often nonsensical. They can seem like a hodge podge from our life all mish mashed together.
If you want to find meaning consider first the general tone of the dream. What was the feeling you awoke with. Next think about what in your life is making you feel that way. You may find the connection is easier to identify than it first seemed.
If that does not work see if a pattern emerges. For example a pattern of rushing or running might be telling you that you are feeling generally under pressure. Patterns may tend to occur in dreams when you are experiencing an ongoing issue or facing an unresolved issue. In that case your brain keeps trying to file it away each night with minimal success. It is just one more way that stress plagues us. If your brain is telling you that you are too stressed each night try to listen to the message. Responding by reducing stress just might make your dreams that much better the next night.
Other times dreams are just a silly hodge podge our brain creates as it files away the events of our life. Those tend to be the most fun. They can be like having a glimpse at your own little Willy Wonka factory…but very well might have no meaning at all.
Sweet Dreams-whether or not you remember.
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