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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DREAMS ARE MEANINGFUL

This past Saturday I posted on one of my dreams, following up on another article on this subject I published in the Huffington Post more than a year ago.  They were totally different, but now that I can better understand what they mean, I feel more comfortable appreciating how valuable some might be.

We all sleep and we all dream.  Well, a very few don't because of damage to their brain limbic system.  Even cats and dogs dream.


A particularly useful reference is NOVA's "What are Dreams?"  To summarize, this 50 minute TV program indicated:


  -  You sleep in 90 minute cycles.  There are various stages that lead to rapid eye movement (REM), which occurs when you reach the point of deepest sleep.  REM sleep occupies 20% of the time, while the four stages of non-REM sleep take up 80%.   However, it's a lot more complicated than that, for the first REM sleep only lasts 10 minutes, while the later ones can go on for an hour.  Age makes a difference, as infants are in REM sleep 50% of the time.  Your body rebuilds itself during non-REM, while memories and synthesis for future actions occur during REM sleep.  This is important and new.  Apparently, your brain is practicing hypothetical future events during REM sleep, so if you ever encounter this situation, it will be better able to carry you through this potential crisis.  Creativity, which has led to Nobel Prizes and novels, generally comes from REM sleep.  Below is "The Knight's Dream" by Antonio de Pereda:


  -  You dream at any time in your sleep, but it seems that non-REM dreams are more positive and shorter.  REM dreams are longer, more vivid and frequently negative.   However, children night terrors occur during non-REM, while adult nightmares during REM sleep.  Depressed people have more REM sleep.

  -  There is a correlation between recent experiences, including going to sleep with a thought in your mind that you want to dream about something, and the dreams themselves.  Rats, for example, dream of mazes after just being through one.  You need to watch the TV program to learn how this is determined.  Even creepier, scientists then manipulated these dreams, leading to a possible service some day of your dreams being orchestrated.

Here is a five step system to dream your dream and remember it.  Bet you're surprised you can do this.  Frankly, I haven't tried it yet.

  -  You dream more during REM-sleep, and in either case, need to be awakened during the dream to remember it.  The knowledgeable field has mentioned that younger people remember dreams more, and creative people are particularly good at this.  I can't find any reference supporting my contention, but I think older people dream more because many of them, including me, need to wake up once or twice each night because of the need to go to the bathroom.  So how best to remember your dream?  Hate to say this, get old, or use an alarm clock.  If you can easily go back to sleep, you'll luck on out on catching some doozies.

Then, there is the matter of wet dreams.  Both males and females experience nocturnal "emissions," but the prevalence is greater for the former.  Click on this for more information.

So about my two dreams:

1.  Wow, Did I Have a Daffy Dream?  This was a relatively short, mildly stressful experience, and, clearly, a non-REM dream.  Most of my dreams are of this type for the simple reason that there are a lot more of them.

2.  Suicide Dreams.  This was a long, vivid, colorful, futuristic dream that dealt with suicide.  Absolutely a REM dream.  My brain now knows about the challenge of suicide and how to sidestep that future.  This dream occurred about a year and a half after my wife passed away, and for first time, my dream mind understood that she was gone.  Interesting that it took that long.

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