The brain’s activity was found to be a better indicator of dreaming in animals than REM because some creatures, such as owls, do not move their eyes. In this way, all mammals were seen to exhibit active sleep or dreaming. Birds also dream, and, measured in this way, so do many types of fish, reptiles and some amphibians. See science, sleep and dreams. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The major scientific conclusion is that we do not learn from what we hear while asleep. Sleep is important in the process of learning, however.
If one learns a list of nonsense words, memory of them eight or twenty-four hours later is better if we have slept; memory eight hours later without sleep is not as efficient as twenty- four hours later with intervening sleep. This suggests memory traces are strengthened during sleep.
That we do learn, in the sense of creating new information or perception, while we sleep is generally accepted. Albert Einstein suggested that the creative scientists are those who have access to their dreams. He meant that in order to be innovative we must be able periodically to leave behind the practical everyday path of commonsense and rational thought.
The rational tends to move in areas of thought connected with what is already known.
To create something new, to find a new direction, we may need to be capable of retrieving apparently irrational ideas, sift them and reconstruct them in practical ways.
Dreams have this ability to fantasise, to look at and experience the irrational, to take an idea and move it completely out of its old setting or viewpoint. Because our mind can do this in sleep, we can touch not only our creativity, but also our ability to problem solve. As a personal test of this, try the following experiment. At the end of this explanation a problem will be set.
It is one that requires no special training or information to solve.
The solution is simple and will be seen as conect when reached. But do not even begin to think about the problem until you go to bed! It would discount the experiment if you did. On going to bed, think about the problem for no more than 15 minutes.
If you solve the problem note how long it took.
If not, stop thinking about it and go to sleep, making the resolve to remember any dreams.
It is likely that you will dream the answer.
If not, on waking spend a funher 15 minutes trying to reach the answer.
The letters 0,T,T,F,F,-,-, form the beginning of an intelligible series. Add two more letters which make it obvious that an infinite number of letters could be added. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
Example: 4I had backed my car into a big yard, a commercial area. My wife, two of my sons and I got out of the car. As we stood in the yard talking I realised there was a motorbike where my car should be. I said to everyone, “There was a car here a moment ago, now it’s a motorbike. Do you know what that means? It means we are dreaming.” Mark my son was now with us, and my ex-wife. I asked them if they realised they were dreaming. They got very vague and didn’t reply. I asked them again and felt very clearly awake’ (William V). William’s is a fairly typical lucid dream, but there are features which it does not illustrate. During the days or weeks prior to a lucid dream, many people experience an increase in flying dreams.
The next example shows another common feature.
Example: In many of my dreams I become aware that I am dreaming. Also, if anything unpleasant threatens me in the dream I get away from it by waking myself (Alan). Lucidity often has this feature of enabling the dreamer to avoid unpleasant elements of the dream.
The decision to avoid any unpleasant internal emotions is a common feature of a person’s conscious life, so this aspect of lucidity is simply a way of taking such a decision into the dream. Some writers even suggest it as a way of dealing with frightening dreams. Avoidance does not solve the problem, it simply pushes the emotion deeper into the unconscious where it can do damage more surreptitiously. Recent findings regarding suppressed gnef and stress, which connects them with a higher incidence of cancer, suggests that suppression is not a healthy way of dealing with feelings.
Another approach to lucidity is that it can be a son of playground where one can walk through walls, jump from high buildings and fly, change the sofa into an attractive lover, and so on. True, the realisation that our dream life is a different world and that it does have completely different principles at work than our waking world is imponant. Often people introven into their dream life the morals and fears which are only relevant to being awake in physical life.
To avoid a charging bull is cenainly imponant in waking life. In our dream life, though, to meet its charge is to integrate the enormous energy which the bull represents, an energy which is our own but which we may have been avoiding or running away’ from previously. Realising such simple differences revolutionises the way we relate to our own internal events and possibilities.
To treat lucid dreams as if they offered no other attainable expenence than to manipulate the dream environment, or avoid an encounter, is to miss an amazing feature of human potential.
Example: ‘In my dream I was watching a fern grow. It was small but opened out very rapidly. As I watched I became aware that the fern was simply an image representing a process occurring within myself which I grew increasingly aware of as I watched. Then I was fully awake in my dream and realised that my dream, perhaps any dream, was an expression of actual and real events occurring in my body and mind. I felt enormous excitement, as if I were witnessing something of great importance’ (Francis P).
It is now acceptable, through the work of Freud, Jung and many others, to consider that within images of the dream lie valuable information about what is occurring within the dreamer, perhaps unconsciously. Strangely, though, it is almost never considered that one can have direct perception into this level of internal ‘events’ without the dream. What Francis describes is an experience of being on the cusp of symbols and direct perception. Considering the enormous advantage of such direct information gathering, it is surprising it is seldom mentioned except in the writings of Corriere and Han, The Dream Makers.
Example: After defining why I had not woken in sleep recently, i.e. loss of belief, I had the following experience. I awoke in my sleep and began to see, without any symbols, that my attitudes and sleep movements expressed a feeling of restrained antagonism or irritation to my wife. I could also observe the feelings were arising from my discipline of sexuality. Realising I did not want those feelings I altered them and woke enough to turn towards her’ (Francis P). After the first of his direct perception dreams, Francis attempted to use this function again, resulting in the above, and other, such dreams. Just as classic dream interpretation says that the dream symbols represent psychobiological logical processes which might be uncovered by dream processing, what we see in Francis’ lucidity is a direct route to self insight, and through it a rapid personal growth to improved life experience. Such dreams provide not only psychological insight, but very frequently a direct perception of processes occurring in the body, as the following example illustrates.
Example: ‘Although deeply asleep I was wide awake without any shape or form. I had direct experience, without any pictures, of the action of the energies in my body. I had no awareness of body shape, only of the flow of activities in the organs. I checked over what I could observe, and noticed a tension in my neck was interfering with the flow and exchange of energies between the head and trunk. It was also obvious from what I could see that the tension was due to an attitude I had to authority, and if the tension remained it could lead to physical ill health’ (Tony C).
An effective way to develop lucidity is frequently to consider the events of waking life as if they were a dream. Try to see events as one might see dream symbols. What do they mean in terms of one’s motivations, fears, personal growth? What do they suggest about oneself? For instance a person who works in a photographic darkroom developing films and prints might see they were trying to bnng to consciousness the latent—unconscious—side of themselves.
A banker might feel they were working at how best to deal with their sexual and personal resources. In this way one might actually apply what is said in this dream dictionary to one’s outer circumstances.
The second instruction is, on waking, at a convenient moment, imagine oneself standing within one’s recent dream. As you get a sense of this dream environment, realise that you are taking waking awareness into the dream. From the standpoint of being fully aware of the dream action and events, what will you now do in and with the dream? Re-dream it with consciousness.
For example the things you run from in your normal dreaming you could now face. See dream processing for fun her suggestions. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
Most of the dreams you remember occur during the REM stage when the brain is fully active. After about ten minutes of REM you enter stages two, three and four again, and keep moving backwards and forwards through the sleep cycle. As the cycle continues, however, the REM phase gets longer and longer with the longest phase being around thirty to forty-five minutes. Of all your dreams during all the stages of REM and NREM (it has recently been discovered that we can dream then too), the final REM stages are the ones you are most likely to remember.
Because sleeping and dreaming are so crucial, your brain may sometimes demand the sleep it needs so that you don’t get into mental or physical overload. That’s why you may sometimes drop off for no apparent reason when you’re traveling by car or train, or watching TV.
Research on sleep-deprived animals shows that sleep is necessary for survival. For example, whilst rats normally live for two to three years, those deprived of REM sleep survive only about five weeks on average, and rats deprived of all sleep stages live only about three weeks. Other studies have shown that subjects repeatedly awoken during REM—which means they were deprived of dreams— become anxious, bad tempered and irritable. This suggests that sleep is vital for physical rest and repair, and REM sleep, when we are most likely to dream, is essential for our emotional well-being. Therefore, although we still aren’t sure about the whys, whats and hows of sleep and dreams, it’s possible to conclude that the reason we sleep is to dream.... Dreampedia
The next leap forward in understanding came when Aserinsky and Kleitman found rapid eye movements (REM) in 1953. In 1957 the REM were linked with dreaming. This defined sleep into two different observable states, REM sleep, and NREM (non-rapid eye movement or non-rem) sleep. Within NREM three different stages have been identified. These are defined by the different EEG patterns of electrical activity in the brain. They are measured by the height (amplitude) of the brain waves and frequency of up and down movement. There are also electrical changes occurring in the muscles (measured using an electro- myograph or EMG), and in movement of the eyeballs (measured using an electro-oculograph or EOG).
While awake the height is low and frequency fast. As we relax prior to sleep the EEG shifts to what are called alpha waves, at 8 to 12 cps (cycles per second). Stage one of sleep is the transition between this drowsy state of alpha waves to sleeping, in which theta waves occur, at 3 to 7 cps. In this first stage we experience random images and thoughts. This lasts about 10 minutes, followed by stage two, in which ‘sleep spindles’ occur which have 12 to 14 cps on the EEG. These last from 1/2 to 2 seconds, with K complexes following, which are slow large EEG waves. About half our sleep period is spent in this second stage of sleep. Deep sleep is reached when our brain exhibits delta waves, with 1/2 to 2 cps.
After approximately an hour and a half from falling into deep sleep, an exciting change occurs. We return to level two and REM occur. Suddenly the brain is alert and active, though the person is asleep and difficult to wake. This level has been called paradoxical sleep because of this fact. Voluntary muscular activity is suppressed and the body is essentially paralysed. Morrison has pointed out that, although the brain is transmitting full muscular activity messages, these are usually suppressed by an area of the brain in the pons. But bursts of short actions occur, such as rapid eyeball jerks, twitches of the muscles, changes in the size of the pupil, contractions in the middle ear, and erection of the penis. It may be that similar excitation occurs in the vagina. Also, autonomic storms’ occur dunng which large erratic changes occur in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and in other autonomic nervous system functions. These are the changes accompanying our dreams.
If we slept for eight hours, a typical pattern would be to pass into delta sleep, stay there for about 70 to 90 minutes, then return to stage two and dream for about five minutes. We then move back into delta sleep, stay for a short period and shift back to level two, but without dreaming, then back into level three.
The next return to stage two is longer, almost an hour, with a period of dreaming lasting about 19 minutes, and also a short period of return to waking. There is only one short period of return to stage three sleep which occurs nearly four hours after falling asleep. From there on we remain in level two sleep, with three or four lengthening periods of dreaming, and returns to brief wakefulness.
The average amount of body shifting is once every 15 minutes.
1- In undergoing 205 hours of sleep deprivation, four healthy males showed various physiological and psychological changes. Some of these were headache, lack of concentration, hallucination, memory loss, tremor and, in some, paranoia. In all cases one night’s sleep restored normal functioning.
2- One in ten people who complain of excessive daytime drowsiness suffer from sleep apnoea, which is a stoppage of breathing while asleep.
3- A condition called narcolepsy causes sufferers to fall asleep at inappropriate times—while making love, walking, playing tennis, working.
4- As we age we usually sleep less. Our REM sleep in particular decreases sharply. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
For instance most times this happened I have been in the middle of a dream in which there is a sense of absolute imperative that I must make love/have sex.
It is like being lost in a storm of glamour and fantasy or vision in which I am totally involved.
The whirl of the “dream” is towards the wonder, totality of the need to have sex. As this imperative is expressed in my still spontaneous, dreaming physical action, the experience of sex is also visionary and enormous’ (Charles W).
This fairly common dreaming experience demonstrates powerfully how dreams are an expression of a self regulatory or compensatory action in the psyche and body. Charles says that he had been restraining his sexual activity. This shows the enormous gulf which can exist between what we will to do as a conscious personality, and what our being needs to do or wishes to do outside conscious decision making.
The ‘glamour and fantasy’ Charles describes are regular features of how these deeper needs make themselves known, or attempt to coerce the conscious mind, into fulfilling the need.
If we reject the fantasy, the unconscious processes will attempt a more radical approach, as in actual physical movement while we sleep. This may have given rise to ideas about possession or devils in past ages, when it was not understood that we can split our mind by such conflicts. Fear of the possessing’ influence actually heightens its power through suggestion.
It is much better to understand what one’s needs are, and seek an acceptable fulfilment. See abreaction. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
To sleep in unnatural resting places, foretells sickness and broken engagements.
To sleep beside a little child, betokens domestic joys and reciprocated love.
To see others sleeping, you will overcome all opposition in your pursuit for woman’s favor.
To dream of sleeping with a repulsive person or object, warns you that your love will wane before that of your sweetheart, and you will suffer for your escapades.
For a young woman to dream of sleeping with her lover or some fascinating object, warns her against yielding herself a willing victim to his charms. ... Ten Thousand Dream Interpretation
If in fact the people are unaware or uncertain about something, and if one sees them in such a state of slumber in a dream, it means that God Almighty will remove that blind, and they will see things clearly.
If one sees himself sleeping or laying on his back in a dream, it means that he will gain power and financial success in the world. Sleeping with the face down in a dream means losing one’s job, or it could mean poverty. Sleeping on the floor in a dream means owning a land, being a rich person, or 396 having children. Sleeping for an unmarried woman in a dream means that she will get married shortly.
The sleeping of an unjust ruler in a dream means a temporary relief for the people. Sleeping in a dream also means intoxication of the mind, ecstasy, a sickness, neglecting one’s duties, disunity, humiliation, or death. Sleeping under a tree in a dream means having a large progeny.
(Also see Doze; Sleeping on the stomach Slumber; Turning in one’s sleep)... Islamic Dream Interpretation
A lack of clarity, and consciousness, avoidance of problems.
The need for rest.
Folklore: Negative omen.... Little Giant Encyclopedia
A dream of sleeping with someone who is repulsive augurs £11 in matters of the heart.
To sleep beside a small child predicts that yonr love will be reciprocated by your sweetheart.
Sleeping alone m a bed with clean, fresh linen is a favorable sign to those in love.... The Complete Dream Book
Animals such as cats and dogs apparently have dreams, too, just like people; animals are also a theme in many people’s dreams.
It has been suggested that when animals dream, they are focused on the types of things they usually do in their waking state. For example, animals that use their noses a lot, such as dogs, have dreams with a significant olfactory component.
There was one behavioral study that showed that monkeys have visual dreams. Some monkeys were taught to respond to visual stimuli by pressing a button. Later, when they were sleeping, they made hand motions as if they were pressing buttons, suggesting that they were seeing some- thing. To add further credence, in a separate study, a gorilla who had been taught sign language put together two signs to form the combined term sleep pictures, presumably a reference to the visual components of dreams.
Again, in an experiment on cats, portions of the brainstem responsible for muscle inhibition during REM sleep were damaged. These cats entered REM sleep, and rather than lying quietly with their eyes moving, they stood up, walked around, and chased imaginary creatures, as if they were acting out their dreams without waking up.
Such findings, as well as our everyday observations of household pets that growl and make movements in their sleep, make it almost certain that animals dream in much the same way that we dream. The implications of this conclusion, however, tend to undermine certain dream theories, such as Sigmund Freud’s notion that the sole purpose of dreams is to allow us to act out socially unacceptable urges—an idea clearly inapplicable to animals.... Dreampedia
If this area is damaged or suppressed, humans or animals make full muscular movements in connection with what is dreamt. He observed that cats would stalk, crouch and spring at imaginary prey. These very imponant findings suggest a number of things.
The unconscious process behind dreaming, apan from creating a non-volitional fantasy, can also reproduce movements we have not consciously decided upon. This shows we have at least two centres of will which can direct body and mental processes. Christopher Evans, linking with the work of Nicholas Humphrey at Cambridge University, sees the movements of dreaming cats as expressions of survival ‘programs’ in the biological computer. These ‘programs’ or strategies for survival need to be replayed in order not only to keep in practice, but also to modify them in connection with the influx of extra experience and information. In the human realm, our survival strategies and the way we relate to our social, sexual, marriage and work roles may also be replayed and modified in our dreaming.
Such movements are not linked simply to survival or social programs’.
An important aspect of dreaming is releasing painful emotions or trauma, and moving toward psychological growth. Also, the process producing these movements does not keep strictly to the realm of sleep.
It is observable that many muscular spasms, ticks, or unwilled waking movements arise from this source—the will’ of the unconscious—attempting to release trauma or initiate a necessary programme of psychological growth. That such dream’ activities as spontaneous movement or verbalisation should occur during waking would appear to suggest that a dream must occur with them. Research shows this is unlikely. It does however show that a dream may be imagery produced to express this mental, muscular, emotional ‘self regulation’.
The imagery may not be necessary if the process is consciously experienced.
Because the self-regulatory process produces spontaneous movements, emotions and verbalisation, it is likely there is a connection between it and many ancient religious practices such as pentecostalism, shaktipat in India, subud in Indonesia and seitai in Japan. These are forms of psychotherapy practised by other cultures. They create an environment in which practitioners can allow spontaneous movement and fantasy while awake. Because consciousness is then involved, and can co-operate with the self-regulating or healing activities of the unconscious, such practice can lead to better health and utilisation of unconscious functions.
The older religious forms of this practice relied on belief systems of spirits or gods. Once the connection between these practices and the dream is realised, much in them which was obscure becomes understandable. In my book Mind and Movement I explain the connection between the dream process, self regulatory healing, extended perception and waking consciousness. See abreaction; sleep walking; dream as therapist and healer. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The dream probably evokes unhappy feelings or conditions from the past, as the person used rocking to cope with their past distress, it occurs as an habitual accompaniment of the distressing dream. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If the child is agitated, excited or acting in a manner to injure themselves during the sleep walking, then it may be a sign of emotional distress.
The same applies to adults. Many sleep walkers perform complex acts without coming to harm.
A young Ponsmouth boy drove his father’s car 27 miles before waking in Southampton.
The police checked his story and did not charge him. But sometimes severe injury is inflicted either upon themselves or others. During a dream phone-in on London Broadcasting Company, a man told me his experience of smashing through a glass window, cutting an artery and nearly bleeding to death. In America and England homicidal acts have been committed while the person claimed to be sleepwalking, and the people involved were acquitted of murder.
Because of such powerful activity during sleep, many people who experience this type of sleep walking are worried about what they might do to a partner sleeping next to them.
In most cases one wakes as the contact is made, or the involved person wakes one, but the element of risk cannot be denied. Where such worry exists, hope can be gained by understanding what was observed with many men who began to sleep walk after war combat. In their cases the movements, speech and emotions were observably connected with trauma occurring during their war experience.
The self regulatory process in dreams was thereby attempting to release the tension, horror or emotional pain of the events. Where these emotions could be met consciously, perhaps with the help of a psychotherapist, the sleep movements stopped. This suggests that dramatic activity while sleep walking has similar roots, and can be dealt with. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
2. Not fully aware of something.
3. The awareness of trying to ﬁnd the answer to something by dreaming. ... New American Dream Dictionary
(2) It may be symbolic of a peaceful, tranquil state in w hich you are at one with your true self and inner awareness takes the place of sensor)’ reactions to the external world.... A Dictionary of Dream Symbols
If in your dream you struggle to wake up it is a warning that you are not complying with commitments you have taken on and want to escape reality. From a philosophical point of view, this dream represents human nature; being asleep is ignorance; waking up is tantamount to understanding the reality around us.
In these cases, the concept of “astral travel” is referred. It means that you have abandoned your bodies and you are looking at it lying in bed.... The Big Dictionary of Dreams
If it is you who is asleep, the same applies, only in a more general way—it’s time to wake up to more awareness or action.... Complete Dictionary of Dreams
2. The desire to go back to the womb. ... New American Dream Dictionary
Depth Psychology: Sleep is the symbol of your unconscious fear of or flight from reality. Do you have unknown talents you need to “wake up” ? A bedroom is a sign of your sexual needs. Bedroom dreams usually appear when something is wrong in an intimate relationship. See House, Room.... Dreamers Dictionary
If the sleepover party was fun, social plans that you make now will bring you much happiness.
If the party was bad, this indicates that you are unsure of your social skills.
If you see other people sleeping in your dream, you may not be alert or informed about a particular situation in your waking life.... My Dream Interpretation
If so, try to seek the people and activities that can give your life more purpose and a deeper meaning.... My Dream Interpretation
The dreamer was single, so the subject of the talk may have been bothering her. Perhaps the most prolific and creative of sleep talkers was Edgar Cayce. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
During the course of a normal night of sleep, the human brain switches between deep and light sleep, and dreaming sleep, several times; confusional arousals occur when the brain becomes divided, literally, between sleeping and waking. Part of the brain wakes up, but another part remains deeply asleep. During a confusional arousal, a sleeper may talk, sit up in bed, scream, or even leave the bed and wander around—the proverbial sleepwalking, although that is less common than sleeptalking. Because development of the sleep stage switching mechanism occurs during the period from infancy to about ten years old, confusional arousals are most common in this age group. Current research confirms the validity of popular lore about sleeptalkers and sleepwalkers—that one should not attempt to awaken them. Despite the open eyes, despite the calm or agitated talking, sleeptalkers are deeply asleep. The recommended strategy is that there is no need to yell or try to wake up someone who is sleeptalking; just make sure they are safe and comfortable. In the morning, the sleeper will not remember their episode. See also Sleep disorders entry in NIGHTMARES.... The Element Encyclopedia
Excessive use of alcohol disrupts the natural pattern of sleep, so that chronic alcoholics who have completely abstained for extended periods of time have been shown to exhibit abnormal sleep patterns. It has been speculated that the disrup- tion of sleep patterns—particularly the reduction of REM sleep (often associated with dreaming)— by alcoholism results in irreversible brain damage. ... Dreampedia
Perhaps the best way to understand sleep and dreams is to understand the brain. At the very start of the twentieth century it was found that the brain gave off electrical impulses, and by the 1920s scientists could measure brain waves. To obtain these readings, electrodes were attached to various parts of the head, the impulses being transformed onto electroencephalograms (EECs) on computer screens.
It seems that once you settle down to bed, your brain and body undergo radical changes from their waking state. The difference between being asleep and being awake is loss of conscious awareness, and once you start to doze, dream researchers believe you progress through four stages of sleep. These form the basis of a cycle that repeats up to four or five times every eight hours of sleep.
During the first stage, your body and mind become relaxed. Heart and breathing rate slow down, blood pressure lowers, body temperature drops slightly and eyes roll from side to side. You are neither fully conscious, nor fully unconscious, and could easily awake if disturbed. This stage of gradually falling asleep is also called the hypnagogic state (the hypnopompic state is a similar state when you are just waking up) and you may experience hallucinations that float before your eyes.
In stage two, breathing and heart rate become even slower, eyes continue to roll and you become more and more unaware of the noises of the outside world. It isn’t until the third stage of sleep, however, that you are sleeping soundly and it would be difficult to wake you. Finally, you enter a deep sleep state known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) when your brain is released from the demands of the conscious mind. It will now be quite hard to wake you and, although you may sleepwalk or have night terrors, you will rarely be able to remember them. This slow-wave sleep cycle lasts about ninety minutes. At the end of stage four, you move back through stages three and two and one, at which point you enter a phase called rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep.... Dreampedia
Sleep is absolutely crucial for our physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. It is during sleep that we abandon conscious control of our physical body and the unconscious mind is allowed to roam free, giving rise to dreams.
Although we now know a lot more about dreams, their real purpose isn’t yet fully understood. It wasn’t until we approached the middle of the twentieth century, with the first electronic monitoring of the brain, that we began to get a clearer idea of the nocturnal adventures of the mind. For centuries it was thought that the purpose of sleep was to rest the body and the mind, but this reasoning was disproved when it was shown that both the body and mind are active during sleep. If sleep doesn’t rest the body or mind, then what is it for?
Sleep researchers may not yet have discovered the exact reason for sleep or dreams but they have discovered some fascinating things. For example, it seems that when we are asleep our brains are a bit like computers that are offline. This J. August Strindberg means they are not idle but are filing and updating the day’s activities. They take stock of your body and release a growth hormone to repair damaged tissues and stimulate growth, while the immune system gets to work on attacking any viral or bacterial infections that may be present. Some experts believe the brain also jettisons trivial information during sleep to prevent it becoming overburdened with unimportant information, but this explanation is perhaps too simplistic, as no memory can be totally eradicated.
The advent of space travel gave scientists the opportunity to prove that resting the body was not the main function of sleep. What they found instead was that prolonged periods of isolation decreased the need for sleep. In other words, the fewer stimuli received from people or external contacts during the day, the less sleep was required. It seems we have a sleep control center at the base of our brain linked with activity during wakefulness. When that gets overloaded we get tired, but if there have not been enough stimuli from the outside world, the sleep mechanism isn’t triggered. It seems, therefore, that boredom and lack of stimuli may account for many cases of insomnia. (Paradoxically, overstimulation also produces insomnia.)... Dreampedia
As I mentioned, you spend about a third of your life sleeping. If you have a life span of seventy-five years, you’ll be asleep for twenty-five of those years. Imagine! Yet, despite the prevalence and common experience of sleep, only recently did science begin to understand what it is all about.
Although dreaming and its causes are still a matter for speculation, brain wave studies provide important information about sleep itself. In a normal night, a person passes through four different stages of sleep, identifiable by brain wave patterns, eye movements, and muscle tension.
In the first stage, the pattern of the brain waves goes from what is known as beta, or normal waking consciousness, to alpha, the first step into sleep. The beta phase is 13 to 26 cps (cycles per second, the speed of the oscillations in the brain wave cycle), during which you are awake and fully functioning, studying, working, socializing. The alpha phase is 8 to 13 cps, a state of deep relaxation during which you are still aware of your surroundings, whether with eyes open or closed. It is the precursor to sleep and the stage reached during light meditation. Alpha is the sort of somnolent state we might go into on a long train ride when we have been staring out the window at a monotonous landscape for hours and are lulled by boredom and inactivity.
During the alpha stage, heart and pulse rates slow down, blood pressure drops slightly, and so does temperature. Your muscles are in a relaxed condition and you experience mental “drifting.” Images described as hypnogogic may float through your mind, seemingly unrelated to anything or else variations of what you were thinking or doing just before going to bed. These hypnogogic images can be vivid, as if drug-induced. Sometimes these images are quite meaningful and may startle you back to the beta state. When this happens, you may experience your muscles jumping back to the ready-to-go stage, a common happening that is called the myoclonic jerk.
Stage three is called theta and is represented by 4 to 8 cps, the same rate you display during periods of intense daydreaming (when you can actually forget where you are) or deep meditation. This stage of abstractedness is sometimes called a brown study. In the theta state, you are neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Yet you are in a light slumber, and, if not disturbed, you will fall asleep. The brain wave pattern of theta is characterized by rapid bursts of brain activity. Sleep researchers believe that theta is truly a sleep state, but when disrupted out of this state many subjects report that they were not asleep but merely “thinking.”
Researchers believe that it is during the theta stage that most dreams occur.
Dreams are recognizable to an observer by what is called rapid eye movement, or REM. The eyeballs move back and forth like someone watching a tennis match under their closed lids. Researchers originally discovered REM by watching cats sleep, and if you observe either a cat or a person sleeping, you will notice their eyes moving back and forth. A cat or dog may twitch as if running, but during REM a human’s muscles are virtually paralyzed. The period of REM ordinarily lasts for several minutes at a time, switching on and off. If you awaken during a REM period, you will most likely remember your dreams easily and in great detail.
“Dreaming liberates perception, enlarging the scope of what can be perceived.”
The Art of Dreaming
The last stage is delta; at 0 to 4 cps, it is the slowest and is evident during the deepest part of the sleep cycle. This is the state when you are totally out and even a ringing telephone or alarm clock may not wake you. Teens often experience this deepest level of sleep in the early morning hours, which is why they are often hard to wake up for school. Teens actually do better when allowed to sleep late: you function better, learn better, and generally feel better when you are able to “sleep yourself out.” It’s unfortunate that teens are often mandated an early rising time for school or even before-school activities, such as sports practice. It’s not only how much you sleep, apparently, but also when you get your sleep that counts.
People awakened from the delta stage of sleep will feel disoriented and only half awake, and they will want nothing more than to go back to sleep. If, for example, a need to visit the bathroom wakes you from a delta sleep, you may bump into the furniture or the walls, even though you know your way around. During delta, there are no eye movements. It is also the time that sleepwalking occurs. As most everyone knows, a sleepwalker can move around unerringly, as if awake, and should be left alone unless he or she is in danger. If not awakened, sleepwalkers almost always make their way back to bed without a problem, and when they do wake up they have no memory of their nighttime excursions.
An average complete sleep cycle lasts about three hours. For the first hour and a half of the cycle the sleeper moves from a waking state to light sleep to REM sleep to deep dreamless sleep. The cycle reverses itself in the second half, returning upward (so to speak) from the deep sleep of delta to the lighter theta- alpha stages. As brain activity rises, so do blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. In warm weather, you may be awakened by feeling hot as your body temperature returns to normal. This is always a clue that you are in the process of waking up, and it’s a good sign to be aware of so that you will focus on your dreams and be ready to take notes on them.
Every night you go through three or four complete sleep cycles of ninety minutes each. The first REM period of the night lasts five to ten minutes. During each cycle, the REM is repeated, lasting longer as the night progresses, while the time between the cycles gets shorter. Your last REM can be as long as an hour, and this is prime dreamtime with excellent chances for good recall of your dreams. What this means in practical terms is that, if you sleep for seven hours straight, half of your dreamtime will occur during the two hours before you wake up in the morning. An additional hour of sleep will give you an additional hour of dreaming! This is a powerful argument for getting to bed early enough to get eight hours of continuous sleep. Of course, these figures are based on laboratory averages and may not hold true for every person—you are an individual and will sleep and dream in your own way. I have found that I dream twice as much as the average reported by sleep studies, sometimes with less sleep than the average, sometimes with more.
None of these states of consciousness—beta, alpha, theta, delta—are foreign to us. We cycle through all four of them during the course of twenty-four hours, slipping in and out of them, mostly without noticing. For example, during normal beta wakefulness, you may drift off into a daydream or reverie, thinking about tonight’s date or tomorrow’s picnic, and enter the alpha phase for a while. The phone rings, or a friend speaks to you, and you snap back into the beta state.
Or you could be driving your car along a monotonous route with little to pay attention to and slip for a few moments into the theta phase (lots of people fall asleep at the wheel for a few seconds and then quickly recover) only to flip back into beta as you see a sharp curve up ahead or hear another car honking. Everyone has had the experience of “dropping off” for a couple of seconds during ordinary everyday activities (or, perhaps, lack of activity).
For those who want to pursue dream studies, it’s important to pay attention to these alpha-theta states. There is a twilight zone where you are neither asleep nor awake but are alert to slight disturbances. It’s here you may catch a dream as it is forming, and it is in this state that you are best able to give yourself instructions for remembering your dreams-to-come and for “programming” dreams to fulfill specific purposes.
Use the following exercise to track your own personal sleep patterns. Following the format given here, keep a record of your sleep habits for two weeks in order to prepare for the exercises throughout this book. You’ll find out a lot about your sleep needs, when you dream, and your level of recall. Over time, even from day to day, you may find differences that are worth noting. Then, if you want to continue the process, record your sleep habits in a separate notebook.... Dreampedia
If one sees the reverse, which is turning from resting on one’s stomach to lying on his back in a dream, it means that he will repent for his sins. It also represents his willingness to face the people and to correct his wrongdoing.
If the subject is a woman, then sleeping on her stomach in a dream means that she is refusing to sleep with her husband.
(Also see Running away; Take a flight; Sleep)... Islamic Dream Interpretation
Make sure windows are closed and, if stairs are a hazard, doors locked. If you’re really worried about your sleepwalking, seek advice from your doctor and if someone you know is sleepwalking don’t try to wake them—just guide them quietly and gently back to bed.... Dreampedia