I know I only just recently wrote about dreams, but that post was pretty unfocused and rather onanistic. (Damn you, Hugh Laurie). Now, we’re going to get a tad more scientific with what I call “Snooze Button Dreams.” (Oh, all right, Hugh, you can stay).
From time to time, I suffer from insomnia. I have gone through evenings in bed, tossing, turning, searching desperately for that perfect position – then failing and ending up not getting a wink of sleep, wishing for more hours of darkness, dreading the buzz of the alarm clock. I’ve found that this is usually during emotional and stressful periods, where I am unable to settle my mind when my head hits the pillow. These are common causes of insomnia, in addition to consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, as well as eating too much before going to bed, according to Mayo Clinic. Eating a lot right before bed gets your guts a-workin’ to digest that food, which can keep you up. Also, staying up late watching a full season of Parks and Recreation on Netflix isn’t too helpful, either. Oh, the habits you accrue in high school – that just get worse in college.
Sleep is good! That’s a no-brainer. It’s been often touted that sleep deprivation results in fatigue, inability to focus, being prone to making more mistakes, and turning into Godzilla.
Another thing you miss out on when you don’t sleep is dreaming. That’s pretty obvious since you need to be asleep to dream. Although if you go long enough without sleep, your body goes “All right, enough of this crap” and shuts down, slipping you into a microsleep. It’s like a court-ordered nap by your over tired body. So while a crispy, pedophilic demon with claws and a fedora isn’t very plausible, the microsleep phenomenon is.
In the beginning, I mentioned Snooze Button Dreams. We’ve all experienced these, especially those at war with the snooze button on your alarm. This type of dream occurs during a short sleeping period, like the period between hitting the snooze button for the fourth and fifth time. These dreams are amazing because you will likely be able to remember them with vivid, outrageous detail.
How could you have fought off dragons in Middle Earth, won an Olympic medal in video gaming, and had a three-way with Mila Kunis and Elton John in the span of 10 minutes? Two words: R.E.M. sleep. (Okay, technically four words: Rapid Eye Movement sleep). During this period, your eyes, as the name implies, shift around rapidly. The rest of your body becomes more or less paralyzed to prevent you from sleepwalking onto your neighbor’s lawn and the centers of your brain responsible for learning are stimulated. Your brain becomes blasted with neural activity and one theory posits that dreaming is your brain’s mechanism of trying to make sense of all that information coming in.
In the link above, the article mentions how your brain incorporates your environment, primarily sounds, into your dream as well as recent experiences. This morning, for example, I woke up to my alarm’s radio. I reset the alarm for a half an hour so that I wouldn’t have to press “SNOOZE” four more times. When I fell back to sleep, I began to dream that I was waking up and getting things done around the house. The visuals, the sounds, the layouts were all identical to my house. It was as if I had already gotten out of bed and was in real, conscious life. (I understand Inception now. If I had spun my top, it never would have fallen then). I remember hearing the voices of the other people in my house. I brushed my teeth, got dressed for the day, had a pleasant conversation over breakfast. And then I woke up and realized I actually had to get my butt out of bed (again).
Dreams are fantastic. They’re so amazing and we’ve yet to definitively know about them.
To read more about dreams and sleep, read these articles:
Thoughts? Dreams? Share them in the comments below.