Why Dreaming is Critically Important for Your Health, Both Mentally and Physically
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Why Dreaming is Critically Important for Your Health, Both Mentally and Physically

The subject of dreams is both fascinating and absorbing, and can lead one down many avenues, including fantasy, psychology, and creativity. But when it comes to the interpretation of their content, it then becomes a tantalising mystery, which demands to be unraveled. lt promises to be the road to opening ones mind to exciting new discoveries!

Many people, when asked about their dreams, contend that either they do not dream at all, or that they can never remember what they were about.

Protein moleculesThe facts are however, that EVERYBODY dreams, and that dreams are indispensable to our health, because a lack of dream activity can indicate a protein deficiency.

 Pictures by courtesy of: http://www.sxc.hu

It has been claimed that people with a mental disorder do not dream. In fact, what may be happening is that people being TREATED for a mental disorder report fewer dreams. This is because certain therapeutic drugs, those used to treat chronic anxiety for example, reduce the amount of what is called REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) the period of our sleep pattern during which dreams normally occur.

Happy BabyThe phenomenon of REM sleep was first recorded in 1952, when a sleep specialist, working in a sleep laboratory, recorded his observations about a sleeping subject whose eyes fluttered beneath his closed eyelids. This prompted the observer to use a polygraph machine to record the brainwaves during these periods.

In one session, he awakened a subject who was wailing and crying during this period of REM sleep, and confirmed his contention that dreams were in fact occurring at the time. Subsequent, more refined techniques, using an EEG machine to measure brainwave activity confirmed his earlier findings – in fact, he was amazed to find that the brainwave activity is higher during our dreams than when we are wide awake!

Prescription drugs, alcohol, and illegal drugs are major players in the disruption of the human sleep patterns, and therefore of our dreams and the essential deep rest required for recuperation from our daily activities, especially the high levels of stress in modern life.

The disruption of what should be normal sleep ultimately develops into a pattern, which in itself is cyclic, and self-perpetuating, where, in the process it contributes to bouts of insomnia and concomitant sleep disorders including sleep apnea. It is important to record that Sleep Apnea is a serious disorder, if left untreated may lead to death. In Sleep Apnea, the air passages are blocked and as a result the air is unable to pass through. Snoring is an indication that you may probably have sleep apnea, and the advice of a doctor should be obtained.

Winston ChurchillA major stumbling block to restful sleep is epitomized in a malady that people like Winston Churchill suffered from: bipolar depression. He used a euphemism to conceal his mental illness. He called it "The Black Dog." Apparently sleep in this state of mind is experienced as being empty and black.

In cases of insomnia (the lack of the ability to sleep) it must be stressed that this points to a symptom of an underlying problem, and is not the cause of the sleeplessness. It can be an indicator, for example, of conditions such as painful arthritis and endocrine disturbances. The main endocrine glands include the pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, and adrenal glands. Other organs which are not so well known for their endocrine activity include the stomach.

Sleep ApneaOf considerable importance in connection with insomnia, responsible members of the medical fraternity are at pains to stress that the sleeping pill is not the route to follow when effective solutions are being sought for a way to obtain restful and healthy sleep. Indeed, it has been claimed that the ongoing use of sleeping pills can result in the permanent distortion, or “cutting off” of the delta-wave phase of our deep sleep pattern., never to be restored.

Quintessential (i.e. representing the perfect example of a class or quality) to healthy sleep is our ability to dream, and many people are not aware of the fact that we can have several dreams in one night, or period, of sleep. These dreams can occupy from 60 to 120 minutes, and varying in number from four, to as much a seven!

Sleep posesMany people, after a night of sleep, report this scenario: they wake up, remembering very clearly that they have indeed been having a dream, but just ten minutes later can only recall about 10% of the fragments of a dream. Sleep experts concur that this is a fact, and that 50% of dream content dissipates from the conscious in just 5 minutes, and 90% in ten minutes.

In an average lifetime we effectively spend 6 years just dreaming (and that does not include the common daydream) – amounting to spending 2100 hours in the fantasy world of a weird and wonderful realm of dreams.

For as yet unexplained reasons, people who are in the process of kicking the smoking habit, tend to experience longer and more intense dreams.

Cigarette ButtSmoking dreams happen but this does not mean that you will begin smoking again. These dreams are part of the healing process. It is through such dreams that you begin to realize that cigarettes do not have power over you. The next time you have a smoking dream, this is all part of the healing process and the dreams evolve into less unpleasant subconscious experiences with the passage of time.

In a recent survey, it was established that 67% of people polled about their dream content mention that that they have experienced a sense of déjà vu (the experience of thinking that a new situation had occurred before) – inexplicably, this was reported as occurring more often in women than in men. Déjà Vu occurs all over the world to people from all walks of life. However, it's been found that the experience is more common in women and younger people. A possible explanation for this? Could it be that women and younger people are more prone to being intuitive?

FallingA sense of falling is the most common theme in dreams, then a house or home. What do these themes represent? A house usually represents You. The rooms represent different aspects of your persona. The doors are your opportunities. If you dream that you are in a strange new house, it points to your future, and may provide some clues to your way ahead.

What about the occurrence of dreams for blind folk? The answer is that they do dream, but the images that appear depend to a large degree on whether they were blind from birth or not.

Blind Person and ComputerIf someone has been totally blind since birth, they tend to have predominantly auditory dreams. If someone has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. They still dream as though they can see, colors included. For the recall of the image of people since going blind, these faces are apparently just a blur or how they imagine they look now. The image of their mother or father, for example, stays forever young.

Many people are not aware of the fact that vision is not the only sense that constitutes a dream. Sounds, touch and smell, although also experienced by sighted folk, become a hypersensitive area for blind people, and their dreams can be based on a variety of these senses.

Fantasy worldThe subject of dreams is both fascinating and absorbing, and can lead one down many avenues, including fantasy, psychology, and creativity. But when it comes to the interpretation of their content, it then becomes a tantalizing mystery, which demands to be unraveled. Watch this space for the next step on my own personal road to opening ones mind to exciting new discoveries!

See also: Facts about nudity in your dreams

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Comments (16)

Colin, you are truly a talented multi-faceted person. This was most interesting to me. Dreams are a much discussed subject and it has been said that the dreamer himself unlocks the meaning of his dream. Some are so apparent and others are thought provoking. What about repetitive dreams - why do some dream the same dream over and over? Or see in real life a scene or something they had dreamt about? And my own amateur thought on anxiety dreams is that when a person is going through a major stress time, the anxiety dreams brings the thoughts to the surface and they are 'taken out' by the physical manifestations they produce and can be beneficial. Conversely, I dreamt once I had a whole wardrobe of beautuful new clothes and was momentaritly disappointed when I woke up! But then I thought that they represented all the beautiful God-given gifts I already have in my life. Please give us more You did this so well - a great factoidz --- and especially love the baby enjoying his or her dream. My mother use to say when they did that they were dreaming of or playing with angels. :)

Marie, thanks for your vote and your delightful, insightful and inspirational comments. The realm of dreams is a cornucopia of ideas which, once delved into becomes yet another passion....My intention is to expand on this theme with the passage of time. As regards the repetition: To dream that something repeats, indicates that there is something or some message that you need to ingrain in your mind. Perhaps you are trying to memorize something. Alternatively, it can refer to an aspect of monotony and routine of your daily life. You may need to get out of a rut. Thanks for making my day! - yes that pic of the baby was delightful!

We at home are always puzzled and intrigued by dreams. I wrote about it, too and discovered in the process that dreaming still remains a mystery to many. There are many theories but none of these theories adequately explain everything. Nice work Colin.

excellent colin, I plan on writing about dreams as well, in fact I have two published articles here I think here, on nightmares and sleep paralyzes and I am going to do on dreams as well. I am currently working on a series for lobotamies, I starting and have publish three articles on trepanning the forerunner to prefrontal lobotomies already.

That was probably the best article that I've read about dreams. I sincerely enjoyed it.

Absolutely fascinating! I had always wondered about the content of dreams if one is blind. This subject has always excited me since I was young, and now you have reawakened that curiosity to learn more, and to let my mind wander and wonder. Supurb article, Colin. Thank you!!

Many thanks to Sharla and Megan - you have BOTH made my day!

Thanks for your comments Carol (Roach) - a small warning about dreams :-) once you start learning, it becomes progressively more addictive......

Ranked #9 in General Psychology

Fantastic article Colin ! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this very fascinating subject...thanks a lot :)

Thanks Kiran - your encouragement id a REAL fillup for me today!

Excellent article by all standards Colin! I did not know that those who had a mental disorder did not dream. Very interesting write and a highly enjoyable read! You have my vote and buzz.

Fantastic interesting story. I was very interested in how blind people dream. I don't know why but I thought they would be able to see the dreams as a sighted person because the images are in the brain, so I have learnt from this great article. I would love to know what my dogs are dreaming about when they bark, growl, wag their tails and move their legs about!! I could guess...chasing rabbits!

Great article, fascinating and very thorough!

Thanks Kathleen for you comments - highly valued!

Great info

Hi there Colin, an interesting article. There is a huge question mark in my head for many years... How about when someone dreamt of a certain person for more than 20 years ever since childhood, and that person actually grows up from a kiddo to an adult in the dreams... with a lapse of lost contacting with each other the whole dreaming duration of 20+ years... And the mysterious part was that, when they got in touch again after so many years, that person in the dreams actually grew to look exactly the same in real life!! How could that be possible?