Hello again and welcome back to this Sunday’s article.
Thanks for joining.
This Sunday I want to go deep into the recesses of your mind and analyze some of your dreaming.
Dreaming tends to bring things from the subconscious to the forefront. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to examine what one dreams about. All those deep, ugly things that you try to bury throughout the day usually make an unannounced visit in your mind while you are in REM sleep. Without distractions, you are able to pinpoint things that really bother you during your dreams if you are able to recall them.
What happens when you sleep?
Before going into the subject of dreaming, it may be useful to understand what happens when you sleep.
When you go to sleep, you don’t just fall into REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep). If you did, you would be diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Sleep consists of stages in which your brain eases in and out of throughout the night. It is the timing of these stages that allows sleep doctors to make diagnosis and effectively treat patients. The most well known stage is REM sleep, however there is Non-REM sleep that is further divided into subsections. They present differently, with different variations of eye movements, brain waves, and muscle tones. Abnormalities in any of these characteristics warrants further investigation.
Dreaming typically occurs in REM sleep. Your brain is fully active, responding to your subconscious. During this stage of sleep, your muscle tones should be non-existent. Typically, you only spend about 20% of the time when sleeping in REM sleep.
Dreams may involve emotion. If unpleasant, they may disturb your sleep, causing you to wake up in a cold sweat. Emotional responses to dreams are subjective and unique to the person having the dream. If the person deems the dream is a good dream, their emotional response will be happy, content, and joyful. If a nightmare occurs, the emotional response will be anxiety, depression, or fear.
Usually, what causes a person to seek help is when dreams interfere with normal activities of daily living, such as falling asleep at the wheel of a car due to lack of sleep.
Why is evaluating our dreams important?
As stated previously, when we dream our subconscious thoughts surface. We may be able to examine these thoughts while awake to dig deep into what really is eating away at our minds.
There are circumstances in which dreams may be influenced. PTSD, or physical trauma to the brain may affect the quality of our dreams. Children often experience sleep terrors, in which they awake screaming, or jumping out of bed in fear. Certain neurological factors also influence our dreams and may contribute to sleep disorders.
Medications may also be a culprit in how you dream. There are some medications that block REM sleep, therefore not allowing the patient to gain that restful state of sleep that we so desperately need in our lives.
As previously stated, most people get help when their lack of sleep gets in the way of their life. There are instances in which dreaming causes the person to act out their dreams. This is known as REM behavior sleep disorder (RBD). If the person is unable to recall what their dream was during the time behaviors were present, then their disorder will likely be classified as parasomnias.
If dreams continue to disrupt your sleep, medical attention should be seeked. Depending on what the problem is, your doctor may refer you to a psychologist. Remember to bring a list of your medications to the doctor’s office to evaluate if the medications are causing your problems.
Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.