Click to listen to the audio…
Dreamless sleep another pandemic
Sleep is a cornerstone of health. I know you know this, but what you might not realize, is there is sleep and there is sleep.
A night of sleep is a complex biological cycle…
You flit through different types and stages of sleep, as you proceed throughout the night. At a very basic level there are two kinds of sleep
REM and non-REM
The REM, is a reference to what your eyes are doing…
REM sleep unplugged
REM stands for rapid eye movement, this accurately describes what your eyes are up to. They are bolting around like crazy. Fortunately, this is not OBVIOUS, because your eye lids are closed. In non-REM sleep, your eyes barely move…..
But, you’re quite capable of tossing and turning in the bed.
Movement is absent, during REM sleep, because the body is largely disconnected from the brain, this arrangement, effectively leaves the body paralyzed. The brain, is definitely NOT PARALYZED, in fact, your brain activity, in REM sleep, is pretty close to that of what it would be, if you were awake.
The other notable thing about REM sleep, is this is the stage, most associated with dreaming.
Most, not exclusively…
Now………… when WE worry about, not getting ENOUGH sleep, for the most part, no one really worries about whether you are REMMing or non-REMming.
SLEEP is the objective.
But, it shouldn’t be.
REM sleep is special
It like many things, is what helps to make us human.
If we compare how much REM sleep we experience with our relatives, it’s clear………….humans are REM sleepers. Anthropologists think changes in sleeping patterns and arrangements, made us human.
Odds are it’s important for our biology………
More REM sleep THE advantage
Current research suggests REM sleep is particularly important for
- Immune function
- Memory consolidation
- Mood regulation
And, it is key to trans-personal, religious and spiritual experiences, because, REM sleep is when most dreaming happens.
NOTE : These are the things that make us HUMAN.
Which brings us back to the current state of affairs…..
Sleep deprived versus dream deprived
Stats already suggest, modern humans are sleep deprived…….
We’re often too busy and/or too distracted, to sleep.
Now anyone who is sleep deprived, is dream deprived.
But, even if you’re getting your full allotment of sleep, each night – you could still be dream deprived.
When the cycle is shorter
As I mentioned earlier, a night’s sleep is a cycle.
Now you do cycle through REM and non-REM, throughout the night. But, the brain prioritizes the non-REM sleep, so early in the night, the duration of REM sleep is shorter. As the night progresses, and the non-REM quota has been taken care of…………the length of the REM sleep, gets longer and longer.
So the sleep “late in the night” maximizes it’s levels.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re shrinking REM sleep, to a greater degree, than non-REM sleep.
So GET ENOUGH SLEEP !
But watch how you do it………..
Sleep aids cut REM sleep
Ironically, many of the sleep aids, that the sleepless reach for, change the balance between REM and non-REM sleep.
Alcohol and cannabis, both help you fall asleep faster, but they end up, suppressing REM sleep.
This problem, is not confined to the so called more “natural” sleep aids, sleeping pills, do the exact same thing………….. they increase the level of light sleep, at the expense of deep sleep. Eish !
Other meds, can compromise REM sleep too.
The list of problem meds is a LONG ONE. But, two classes of meds, warrant a special mention.
Anti-cholinergic drugs are widely prescribed, for a variety of conditions, including COPD, overactive bladder, GIT disorders etc.
To produce all their benefits, they oppose the cholinergic system.
i.e. they decrease the levels of acetylcholine.
Unfortunately, acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that makes REM sleep happen……… so one of the side effects of taking this family of drugs, is the dream movie theatre, has trouble operating.
Now, acetylcholine runs the show………….
By inhibiting adrenergic and serotonergic activity.
Anti-depressants help lift depression..
by bumping up the levels of…. serotonin and norepinephrine.
So when someone is taking an anti-depressant, the guys, responsible for running non-REM sleep, have a distinct advantage.
This plays out, with less dream movie showings, during the night.
NOTE : It’s actually considered to be a good thing. Dreaming is often considered to be MESSY, so the absence of dreams, is seen as a benefit of the therapy.
Maybe it is. Maybe it’s NOT !
Dreams are the language of God
So you want them…………..
Since they are an innate, natural process – getting your dreams BACK, depends on identifying and eliminating the factors, that are inhibiting their natural flow.
Start by, optimizing your sleep as much as possible. And go easy on those sleep aids.
NOTE: If you’re struggling to sleep, it’s a body chemistry issue, work at correcting this. Click here for ideas and strategies, that might help.
Respect your dreams
In by gone times, dreams were revered – they were discussed, shared and remembered. When appropriate, they were acted upon.
We live in a culture, that for the most part, dismisses dreams as the ramblings of neurophysiology or a party trick, to interpret using a dream dictionary . They’re more than that…
They’re contributing to your neurological health.
By, deliberately slowing your breathing rate, before you fall asleep, you unseat the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the odds…….you head into dreamland
If you want to have sweet dreams, set yourself up by ensuring your brain receives only pleasant odours during the night.
If you think a newborn baby IS a sleep disrupting machine, without an OFF button, think again…….