Dreaming

by: Regenia G. Butcher

It will be several hours until the alarm buzzes, but suddenly a man bolts up to a near-sitting position in bed. The room is peaceful, yet he’s terrified, and can’t immediately reason why. Then, after convincing himself that all’s calm and he’s safe, he begins to unravel a few details of what has just scared him awake.

Another alarm sounds and a woman shuts it off, pulls the covers over her head and tries desperately to return to what was so abruptly interrupted. There were flowers and a blue sky. She was sixteen and size eight again.

In another house, a five year old runs into her parent’s bedroom, waking them at 2.00 a.m. because she woke up to find a monster sitting on her lampshade.

Dreams can be convincing. They can be prophetic. They can also be elusive. Some people swear they never have them, while others have almost total recall of a great number of them. Some people can even get totally engrossed in a semi-dream state during the day.

Researchers have a variety of theories explaining the phenomenon of dreaming. Some say that dreams help us get back in touch with our inner individual self. This is reinforced whenever we’re confronted with a problem that hasn’t been solved by the end of the day and we’re told to “sleep on it,” as if the answer is going to somehow sashay to the surface later in the night.

Another theory is that dreaming is our mind’s way of cleaning the clutter from our mental computer so we can retain the more important stuff. This might explain why we wake up tired…we’ve simply swept our brains too much during the night. Often, students study directly before going to sleep, thinking that the information will be more easily retained and recalled the next day.

Yet another theory for dreaming is that it helps us understand what we’ve seen, felt and experienced, in somewhat of an information assimilation process. That it acts as our own personal housekeeper and file clerk.

Apparently, we’re all quite active during sleep time. Scientists say that we sleep each night in 4 or 5, ninety-minute stages. It is during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage that we do our best dreaming. We have a dream segment approximately every 90 minutes. Usually though, we won’t remember any of them unless we’ve been interrupted and awakened while they were happening.

It seems that if you’ve mastered the art of “lucid dreaming” you can control the conversation and action and pretty much have things your way. As of yet though, I’ve never been able to do that, asleep or awake.

There are many dream interpretation books available, but chances are you know someone who immediately explains your dream by saying, “Well, you obviously must have been thinking about it sometime that day.” (“Yes, Aunt Clarese, I was thinking about a barking bat taking off with my blow dryer earlier at lunch today.”)

Certain circumstances can affect the type of dreams we have. Eating food a short time before going to sleep can pave the way for some unique experiences. Or watching a scary movie can increase the odds that you’ll have a scary dream that night. Stress and worry can also affect our dreams.

I guess I don’t mind entering the somewhat fantasy world of a dream, as long as there are no ten foot tap-dancing artichokes yelling advice and trying to sell me a condo on the beach. But forget them or recall them, ignore them or try to interpret them…dreams are a part of our life and it’s for our benefit that they’re going to continue to be.

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