Friday, November 12, 2010

Dreams and dreaming

Who isn't fascinated by their dreams? I know I'm interested in my own and so I assume that other people are interested in their own as well, although they may not be quite so interested in other people's dreams. How many of you have started to tell somebody else about a crazy dream and watched that other person's eyes kind of glaze over? Just me?

Well, I love to think about my dreams, anyway, at least most of the time, and I love to watch or read about things that will help me understand those dreams.

So imagine how excited I was to watch this documentary by Nova called What are Dreams? about dreaming, dream interpretation, sleep stages - there are now three instead of four - and more. The documentary discusses a lot of very interesting dream research going on, like the guy who can see what rats are dreaming, but what caught my attention was something new: people dream during non-REM sleep.

For all this time I thought that people only dreamed during REM sleep. I had no idea that dreams occurred during other sleep stages. Non-REM sleep would explain night terrors, which is cool on its own, I guess. For me the idea of non-REM dreaming is personally interesting to me because I dream a lot while the alarm is snoozing. Seriously, I have these epic dreams in nine-minute blocks of time and I'm pretty sure that I'm not going into REM sleep then.

Moreover, these dreams share certain characteristics: I'm with a group of people I don't know in a city with which I'm unfamiliar and I'm almost always just living a life, going about normal day-to-day activities. It's like I'm living this other, secret life in these dreams when I have them and that other life stays with me throughout the day.

I know that my anti-depressant and my pain medication combine to make my dreams particularly vivid, and I wonder if these medications also contribute to non-REM dreaming. Something about the medications also suppresses the paralysis most people have during REM sleep and dreams. I move a LOT then - I don't get out of bed or anything but my hands wave and type and move around. I also talk quite often (or try to), and my legs and feet move all the time. According to the documentary, this isn't completely uncommon; many people have this problem to even more extremes, where they get out of bed and hurt their partners.

I can never learn enough about how dreams work and why people dream. This documentary has a lot of new information presented in an easy-to-understand, interesting way, so I'm happy to have watched it. If you're at all interested in dreams or dream research this is definitely a documentary you should see.

1 comment:

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

fascinating! i'm totally going to watch that documentary!

about the non-REM dreaming, i think it is a recent understanding. i literally *just* read about it in Sci Am Mind.

love,
vicki