For the last 2 days I’ve have been bugging myself to try and remember the 2 ideas I had for blog post entries. I thought of them and was immediately excited about writing the posts, and prompted myself to remember them, so I could compose them whilst I commuted into work. I got on the train and promptly forgot the subjects and their contents and now it is driving me mad. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
It’s like having a dream. A great epic dream and waking up and thinking “I should remember that cause then I can continue it tonight!” Not that I think of my dreams as films or a tv series as such (ok, well sometimes I do, but that’s only because they are so real!)
So it got me thinking about dreams and why some are seem so real and why you can remember some dreams but not others. It’s facinating to read (most of it anyway).
By no means have I done any scientific work on this, in fact my scientific experience goes as far as looking a lichen on tombstones and writing a report on them (I got a B) when I was 16. This is just me reading some stuff from various online research sites/papers and relaying it in layman (mine mostly) terms.
It seems that when you’re asleep, you go through 5 stages of sleep patterns, the 5th stage being REM (not the band, although that’d be awesome), anyway. So when your body goes into REM state, the activity going on in your brain is similar to the activity that you would expect to see happening in the brain when someone is awake (unless you have extra magnetic eyes, then you need an EEG to see brain activity). So when you are dreaming, it is extremely likely that you are in the REM stages of sleep. Dreams during the REM stages are more likely to be vivid and realistic. You can have dreams during the other 4 stages of sleep cycle, but chances are that dreams that occur then are less realistic and memorable.
Did you know that if you are awakened whilst having a dream during the REM cycle, you are more likely to remember your dream? Chances are that you dream several dreams each night, throughout each stage of sleep, which answers the question “why do I remember some dreams and not others”.
How much do you know about REM sleep? If you’re like me, then probably not a whole lot. If you’re like some sort of Neuro-dream-sleep doctor person, then you probably wrote several papers on it during your time at college. In which case, please feel free to leave me a comment correcting any of my layman explanations and understanding (seriously, cause this stuff facinates me!)
So, REM sleep. Where was I. Yes, when you are in REM your body makes loads of changes. Your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes quicker and less deep, your blood pressure increases and your body can’t regulate your body temperature as well as it normally does. When you enter REM sleep your brain also releases a chemical (Glycine) which sends a message to the rest of your body to basically stop. In essence you are basically paralysed. In one way it could be your bodies way of making sure you don’t act out your dreams. But what about those people who sleep walk or act out part of their dreams? Does that mean their brains during the REM cycle don’t produce this chemical, or don’t produce enough of it? My god-mothers husband is renouned for acting out his dreams and she often wakes up covered in bruises. He once kept pulling her arm and shouting “we need to go walk the Llamas”.
Dreams and the Brain are such an interesting topic. I really might have to do some research and buy a really good book on the topic. If anyone has any recommendations then I’d love to hear them!
Did you know that most dreams range from between 5 and 20 minutes and during a typical life time we spend about 6 years dreaming? Most of my dreams are like a saga, covering weeks! Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could record your dreams and play them back. Imagine the creativity that the world would be exposed to! Imagine the madness!
What about recurring dreams? Why do they happen? Whats going on in your subconcious that you can have the same dream over and over? What about the meaning behind your dreams?
I think I’ve managed to come up with way more questions than I’ve actually answered. But I guess it will make for interesting reading.
Tell me about your recurring dreams, or in fact any dream related tale that you may have.
I’m quite looking forward to bedtime this evening, who knows where my imagination will travel to on a unicorn made out of brain waves.