“One does not become enlightened by imaginary figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”
Dreams: What’s not to love?
When a new acquaintance learns that I work with dreams, they often respond with an uncomfortable laugh, and tell me that they don’t remember theirs, or they don’t want to remember theirs, because dreams, they tell me, are too bizarre, scary, or mystifying to pay much attention to. At first, I found this difficult to understand.
I’ve been remembering—and talking about—my dreams since I was 5 years old. They’ve been like a therapist, guru, life coach, and best friend. They’ve even served as my real estate agent and matchmaker, helping me find the perfect place to live, and true love.
But I I’ve come to accept that not everyone shares my view. And they have their reasons:
- The scary requirements of sleep: Dreaming requires that we sleep, which means we need to get still and quiet in the dark to get there. And as denizens of a hyper-connected culture, who like to be on the go and in control, we don’t like that.
- A vulnerable position: About 90 minutes after we fall asleep, we enter our first of several REM periods of the night. This involves having our senses muted and our bodies temporarily paralyzed. That’s a vulnerable position to be in, especially in the dark.
- A busy brain: Meanwhile, our brain is as active—or more so—than it is during the day. And with no external sensory input (let alone phones or apps), to distract us we are left to deal with the contents of our own minds: our grievances regrets, and losses, small and large, clattering around in the corners of our subconscious. Talk about scary!
- Negative at night: Plus, the dreaming brain is low on mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, and negative emotions outnumber the positive ones in most people’s dreams. Nightmares, though they account for only a small percentage of all our dreams, can be scary enough to cause some people to want to avoid sleep all together.
To dream, we must sleep
So, it’s understandable that we have trouble falling in love with the idea of going to sleep. But it’s also a shame. Because without sleep, we can’t dream. And sleeping more helps us dream better, because our REM cycles get longer as the night progresses, so our longest, most memorable and meaningful dreams usually occur toward morning.
If only we were to become literate in their language, rather than running from them, dreams could also become the incentive and the reward for getting a good 8 hours. Not only that, but working with our so-called bad dreams, and resolving the issues that arise in our recurring dreams, the ones that pop up again and again in nearly the same way each time, can pave the way to having many more positive dreams, ones that delight, dazzle, amuse, and even enlighten us.
© 2017 Tzivia Gover
Read on for more good ways to fall back in love with sleep and dreams.
If you’re ready to sleep and dream better, book a dreamwork consultation with me and I’ll help you learn to take a mindful approach to bedtime, and discover the meaning and messages in your dreams to support you all day long.
My book The Mindful Approach to a Good Night’s Sleep is chock full of information and exercises to support you in sleeping and dreaming better. And it’s now available for pre-order!