Dreaming differs from person to person. Some people dream in color and others in black and white. Some of us barely remember ever dreaming, some regularly recall slumber stories, and others savour the thrills of lucidity while dreaming.
The concept of lucid dreaming suggests that we're able to reach a higher level of awareness, allowing us to steer our dreams. Does this mean we can control our dreams? Why do we dream? Can dreaming, lucid or not, impact our health?
At Bearaby we’re big on all things sleep so we went ahead and investigated the inner workings of that intricate mental space called dreamland.
Dreams Love REM sleep
The connection between dreaming and rapid eye movement (commonly referred to as REM) sleep is well-recognized. Sleep research suggests that even though dreaming isn't necessarily limited to this stage of our sleep cycle, it occurs most vividly when we reach REM sleep.
REM sleep usually occurs anywhere between one and a half to two hours after falling asleep. At this point in our sleep cycle, our minds might be dreaming but there’s a lot going on physiologically.
As the name suggests, our eyes are moving rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids, blood pressure and heart rate increases and our limbs are temporarily paralyzed. REM sleep initially lasts only about 10 minutes but can last up to an hour as our bodies complete more sleep cycles.
Why REM Sleep Is Important To Our Health
The purpose of REM sleep is a topic that elicits a great deal of discussion among sleep experts and scientists alike. A range of theories exist on possible functions of REM sleep, but the most widely accepted are that it’s a crucially restorative stage where memories are consolidated.
During REM sleep our brain balances itself to restore, and help maintain, its normal chemistry. Getting enough REM sleep is pivotal to waking up refreshed and ultimately an integral part of our overall health.
It’s worthwhile to mention recent findings that cognitive processes like memory consolidation happen optimally when we’re also getting enough non-REM sleep. These ideas affirm the importance of uninterrupted sleep.
Putting all this sleep science together in simple terms means that good quality sleep warrants two things: drifting smoothly between lighter (non-REM) and deep (REM) stages of sleep during the course of the night, and spending enough time in dream-filled REM sleep.
We actually dream much more often than we might know. It’s normal to not always have a clear recollection of what we dreamt, or even remember dreaming at all, but most people dream anywhere from four to six times each night.
Are Dreams Important?
We know that we dream each night, but why we dream is yet to be determined. One school of thought is that we dream to help us process emotions. Not surprising then that dreaming is often linked to our mental health.
A phenomenon with a similar connection between maintaining mental health and dreaming, is lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming has real-world applications as an effective tool in the treatment of emotional trauma linked to PTSD and recurring nightmares.
Lucid dreaming also sets the stage for tapping into a mental space where creativity and problem-solving tend to thrive. Salvador Dali and Nikola Tesla are some of the world’s well-known lucid dreamers.
So what happens during this enigmatic and seemingly useful state of lucid dreaming? Are we in control of our dreams when we’re lucid dreaming? Not entirely. Let’s browse the basics of lucid dreaming and get to the bottom of it.
The Basics Of Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is simply explained as being aware that you’re dreaming while you’re dreaming. The lure of lucid dreaming is the notion that we can actively participate, create, and to an extent even control our dreams. This widely recognized phenomenon is sometimes also referred to as oneironautics - the practice of navigating dreams.
Lucid dreamers, or oneironauts, become aware they are in a dream and able to remain in the dreaming state without waking up.
Some widely accepted, self-guided techniques that help induce a lucid dreaming state are:
Checking your reflection in a mirror to test if it stays the same, or trying to move your hand through a solid object, can help you determine if you’re dreaming or awake.
Keeping a dream journal.
Getting in the habit of writing your dreams down as soon as you wake up to heighten your awareness of whether you’re awake...or not.
Wake Back To Bed is a visualization-meditative process of trying to enter REM sleep while remaining conscious.
Mnemonic Induction To Lucid Dreams is, at its simplest, setting a conscious intention during the day that you’ll have a lucid dream during the night.
Although you can try these methods to attempt steering your dreams, you may have to accept you’re likely not the lucid dreaming type. Most studies on the subject found that only about 50% of people experience lucid dreams and these people tend to be the self-reflective types.
Can frequent lucid dreaming reciprocate this effect? Better enable us to reflect on our way of life? Not likely. What we know for sure is that quality sleep makes us healthier and happier.
And getting great sleep doesn’t require a great deal of reflection either. Sleeping under a weighted blanket is a simple fix for ushering you into dreamland. And keeping you there for longer.
Dreams Also Love Weighted Blankets
We can’t simply control our dreams, but we can control how quickly we reach that dream-filled REM sleep stage. Are you struggling to fall asleep? Tossing and turning for what seems forever before you finally slumber into dreamland? Our Napper blanket can help.
The evenly dispersed weight of the Napper is designed to help you get more of the stuff dreams are made of - quite literally! The weighted hand-knit weaves help increase serotonin levels while decreasing cortisol levels, easing your body into the optimal state for falling asleep and reaching the dreaming state, effortlessly.
Does sleep elude you? If a good night’s rest is what you’ve been dreaming of, snuggle up under one of our cosy Nappers and prepare for some great sleep. Sweet dreams!
Can You Control Your Dreams?
We went ahead and investigated the inner workings of that intricate mental space called dreamland.
We often don’t remember our dreams and while that’s completely normal, studies show most people dream up to six times every night.
Some people experience lucid dreaming. This means they not only remember but to a certain extent control their dreams.
Dreaming occurs mostly in the REM stage of a sleep cycle, and enough REM sleep is crucial to restorative rest.
Sleeping under weight is a surefire way to reach revitalizing REM sleep quicker, and ultimately keeps us dreaming for longer.
Did you know?
When we dream time continually changes. Next time you’re not sure if you’re awake or not, try telling the time!