Thursday, February 13, 2014

Does More Sleep Mean More Dreams?

Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brothe...
Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, an 1874 painting by John William Waterhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         During my recent periods of feeling a bit under the weather, I found myself sleeping much longer than normal.  One Saturday evening I went to bed earlier than normal and the next morning lingered in bed later then I typically would have.  Since I was intending on going to church on Sunday morning, I got up and had some breakfast.  Upon returning upstairs to the bedroom I noticed that my wife had returned to bed and appeared to be dozing.  Still feeling rather poorly, I too got into bed and realized that I needed more rest.  I told my wife that I was not up to going to church and then went back into a sporadic sleep that lasted until after noon.

         And so it was on several days.   Sometimes I would sleep in later than usual while on other days I would take prolonged naps late in the morning or early in the afternoon.   But did I dream?   Most of the time I couldn't remember my dreams or they were very ambiguous.  Then other times I would have seemingly long dreams that were broken by occasional awakenings but continue after I returned to sleep.

         I don't think that more sleep necessarily means that I have more dreams.  It's probably a function of how poorly I feel or the nature of any medication I'm taking.  Also the dreams are possibly less "story" oriented and more sensory relating to any pains I might be feeling or the discomfort of the symptoms of illness.  Sensory dreams--that is dreams that are essentially colors, shadows, lingering images or feelings, and the like--are less likely to be remembered since there is nothing tangible to latch onto such as characters, settings, or story-lines.

         Sleep is undoubtedly always accompanied by subconscious activity at certain points.  More lengthy periods of sleep should in most cases have the same ratio of idle brain activity to dreaming activity as during shorter periods of sleep.  The fact that there are typically more dreams spread over a lengthier period of time, those dreams are pushed into the recesses of the mind making them more difficult to recall.

         Do you dream more when you are sick?    During times of illness do you remember your dreams more or less?   When you are well do you sometimes sleep longer because you want to keep dreaming?     

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  1. I often find myself trying to climb back into my dreamworld but everything starts to fade so fast till I can't remember it at all. Then I realize that I'm now awake, and if it's starting to get light out, I lay there struggling with, 'should I just get up? should i go back to sleep? should I let the dogs out and then go back to bed?' This results in my just getting up and starting my day.

  2. While I typically either do not dream (or simply don't remember the dreams I have), one exception is when I am sick.

    The dreama vary, and my memory of them is always vague, except for the fact that in the dream some injury happens to my back. My back seems to tighten up significantly overnight whenever I am sick.

    Odd. But then, I am an odd person!



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