Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tryptophanic Dreams

Happy Thanksgiving !

         Many of us in the United States are going to be eating a lot of turkey for Thanksgiving.  In fact we're going to be probably eating a lot of turkey and other foods over the upcoming month or so as we engage in holiday festivities and visits with friends and relatives.

         And after a festive holiday feast what could be more inviting than a nice nap.  The phenomenon of sleepiness after eating a big turkey dinner is often attributed to a high level of the amino acid known a tryptophan.  Once ingested, tryptophan converts into a chemical known as serotonin which contributes to our sense of well-being and happiness.  This feeling allows for a greater inclination for a restful, peaceful sleep including the stimulation of dreams.

       In reality our being overcome by drowsiness is probably more caused by the carbohydrates that we have ingested in the form of potatoes, stuffing, desserts, and other foods that are sugary or convert to sugars once digested.  The tryptophan certainly aids in causing us to become sleepy, but is not the real culprit.

        We should eat a properly balanced diet on a daily basis and get adequate exercise.  However on Thanksgiving there's nothing much better to me than piling my plate with plenty of turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, a decent dose of vegetables, and a lot of stuffing.

        Personally, I love oyster dressing and always make a small casserole dish of it for me and whoever else wants it.  For the majority of our crowd though, I make a tasty fruit and sausage dressing that everyone raves about.  It's a carb laden dish that's sure to put anyone into a relaxed stupor after eating a few helpings.

        As I grow older, I tend not to eat as much as I used to, even on Thanksgiving.  Also, there may be something to my mother's claim that after cooking all morning one doesn't feel quite as hungry once dinner is served.   A little test nibbling now and then during the preparation also has something to do with it I'm sure.

         Having wakened early to start the meal and then filling up on carbs and the tryptophan in the turkey, I'm always receptive to a nap on Thanksgiving.   After all, I think I deserve it.  While my wife's family visits, watches television, plays games, and eats more, I usually head upstairs for a brief nap.  And I know I'm not the only one.  I've caught a few of the others dozing now and then on the couch or in one of the other bedrooms.  It's all good.  It's a holiday.

        So next time you're having a feast, remember it's the carbs that cast the spell of drowsiness over you.  Eat hearty and enjoy the good food and family time.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving and sweet tryptophanic dreams.   The serotonin will make you feel better.

          Do you usually take a nap after your Thanksgiving dinner?  Have you ever taken tryptophan or serotonin supplements?  Where do you go for Thanksgiving?   


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Leaf Blower Man

Art by Ada Zdanowicz at CollagePodge
            In a recent post I discussed how my dreams usually do not seem to take place at an identifiable time of day.  Here is a dream that I had a few days after that post appeared on A Faraway View.

          Keep in mind that I had recently attended BlogWorld at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  I had also recently taken a trip to Tennessee, where the autumn leaves were falling and I had been thinking about using a leaf blower to round up some of the leaves in my mother's yard.  During that trip I had helped my sister move from Phoenix, driving a rental truck with her household goods and staying in motels along the way.

         This is what I recall of a dream on Sunday morning November 6, 2011:

         Many things happen early on in the dream-- some related to BlogWorld and people I know.  At one point I am staying in a motel or apartment complex.  I have a room there, but I go to visit an old friend from Tennessee who also has a room at the same place.  

         Apparently it is getting late and I don't want to return to my room.  My friend invites me to stay in his room.  I accept the offer but then am concerned when I see there is only one bed.  I begin to find a reason to leave.  

         At this point the man in the room is no longer my old friend, but a guy that I met at BlogWorld.  My wife is now with me and there are two rooms with one bed in each.  My wife and I go to bed at which point I start to make amorous advances toward her.  She says that I should have told her earlier that I wanted to engage in this activity.

          I suddenly realize that I've left a briefcase containing a great deal of money in my van that is in the parking lot.  I jump out of bed and go outside to find my van.   

          It is dark outside--a strange gray black charcoal darkness that does not necessarily look like night, but I assume it is since I had previously started to go to bed.  As I reach the sidewalk from a walkway which leads to the door of the room, I see to my right in the dim light a man with a leaf blower.  He is about fifty feet from where I am and operating the leaf blower.

         I go to my left where there are bushes and vegetation along walk.  The walkway looks dark and foreboding.  As I am walking I fall down to my right onto the grass.  As I lay there some unseen thing seems to fall upon me and make me feel trapped so that I cannot extricate myself.  I call out "help help", hoping that someone, perhaps the leaf blower man, will hear me and rescue me.  No one comes to help.  I panic and I begin screaming loudly. 

        My audible screams wake me up.   My wife is startled by my screams and in her concern asks me what is wrong.  I am troubled for a while as I reflect upon this dream.   In my vexed state I cannot sleep anymore. Since it is nearly time to get up anyway, I go into my writing office and record the dream for this blog post.

         I rarely have dreams that upset me to the extent that I wake up screaming or in some state of intense fright.  In most cases I calmly awaken from a dream in a reflective state of mind.   Nearly every time I have awoken feeling as I did with this dream it is due to a feeling of being trapped or confined to a tight space.

         Could the dream be affected by a physical event going on within me?   Is there something that I am extremely worried about that is symbolized by the feeling in these dreams?   Have you had a dream such as this?    Do characters in your dreams sometimes start out as one person and then transform into another?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Poetess Yvonne Lewis Visits

         Today we have a guest post by Yvonne Lewis from Welcome to My World of Poetry.  The spider artwork is by Ada Zdanowicz.   

"Spider" by Ada Zdanowicz


All around the house is jet black night,
It steals through the window pane.
My head touches my welcoming pillow,
And off to the land of dreams again.

My family know of my nightmare.
It happened many years ago.
I have an irrational fear,
That many have I know.

You see I detest spiders.
I've been told they'll do no harm.
But the speed they run across the floor.
Dosen't add to their cunning charm.

How well I remember the night.
I lay peacefully asleep.
One dropped from above my bed.
On my body it did leap.

It's a nightmare I re-live.
Over and over again.
I scour the floor and ceiling,
To ensure it dosen't occur again.

It's  become a nightly ritual,
Especially now I live on my own.
I know they're good for something.
But I wish they would leave me alone.

Copyright Yvonne Lewis:

        Thank you Yvonne!  And remember to visit Yvonne's blog to say hello.   You too can have a guest spot on my blog.  Just let me know and we'll set it up.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

Art by Ada

           Have you ever noticed what time of day it is in your dreams?   Is the time setting even identifiable as an actual time of day or is in a twilight zone of dream time?

            I can recall a few dreams which I know were nighttime settings.  For one thing it was dark.  Also there was some factor that indicated to me that it was night.   These dreams always have to do with something frightening or ominous.

           In the night dreams I can often see something awful happening in the distance.  There are lights in distant buildings that tell me that it is night.  Sometimes the setting seems to be during a time of war and other settings seem to be usually a vague disaster or crime.  Though I feel a sense of dread or even a fear, I am not terrified to extent of waking up.  The feeling is more like one that I might have while really getting into a scary movie and suspending all disbelief to the extreme.  It's an almost theatrical fear bordering the edge of the real thing.

           The majority of my dreams seem to be occurring in a sort of daytime setting.  I don't recall ever actually seeing the sun or even the day time sky in these dreams.  In a sense these dreams seem to take place indoors on a movie sound stage.  In fact my dreams are almost like movies--movies that make little logical sense.  But they hold my interest and are usually rather entertaining.

          Night?  Day?  Some ambiguous undefinable dream time?  Does it matter which?  I wonder if there is any significance when the time is identifiable or specified.   Unless the time setting has a specific bearing upon the dream story, I don't think the time means anything in particular.

          In a dream I may find that I'm late for something, but I don't ever recall knowing what time it is during the dream or what time I'm supposed to be somewhere.  The time itself never seems to have any importance, only the dream activity.  The state of being late, the anxiety of trying to get somewhere on time seems to be the main factor of the dream.  Feelings seem to trump specific details.

           Since dreams for the most part do not rely on any tangible fact or accuracy of time and space then the dream state is probably more a sensate realm of feeling and emotions.  The visual aspect of dreaming is merely symbolic cuing triggered by those feelings, releasing memories of our experiences and the perceptions of things we know.

            Do you usually associate your dreams with any particular time of day?   Do you find "dream nighttime" to be frightening?   Is the concept of light or dark noticeable in your dreams?