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What Dreams May Come

I don’t know if it’s because I’m back to working on the Dream Weaver series, but I’ve been paying more attention to my dreams.  I’ve always dreamed a lot.  I can dream some really bizarre dreams, but the most common is finding new rooms in my house and wondering why I never use them.  What’s struck me recently, though, is the feelings the dreams leave me with.

Dream researchers say that the dreams you remember are the ones that you wake up from.  Recently, I haven’t been able to remember what I was dreaming, but boy… the emotions.  I’ve woken up recently feeling “all the feels.”  I’m not an emotional person, typically, but these feelings that the dreams are leaving are intense.  I’ve woken up feeling sad or wistful or poignant.  I know that’s not a good adjective to use there, but that was the essence of the feeling.  It’s weird, because I don’t remember the dream that left me feeling this way — and I’m waking up in a mood. It’s the first thing in the morning.  I don’t want to wake up sad.

Fortunately, the feelings tend to go away quickly. My most common problem with sleep has always been insomnia. So I’m dreaming things that touch on my feelings.  I can’t complain. At least I’m sleeping.

Have you ever experienced this?  Do you remember your dreams?  Or am I just becoming a big old softy?

Dream Themes & Contest Winner

Earlier this year’s, I blogged about the most common dream themes and what they’re thought to mean.  I just took a poll with my newsletter giveaway contest to see how these themes stacked up.  Out of 185 participants, here are the results:

  1. Being chased – 30%  [Avoidance, need to face a problem, drive or ambition (for chaser)]
  2. Falling – 23%  [Red flag for major problems at work or relationships]
  3. Showing up late – 15% [Being overwhelmed, doing too much]
  4. Flying – 9%  [Out of control situation, sign to let go, new perspective, freedom]
  5. Cheating – 5%  [Lack of trust in romantic relationship, compromised beliefs or integrity]
  6. Death – 5%  [A wish to terminate a job or a relationship, a wish to start something new]
  7. Test-taking – 4%  [Work stress, being scrutinized, anxiety]
  8. Teeth – 4%  [Vanity, powerlessness, deception]
  9. Snakes – 3%  Fear of the unknown, hidden threats, sexual temptation, transformation]
  10. Showing up to work/school naked – 2%  [Vulnerability, anxiety, fear of being exposed]

Fascinating stuff there!

Also, congratulations to BethAnn for winning the Dreamer Light-Show Projector.

 

Sleepwalking

I learned a lot about sleepwalking when I was doing the research for Dream Walker.  Sleepwalking is a fascinating sleep disorder in which people carry out complex behaviors while still in the deepest part of the sleep cycle.  Sleepwalkers’ eyes are often open, and they can even speak with you.  The next morning, though, they’ll carry no memory of their actions.  Sleepwalking can be harmless if sleepers are in a familiar environment, but their behavior can be dangerous to others or themselves if not addressed.

Here are ten things I learned:

  1. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleepwalking occurs in 1-15% of the population.
  2. Sleepwalking is more common in children and can run in families.
  3. Waking a sleepwalker can lead to confusion and anger, but you should gently guide a sleepwalker back to bed.
  4. Sleepwalking is not someone acting out their dreams.  If the behavior happens early in the night, during deep sleep, it’s typically sleepwalking.  If it happens later, during the dream state, it can be REM behavior disorder (RBD).  That’s when people act out their dreams.
  5. Sleepwalking can be triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, or anything that can cause you to wake up more easily.
  6. Sleepwalkers often find bruises that they can’t remember getting, because they run into things while walking in their sleep.  They often take care to close drawers, push in chairs, or tuck away things over which they might trip.
  7. People don’t just sleepwalk.  There have been cases of sleep driving, sleep texting, sleep sex, and other really complex behaviors.
  8. People who live alone might not even know they sleepwalk, unless they wake up during the middle of it or find evidence of their nightly actions.
  9. There is no treatment for sleepwalking, other than getting better sleep.  Sleep medications like Ambien have even been known to exacerbate sleepwalking.
  10. One trick sleepwalkers use is to tie a bell to their door to wake them or others if they try to leave the room.

This piece by the Today Show has a lot of good information on the sleep disorder.  Have you ever sleepwalked?

Aromatherapy for Sleep

dreamstimefree_208820It seems everyone has sleep problems these days.  Whether caused by medical problems, stress, a poor sleep environment or other factors, the effects on daytime mental and physical performance are significant.  Commercials seem to pop up every evening for pills to help one sleep.  These tend to address the effects of sleeplessness, but some homeopathic practitioners suggest targeting the source.  They recommend using scent to sooth and reduce stress.  Try the following essential oils and see if it helps your night’s rest:

  • Lavender – add a drop or two to your pillow
  • Vetiver – add a drop or two to a warm bath
  • Sandalwood – place a drop on your wrist and massage it in
  • Marjoram – a massage oil that’s known for its calming effects

If you are having persistent sleep problems, it’s best to see your doctor.

Sleep 101

dreamstimefree_219000I’ve learned a lot about sleep through my research for the Dream Weaver series.  If you’re having trouble sleeping, try some of the following tips:

  • Make your bedroom a place for sleep only (and that other thing adults like to do and erotic romance authors tend to write about).  Televisions, radios, and work keep the mind going.  The goal is to turn the brain off and let it relax.
  • Reading in bed is a special case.  Some people read to relax.  Others like me tend to get caught up in the story and will read into the wee hours to see how a story plays out.  You know which you are, so be aware of your habits.
  • Make sure everything is comfortable for you:  the mattress, your pillow, and the temperature .  A room that’s too warm will keep you awake.  Cooler temperatures tend to encourage sleep, but you don’t want your teeth to clatter!
  • Watch your intake of caffeine.  Try not to drink caffeinated beverages after dinner.  It’s a more powerful drug than you think.
  • Likewise, exercise earlier in the day.  Once the blood gets pumping and the body gets revved, it’s hard to slow it down to a complete stop.
  • Try to relax an hour or so before going to bed.  We all have a million things to do, but if you keep going full bore sleep will elude you.  Most people can’t turn a switch and go to sleep.  You must prepare the mind and the body.
  • Sometimes, the body is ready for sleep, but the mind isn’t.  If your mind is racing try different techniques to slow it down.  Concentrate on relaxing one part of the body at a time.  Focus on a peaceful scene and bring your thoughts back to this place when they start to wander.  This can be the hardest step in letting sleep take over.
  • Finally, if your sleep problems persist, see your doctor.  Sleep deprivation is rampant in our fast-paced, non-stop world.  It can make your reflexes slower and your thoughts hazy.  It can cause persistent headaches, make you gain weight, and many other bad things.  Get help when you need it!

Sleep Chart

zeo_night_detail(1)When I first came up with the idea for the Dream Weavers, I did a lot of research into sleep.  It’s something we all do every night, but it’s amazing how little researchers know about sleep and dreams.  One thing that has been proven is that we go through sleep cycles when we’re sleeping.  The subject was so interesting, I bought a Zeo sleep monitor.  I’ve never been a great sleeper, so I wanted to check out what was going on.   I monitored my sleep recently, and you can the different stages that I went through over the course of the night.

The image I was able to download on the left didn’t show everything.  Here are the full details:
Total sleep = 7:11(7 hours, 11 minutes)
REM sleep (dreaming stage) = 1:37
Light sleep = 4:39
Deep sleep = 0:55
Awake = 0:10
Woken = 1 time
Time to fall asleep = 0:15
Overall score = 79 (out of 100)

Unfortunately, Zeo has since gone out of business.  To my knowledge, there’s nothing else like it on the market.  The current fitness monitors that claim to measure sleep really only sense how much you move during your sleep.  Totally different.

Sleeptexting

I’ve done a lot of research into sleeping and dreaming while working on the Dream Weavers series.  I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles, and this one definitely caught my eye.  The article in The Atlantic is already two years old, but, apparently, there’s a new parasomnia (sleep disorder) — sleeptexting.  Seen mainly in the younger generation, people are actually sending texts while they sleep.  And they’re not all gibberish.  People are sending out messages, although they don’t always make sense or go to the right people.  Can you imagine?

I only remember sleepwalking once when I was a teenager.  I woke up in the basement — and I never, ever went to the basement after dark.  Fortunately, it was a one-time incident.  Have you ever suffered from sleepwalking? Ever sleeptexted someone?