Dreams have always fascinated me. It’s a fascination that comes with a lot of caution though. While dreams are fascinating to me, I can’t say I have great experience with it. My dreams are rarely positive, rarely neutral. I know, that sounds super sad, but it’s not. If anything, it adds to the fascination. It’s strange in comparison to real life where I generally am positive, other than battles with daily anxiety, I keep things light and chipper.
Maybe I just don’t remember any of the happier or neutral ones. 9/10 dreams I have are scary, whether that’s the nightmare type of scary, or the true life type of scary, to the feeling of doom type of scary. The thing is, they are things that can happen in real life, not like monsters or totally out-of-pocket events. Until recently, maybe 75% of the time, I’d realize it was a dream as it got to the most stressful point and as I try to fight myself awake, sleep paralysis would set in and I’d get stuck in a cycle of dreaming that I’d wake myself up over and over maybe half a dozen cycles before actually waking up. It’s a trip, and ever more crazy that it’s become my normal.
I’ve been doing daily and nightly sessions of mindful meditation. I just started about two weeks ago. It’s nothing fancy – I’m a novice at it, so taking it slow. I’m doing it by way of an app called Simple Habits (which if you’re interested in starting it yourself, I highly recommend. It came out the winner after doing trial runs with Headspace and Calm as well). I’ve been doing 10-minute sessions every night before bed. I’m not sure if it’s related or not, but I’d say I’ve had a dream that I can remember 4-5 nights per week, and they’re not the good dreams.
I know – it sounds like you should stop meditating before bed. It’s a weird trade-off – I do feel like I drift off easier (for those that know me – I no longer partake in marijuana before bed, so going to sleep in general has been a battle for the last few months), and I feel my sleep has been deeper. In general, I’d honestly say that the quality of my sleep has at least been better – I have the data from my Garmin Vivoactive HR to somewhat back me up. It tracks my heart rate through the night in 1-minute pings, in addition to my sleep from light to deep and moments of awake-ness. So given that information, I don’t want to give it up just yet. Good sleep is hard to come by for me in general.
But these dreams.
It’s crazy how the brain works, right? Even in your sleep, it’s in control, it’s functioning – it has this unconscious unruliness that just goes off into avenues that to this day, 2017, are as generally unexplainable as it was decades ago, same as it was decades before that. It has no boundaries, it’s completely uncontrolled and free from my own consciousness. Totally far-removed from my real life where everything has order, everything (possible) has a reason, a place, a time. What makes us dreams – and the million-dollar question: why? Why do we dream what we do when we do?
The first night I tried a bedtime session, I had a horrible nightmare. I don’t care to go into details, but it was so vivid and seemed so real. The people in it were the ones closest to me, and there was a lot of angry rage emitting from so many of them. I remember the feeling of fear the most – just complete, brutally painful fear. Even as the dream escalated, the violence escalated, I stayed asleep. I didn’t once realize it was a dream until I heard Tyson call out for me that woke me up.
As I laid with him to comfort him back to sleep, I remembered (what seemed like) the whole dream. I remembered the fear, the rage, the absolutely vivid images, the facial expressions, the physical pain. What causes that?
I later checked out my sleep cycle and heart rates for that night. I woke up at 02:15, which as I remember, was when I, in my dream, started feeling that desperation panic.. Where I started feeling the this is it feeling, the this isn’t a dream feeling, I’m doomed feeling. More interesting to see than anything, but my heart rate went from 52BPM to 90BPM from 02:10-02:14. For the record, I believe that’s the time my dad, in the dream, sliced my hand open with a huge knife, almost like a smaller machete. Yeah, crazy. It plummeted right back down to 66BPM four minutes later. It’s so interesting to see how my body physically reacts, even unconsciously in my sleep, to the shenanigans of my brain.
I feel like I deviated from the original focus of this post.
It’s 05:30 on Sunday and just had to get the thoughts out. Now, going to try to get my brain off and squeeze in some more sleep before the little one wakes up. Have a wonderful Sunday and happy MLK day tomorrow!