"I began to realize that I was driving rapidly down a winding road on the side of a steep hill. Everything was bright and crystal clear. To the side was a high cliff with no guardrail. I became deeply alarmed when I realized that I didn’t know how to drive. I was only 15 and had not yet started drivers’ education! What was I doing driving and in such a dangerous place? As I increasingly realized the nightmare-like nature of my experience, I began to grasp that I was dreaming. Somehow knowing this allowed me to relax and even begin to 'direct' the dream. The car seemed to be staying close to the road without much help from me. I had the thought that I wished there was someone who could help me. Suddenly my mother was in the car driving and I was safely in the passenger-side seat. As I became increasingly comfortable I awoke. Instead of feeling like I had come out of a nightmare, I actually felt strong and was looking forward to driving classes. I also wanted to be able to … [Read more...] about Is Conscious Dreaming Real?
Friday night lights
Source: chaoss/Shutterstock As a sleep specialist, not a day goes by that I don't talk to someone about their dreams. My patients, my kids, the guy who sells me my morning coffee — everyone wants to know, “What do my dreams mean?” We’re all fascinated by dreams, and understandably so. Dreaming is a strange and mysterious process — one that we still don’t fully understand. Let’s take a closer look at the stuff of which dreams are made: 1. Why Do We Dream? The why of dreaming is one of the great mysteries of sleep. There are many theories about why dreaming happens. Some think that dreaming has no specific underlying purpose, that our dreams might be a byproduct of other things going on in the brain during sleep. But many researchers studying sleep and dreams believe there is a primary purpose to our dreams. Some theories suggest that dreams are: A way to process memory and learning, moving memories from short-term to … [Read more...] about 7 Major Questions (and Answers) About Dreaming
*This week is Brain Awareness Week: every day this week, prominent researchers from the International Association for the Study of Dreams are reviewing their work on dreaming and the brain. You can access and download their articles for free on the IASD website (link).*click here.* Our brains cycle through 4 stages during sleep, each characterized by unique patterns of brain waves—the electrical pulses generated by neurons communicating. Slower brainwaves are indicative of deep sleep or meditation or when we feel tired or sluggish, higher frequencies are prominent in alert and awake states. Researchers use Electroencephalography (EEG) to record this brain activity through electrodes placed on the scalp. Stage 1 is a very light sleep that is mixed with wake-like alpha waves (8-12 cycles per second) Stage 2 is a slightly deeper sleep with slower theta waves (5-7 cycles per second) Stage 3 is the deepest sleep and is marked by slow delta waves (0-4 cycles per … [Read more...] about Does Your Brain Wake Up When You’re Dreaming?