I’ve been fascinated and focused on dreams my entire life. Some of my earliest memories are my dreams. I was very young when I went to sleeping repeating out loud that I want to dream of monsters. It worked until I had a nightmare that one at my brother and I decided to stop programming my dreams.
In my study of psychology in college I put a lot of attention on the study of dreams and especially Carl Jung’s teachings on dreams. At one point I was keeping such a detailed dream diary that I could write 8 pages a night, so now I just record the ones that seem particularly interesting or have some sort of message.
I was impressed with the ability of the unconscious wisdom to speak through us in dreams when at at the age of 22 I was suffering from very dry hands in the winter. I had a dream my brother was waxing my first car, a red Camaro with a lotion and I asked what it was and he said “It is lanolin.” I had never consciously ever heard that word in my life. When I was in the health food store that day I asked if they had ever heard of lanolin, and they said it is was in one of their coconut moisturizers. It turns out it is a moisturizer made from boiled sheep wool.
I learned just how essential sleep was when I went though a particularly stressful time about 15 years ago where I went over a week with only getting 2 hours of sleep a night. I started having REM sleep images while awake, I was hallucinating. I had to take time off from work and get back into balance and now I really guard my sleep as being essential for my wellbeing and functioning.
Half of Americans try to get by on less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Modern research shows how dangerous this is. Adequate sleep is essential for optimal productiveness, creativity, learning and health. Dreaming which occurs during rapid eye movement or REM sleep cycle helps with creative problem solving. New information is integrated into older data and novel connections between old and new are built, allowing new solutions to emerge. We all know how college student like to pull overnighters to cram for a test. Studies have proven how the hippocampus, which downloads new memories, has its function plummet when there is lack of sleep. When the town of Edina Minnesota changed their school start times to give students an extra hour of sleep, the top 10% of SAT scorers went from about 1200 to 1500, possibly affecting their entire life trajectories.
When you upset your circadian rhythm, it cascades through your entire system. It raises blood pressure, increases your hunger hormones and cravings for carbs and junk food, throws off blood sugar, turns on genes that promote inflammation, increases stress and even promotes cancer. The natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells can hardly function. In one experiment they put cancer cells under the skin of mice. Half had normal sleep, and half were sleep deprived for over a week. The sleepless rodents had tumors many times larger than the well rested mice, and they were spreading or metastasizing around the body more.
There is something called your glymphatic system which is activated during sleep that allows your brain to clear out toxins, including the harmful proteins linked to brain disorders like Alzheimers.
Sometimes we have really negative dreams that disturb us, according to Jung, the parts of us that we suppress into the unconscious, called our shadow, can be contacted by us in sleep and then we can learn to integrate those splintered off portions of our psyche. Otherwise we tend to project our negatives onto others and blame them for our problems. But in the main, all the characters in your dreams are aspects of you, so pay attention to the characters and symbols in your dreams, it is your unconscious trying to communicate with your in the language of archetypes. Especially take note of repeating dreams, your unconscious is definitely trying to send you an urgent message.
I don’t think every dream is just parts of ourself though. I believe sometimes our soul really leaves the body at night and can get glimpses of experiences in other dimensions. I have had many patients who became pregnant and had vivid dreams of being greeted by their incoming child. In every case when this happened they correctly guessed the sex of the child and sometimes the child even told them its name. This is also true of vivid dreams of loved ones after they die, they are actually making soul contact with their souls from the afterlife. Sometimes we can even astral travel, where we find ourselves consciously outside our bodies and walk through walls. I love lucid dreaming, where you are awake in your dream and realize your are dreaming, that is usually when I start to fly or fearlessly approach any possible danger.
I also believe that our souls can go into higher or heavenly levels during sleep where we study or serve and sometimes we can bring down snippets or memories from these inner experiences. Sometimes these levels are called the etheric retreats. I think babies are still mostly in these heavenly realms at the beginning of life and that is part of the reason they have to spend so much of their time in sleep.
Sometimes there is psychic attack that seems to particularly affect us as we sleep in the middle of the night. That is when you may have nightmares of snakes, spiders, negative aliens, witchcraft or black magic, or may be fighting with some dark force. In the middle ages they even named the spirits that caused disturbing sexual dreams as a succubus or incubus. I find it helpful to pray for protection after such dreams and call to your guardian angels and to Archangel Michael, head of all the angels of protection. Visualize a blue dome above your bed or home as well.
We spend about a third of our lives in bed. Many have seen that as a waste of valuable time. But that is concept of the human ego. The soul needs a break from the discord of the outer self, and the fact that our body and mind falls apart when we skimp on sleep really tells us how essential it is to have a break from the outer world so we can enter and integrate with our inner world.
There are some sleep hygiene habits that help get quality shut eye, such as retiring and waking at regular intervals, even on weekends and not try to skimp on sleep during the week and then try to sleep in and make up for a deficit on weekends. Melatonin made in the pineal gland, rises in our blood at night and helps time our sleep. In the old days before electricity, the darkness would trigger our melatonin and we would go to sleep earlier. Now with all our indoor lighting we don’t get that signal. They have also found that the blue light from tablets, cellphones and computers especially delays our melatonin from being released. There are apps and glasses that can block this blue light. It is also worth investing in black-out curtains so that no outdoor light can get in.
Lately I’m finding that wifi and electromagnetic fields are disturbing many people’s sleep quality. One baby I treated was hardly sleeping, I found out it was the baby monitor that was sending out frequencies, and as soon as that was unplugged, she slept like a baby. So I recommend turning off the wifi router at night, sleeping with a grounding pad under your sheet that is ground to the neutral in a wall outlet, and not sleeping with a cell phone in the bedroom, or if you do put it on airplane mode while sleeping.
So don’t think sleeping is a waste of time, it is beneficial and essential for the, body mind, and soul.