Consciousness and Unconsciousness:
Consciousness has many layers, when we are wide awake we are not aware of all that is going on around us or of our own actions. As we sleep our brains are extremely active, and material from the unconscious surfaces in the form of dreams, in waking life unconscious thoughts can be a burst of inspiration.
During the sleep process the body repairs itself while the brain processes the days events and works to sort them out. Each night during four or five sleep cycles, we go through various stages of sleep. Within each stage there are unique characteristics, each designed to maintain health and to prepare us for our day to day lives.
When we sleep the levels of consciousness are Excited – Relaxed – Drowsy – Asleep – Deep sleep – Coma. The amount of sleep an individual requires varies, a newborn spends 80% of its time sleeping, by five months they need less sleep, sleep requirement decreases through life. In middle age a person requires eight hours, in old age it is reduced to seven or less. An adult spends around one third of their sleep cycle in REM sleep, 14 – 18 year olds have the lowest proportion of REM to non REM sleep.
The average person in the course of their life will spend around 20 years sleeping and experience at least 300,000 dreams. The nervous system needs to sleep and dream for health and wellbeing
People will die more quickly from lack of sleep than from lack of food. If a person is kept awake for long periods of time they will hallucinate and become disorientated, for health and vitality sleeping and dreaming is essential.
Each person has a natural rhythm of sleeping and waking, it is based on individual circadian rhythms throughout 24 hours. Sleep involves four stages that form the sleep cycle, in the first stage the individual drifts between sleeping and waking. During the second stage the body can be woken by even the slightest disturbances and the eyes roll from side to side. The body is very relaxed during stage three and only an extremely loud disturbance will awaken them. It takes twenty minutes to go through the three stages.
After stage four the cycle reverses, when the person reaches stage one the body goes into REM sleep and begins to dream. From stage one to four takes between 90 and 100 minutes. This cycle repeats itself between four and five times during the course of a night’s sleep. Most dreams take place during REM sleep, at this time the major muscles of the body are paralysed.
Reality in dreams:
Within dreams timing is of no account, decades can go by while you are sleeping. The dream world is fluid and can seem distorted. Things are not always as they seem as incongruous images present themselves to the dreamer. Events are exaggerated and emotions heightened, things take place in dreams that do not take place in your normal day to day life, such as flying high in the sky, or swimming under water and being able to breathe. Sometimes dreams are beautiful and placid, other times dramatic and frightening. Dreaming is necessary to our wellbeing, all dreams are not remembered, it has also been suggested that dreams help us to learn and at times find answers.
Types of dreams:
The most common dreams are those about snakes, houses, water, travel, flying, royalty, the dentist or teeth. Other dreams are of sex, aggression/anger, eating, family, friends, lovers and relatives who have passed over. Some believe that those who dream of extraterrestrials are actually tuning in to a force beyond the earth plane. People tend to have dream themes and particular people who appear in their dreams throughout their lives. The more frightening dreams/nightmares we have occur during REM sleep, women seem to have nightmares more frequently than men. Sigmund Freud believed that all dreams are sexual or aggressive in nature.
Dreams can help the individual tap and apply their creativity in any particular form. Many artists, writers, scientists, designers and musicians use their dreams as a source of inspiration. As everything in dreams is exaggerated those who are creative will often awaken feeling inspired after dreaming. Well-known composers have cited their dreams as being their greatest inspiration. Poetry and novels are written after creative dreaming, films are produced, spectacular art is created. Charles Dickens derived inspiration for many of his characters from his dreams. The fictional writer Robert Louis Stevenson created his fictional character Mr. Hyde, after he had a particularly vivid and detailed dream. The French artist Paul Gauguin was inspired to paint one of his most famous works after he awoke from a dream
These dreams help us to pay attention to issues and conflicts that are repressed at a conscious level, when we sleep our emotional barriers are down and we are more receptive.
Often things that we procrastinate about, deny or try to ignore will be presented to us again and again in our dreams, until we finally pay attention and resolve whatever it is we are meant to deal with. This type of dream is to help us recognis/e and pay attention to problems that are hidden or buried, often within the dream there is an idea for a solution.
In precognitive dreams the dreamer is given insight into their future and offered guidance, relatives who have passed over often reveal themselves in these dreams.
These dreams are often frightening in their reality, but are not necessarily actual, such as dreaming of death is usually to do with major change in our lives. It can also mean a new beginning or the start of a new cycle in life. If someone you care about has died, dreams of your own death or someone close to you often occur, this has more to do with the psychological processing of what has taken place and your adjustment to change.
During our waking hours the mind absorbs copious amounts of information and during the dream state what has been absorbed is then analysed. Health issues that are being suppressed due to fear will surface while the individual is dreaming.
Factual and problem solving dreams:
These dreams place an emphasis on actual day to day activities and events, offering guidance and at times answers to problems we are unable to resolve in our waking state. Many people think of their problems before they go to sleep and ask for guidance, often upon waking the next morning they have the answers they were looking for, or at the very least greater understanding. Thomas Edison believed that napping helped him with his inventions, he often saw images in his dreams of what he was going to create.
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