The brain’s activity was found to be a better indicator of dreaming in animals than REM because some creatures, such as owls, do not move their eyes. In this way, all mammals were seen to exhibit active sleep or dreaming. Birds also dream, and, measured in this way, so do many types of fish, reptiles and some amphibians. See science, sleep and dreams. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
An idea of ‘reality’ in the sense of what is probable, and what would be dangerously out of norm, has been formed. We gather information in ways little recognised. How our parents relate to their environment and to other people is all recorded and leamt from, bringing about enormous ‘programming’ affecting how we act in similar circumstances.
As explained in the entry on the dream as spiritual guide, we have great ability in ‘reading’ symbols, ritual, an, music, body language, architecture, drama, and extracting ‘meaning’ from them. So we have immense stores of information from these sources. Work done with people exploring their dreams over a long period suggests that some of these information resources are never focused on enough to make conscious what we have actually learnt. Sometimes it is enough simply to ask oneself a question to begin to focus some of these resources. Such questions as what social attitude and response to authority did I learn at school? What feeling reaction do I get when I am in the presence of someone I know well? These may help to bring to awareness aspects of information gathered but remaining unconscious. These unfocused, or unconscious, areas of information can explain why we have apparently irrational feeling responses to some people or situations.
the body A lot of what we call the unconscious are basic physiological and psychological functions.
For instance in a modern house, when we flush the toilet, we do not have to bring a bucket of water and fill the cistern again.
A self regulating mechanism allows water to flow in and switches it off when full. This is a clever built-in function that had to be done manually at one time. Nowadays we have built into some dwellings fire sprinklers or burglar alarms. Through repeated actions over thousands or millions of years, many basic functions, or functions only switched on in emergencies, have been built into our being. We do not need to think about them, just as we do not have to give awareness to the fire sprinkling system or toilet each time we walk through a room or flush the toilet. They are therefore unconscious.
Research with animals in connection with rewards and conditioned reflexes has shown that by gradually leading an animal towards a certain performance by rewarding it each time it gets nearer to the goal, it can do the most amazing things. It can increase the circulation of blood to its ear, slow its heart, and in fact influence body functions which were thought to be completely involuntary. Where human beings have learnt to use some of these techniques—such as raising the temperature of an arm at will, or helping to increase the efficiency of the immune system—the actual processes still remain unconscious. In general, however, the body’s functions are thought to be outside our awareness, and so are one of the areas of the unconscious. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If you dream of a strong, muscular back, then this signifies a healthy financial situation.
If you dream of a back that is decrepit or in pain, then this signifies financial insecurity.... Strangest Dream Explanations
There are many different reasons why dreams may be forgotten.
The most obvious is that we do not give enough attention to our dreaming process. When people become intrigued by what they might be dreaming, and develop a motivation to remember, they frequently start recalling several dreams a week. From this standpoint, the reason why some people have always remembered might be that they have always been either intrigued or anxious about their nightly dramas.
The way we rise in the morning has an effect upon this type of memory.
If our attention is immediately turned outwards on waking, there is little hope of recalling a dream unless it has great power, as might a nightmare. Spending a few moments leaving our mind open to memory aids recall. Any visual, or even muscular activity, will fill consciousness with new and powerful impressions which might obliterate the subtler impressions of dreaming. Rorschach suggested not opening the eyes, and remaining physically still. Tests also showed that passage of time, even a few minutes, between dreaming and attempting to remember causes many dreams to fragment and be lost. So any attempts to remember need one to record the dream quickly, by speaking it to one’s bedmate, using a tape recorder by one’s bed, or writing it down.
Some dreams have rather misty or fragmentary imagery and theme, while others are clear, concise and dynamic. These latter are more easily remembered. There may be times when we sleep with longer periods of wakefulness, perhaps due to feeling cold, or uncomfonable in a strange bed, which cause us to remember as we are nearer consciousness. Because dreams occur in cycles during the night, if something wakes us during a dream cycle the memory is easier, if only because less time has elapsed since occurrence. So another method of captunng a dream is to have one’s alarm gently sound prior to the time one usually wakes.
The last hour or so of sleep includes a long period of dreaming, so waking in this period with intent to remember can often capture the quarry.
Thereare also psychological reasons for forgetfulness. Dreams often deal with past areas of experience which we do not wish to remember, or would rather not be aware of.
If we find it difficult to feel emotions, or feel uncomfonable with them, it is highly likely we repress dream memory, as dreams have a base of high feelings. Experiments have shown that during dreaming our heartbeat, body movements and breathing frequently reflect intensified emotions. Also, research into what areas of the brain produce dreaming suggest that dreams may be from the ‘visceral brain’, which is largely non verbal.
If temperamentally we find feeling qualities a foreign language, connecting with a dream would need to be a learnt skill. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The next leap forward in understanding came when Aserinsky and Kleitman found rapid eye movements (REM) in 1953. In 1957 the REM were linked with dreaming. This defined sleep into two different observable states, REM sleep, and NREM (non-rapid eye movement or non-rem) sleep. Within NREM three different stages have been identified. These are defined by the different EEG patterns of electrical activity in the brain. They are measured by the height (amplitude) of the brain waves and frequency of up and down movement. There are also electrical changes occurring in the muscles (measured using an electro- myograph or EMG), and in movement of the eyeballs (measured using an electro-oculograph or EOG).
While awake the height is low and frequency fast. As we relax prior to sleep the EEG shifts to what are called alpha waves, at 8 to 12 cps (cycles per second). Stage one of sleep is the transition between this drowsy state of alpha waves to sleeping, in which theta waves occur, at 3 to 7 cps. In this first stage we experience random images and thoughts. This lasts about 10 minutes, followed by stage two, in which ‘sleep spindles’ occur which have 12 to 14 cps on the EEG. These last from 1/2 to 2 seconds, with K complexes following, which are slow large EEG waves. About half our sleep period is spent in this second stage of sleep. Deep sleep is reached when our brain exhibits delta waves, with 1/2 to 2 cps.
After approximately an hour and a half from falling into deep sleep, an exciting change occurs. We return to level two and REM occur. Suddenly the brain is alert and active, though the person is asleep and difficult to wake. This level has been called paradoxical sleep because of this fact. Voluntary muscular activity is suppressed and the body is essentially paralysed. Morrison has pointed out that, although the brain is transmitting full muscular activity messages, these are usually suppressed by an area of the brain in the pons. But bursts of short actions occur, such as rapid eyeball jerks, twitches of the muscles, changes in the size of the pupil, contractions in the middle ear, and erection of the penis. It may be that similar excitation occurs in the vagina. Also, autonomic storms’ occur dunng which large erratic changes occur in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and in other autonomic nervous system functions. These are the changes accompanying our dreams.
If we slept for eight hours, a typical pattern would be to pass into delta sleep, stay there for about 70 to 90 minutes, then return to stage two and dream for about five minutes. We then move back into delta sleep, stay for a short period and shift back to level two, but without dreaming, then back into level three.
The next return to stage two is longer, almost an hour, with a period of dreaming lasting about 19 minutes, and also a short period of return to waking. There is only one short period of return to stage three sleep which occurs nearly four hours after falling asleep. From there on we remain in level two sleep, with three or four lengthening periods of dreaming, and returns to brief wakefulness.
The average amount of body shifting is once every 15 minutes.
1- In undergoing 205 hours of sleep deprivation, four healthy males showed various physiological and psychological changes. Some of these were headache, lack of concentration, hallucination, memory loss, tremor and, in some, paranoia. In all cases one night’s sleep restored normal functioning.
2- One in ten people who complain of excessive daytime drowsiness suffer from sleep apnoea, which is a stoppage of breathing while asleep.
3- A condition called narcolepsy causes sufferers to fall asleep at inappropriate times—while making love, walking, playing tennis, working.
4- As we age we usually sleep less. Our REM sleep in particular decreases sharply. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If this area is damaged or suppressed, humans or animals make full muscular movements in connection with what is dreamt. He observed that cats would stalk, crouch and spring at imaginary prey. These very imponant findings suggest a number of things.
The unconscious process behind dreaming, apan from creating a non-volitional fantasy, can also reproduce movements we have not consciously decided upon. This shows we have at least two centres of will which can direct body and mental processes. Christopher Evans, linking with the work of Nicholas Humphrey at Cambridge University, sees the movements of dreaming cats as expressions of survival ‘programs’ in the biological computer. These ‘programs’ or strategies for survival need to be replayed in order not only to keep in practice, but also to modify them in connection with the influx of extra experience and information. In the human realm, our survival strategies and the way we relate to our social, sexual, marriage and work roles may also be replayed and modified in our dreaming.
Such movements are not linked simply to survival or social programs’.
An important aspect of dreaming is releasing painful emotions or trauma, and moving toward psychological growth. Also, the process producing these movements does not keep strictly to the realm of sleep. It is observable that many muscular spasms, ticks, or unwilled waking movements arise from this source—the will’ of the unconscious—attempting to release trauma or initiate a necessary programme of psychological growth. That such dream’ activities as spontaneous movement or verbalisation should occur during waking would appear to suggest that a dream must occur with them. Research shows this is unlikely. It does however show that a dream may be imagery produced to express this mental, muscular, emotional ‘self regulation’.
The imagery may not be necessary if the process is consciously experienced.
Because the self-regulatory process produces spontaneous movements, emotions and verbalisation, it is likely there is a connection between it and many ancient religious practices such as pentecostalism, shaktipat in India, subud in Indonesia and seitai in Japan. These are forms of psychotherapy practised by other cultures. They create an environment in which practitioners can allow spontaneous movement and fantasy while awake. Because consciousness is then involved, and can co-operate with the self-regulating or healing activities of the unconscious, such practice can lead to better health and utilisation of unconscious functions.
The older religious forms of this practice relied on belief systems of spirits or gods. Once the connection between these practices and the dream is realised, much in them which was obscure becomes understandable. In my book Mind and Movement I explain the connection between the dream process, self regulatory healing, extended perception and waking consciousness. See abreaction; sleep walking; dream as therapist and healer. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences