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Sleeping & Dreaming

Sigmund Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams, published originally in 1899, was one of the first popular books to explore the value and meaning of dreams.  Of course it wasn’t the last. Freud proposes that the ultimate value of dream analysis may be in revealing the hidden workings of the unconscious mind.

Modern experts like Gayle Delaney, PhD and author of In Your Dreams also assert that dreams can be used as a tool to help individuals solve problems or challenges they are facing in real life.

Sleeping disorders, your dreams and memory
Timothy Walter who is M.D board certified in Neurology and Sleep Medicine also has a book that analyzes the reasons behind why we dream. In his book, REM Illumination Memory Consolidation, Walter applies the latest medical research to discuss why REM sleep and dreaming are critical factors in maintaining an individual’s alertness and function. He also discusses how dreams may help us remember more, and why sleep apnea and other sleep disorders that disrupt REM sleep can impair memory.Colorado Sleep Center of the Rockies® specialists can help determine how your sleeping challenges may be affecting your mental sharpness and memory― and how this relates to your dreaming capacity.

Your dreams revealed
Dr. Terry Himes, Sleep Center’s top Neurologist, can give you more insight into your sleeping patterns and can shed light onto how and why you dream. Schedule an appointment to learn how sleep science and dream analysis can give you more clarity, direction and focus!

Dream questions answered

Think you don't dream? Think again
Dreaming is as natural as sleeping. Everyone dreams, regardless of if you remember your dreams or not. Sleep is prompted by natural cycles of activity in the brain and consists of two basic states: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep; during sleep, the body cycles between these two. Usually, REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after sleep onset and dreams generally occur in the REM stage of sleep. Experts believe we all spend an average of one and a half to two hours a night in REM sleep dreaming.

Intense dreaming occurs during REM sleep as a result of heightened brain activity. But it is important to note that paralysis of the major voluntary muscle groups also occurs simultaneously in this stage of sleep. REM is a mixture of brain states of excitement and muscular immobility.

Why do I dream?
Timothy J. Walter, M.D in his book REM Illumination Memory Consolidation explains that dreams serve as a vehicle to help us process and catalogue memories. Research says that during REM sleep dreaming our brains are formulating complicated dreams with twists and turns and seemingly nonsensical details as a way to consolidate memories. By realizing why you dream, you can optimize your consciousness― being more awake, alert and you can achieve enhanced long-term memory capacity.

Because memories are stored during sleep, dreaming allows the brain to use certain circuits that improve long-term memory. When sleeping and dreaming are a part of your normal, healthy life your brain has a way to determine which memories you keep, and how to store them, and which ones to let go.

What are dreams anyway?
Many believe that dreams are a process for helping us consolidate memories and organize information and events. Sleep experts also believe dreams give you a window into the emotional issues in your waking life. Researchers at Harvard Medical School believe that when the brain dreams, it helps you learn and solve problems.

In a study that appeared in a recent issue of Current Biology, researchers report that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and understanding new information.

Can we really interrupt our dreams?
Although somewhat controversial on how dreams are interpreted, most experts agree that dreams can be analyzed.  Many theories exist on how to properly interrupt dreams. According to his book, Freud postulated that when his procedure is applied, every dream turns out to be a meaningful, psychical formation which can be given an identifiable place in what goes on within our waking life.

Sleep specialists and neurologists generally agree that while dreams should be studied, there is no blueprint or universal dream dictionary. Most believe that dreams are highly individual statements and personal to the dreamer. Essentially, the meaning of a dream can vary tremendously according to the dreamer's personal representation or symbolism. Colorado Sleep Center of the Rockies® specialists can help you examine what YOUR dreams represent in your life. By consulting with our experts you can gain a better understanding how symbols manifest in your dreams and how they relate to your own circumstances. This can help you get insight into your life.

Was it a dream if I knew I was dreaming? [Lucid Dreams]
Lucid dreaming means dreaming while being aware that you are dreaming. The term was coined by Frederik van Eeden who used the word "lucid" in the sense of mental clarity. Frederik van Eeden was psychiatrists in the Netherlands around the turn of the century. With a background in the natural sciences, the doctor developed an interest in psychotherapy.

Lucidity usually begins in the midst of a dream when the dreamer realizes that the experience is not occurring in physical reality, but is a dream. When lucidity is at a high level, you are aware that everything experienced in the dream is occurring in your mind, that there is no real danger, and that you are asleep in bed and will awaken shortly. With low-level lucidity you may be aware to a certain extent that you are dreaming, perhaps enough to fly or alter what you are doing, but not enough to realize that the people are dream representations, or that you can suffer no physical damage, or that you are actually in bed.

Help! Why am I dreaming this?

I was paralyzed or trapped
Another common dream is dreaming that you are trapped or immobile. Dreaming that you are paralyzed could reflect the current state of your body during a dream. During the REM state of sleep, your body becomes immobile. On a symbolic level, dreaming that you are paralyzed may mean you are feeling helpless in some aspects of your waking life. You may feel emotionally trapped and unequipped to deal with a situation or circumstances in your life. You may be experiencing a sense of lack of control where you cannot change your reality or communicate effectively what you need changed.

I was nude in public
Dreaming that you are completely or partially naked is very common. Nudity may represent a variety of themes and there are several interpretations of dreams about being naked.

Naked and mortified
If you are in a dream and you become embarrassed at the realization that you are naked in public, this may reflect your vulnerability. Symbolically you may have emotions or memories of hiding something and you are afraid that others can see through you.

Metaphorically, clothes are a means of camouflage. Without them, your true identity is visible to all. You are exposed and left without any defenses. Your naked dream may be telling you that you are trying to be something that you really are not. Or you may be fearful of being ridiculed and disgraced for showing who you are. Such anxieties are elevated especially in situations where you are trying to impress others. Your dream may be highlighting fears or apprehension in revealing your true feelings or true self.

Nudity may also symbolize being caught off guard or unprepared. You may be unprepared in making a decision or you feel unsatisfied with the amount of information you have available. With all eyes on you, you fear that some flaw will be exposed and brought to public view.