Do You Sleep Better When You Don’t Have Dreams?
Here’s the thing. Everyone dreams, but are they good for us? We know that dreaming about specific things can have particular meanings. For example, you may find something out about yourself if you’re dreaming about dinosaurs, rainbows, or even fighting with somebody. What about those mornings when you wake up and don’t remember dreaming at all? There may be a scientific answer to that!
According to The Healthy, we dream once we enter the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, but fewer and fewer people are reaching this phase and staying there, especially on a consistent basis. This means that generally fewer people are dreaming, which Dr. Rubin Naiman calls a “striking epidemic” and a “public health hazard,” per The Healthy. Like sleep deprivation, this lack of dreaming is called dream deprivation, and it’s bad for the body and mind alike.
On dream deprivation, Dr. Naiman explained, “Poor dreaming, or damaged dreaming, is strongly linked to emotional disturbance and to anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental illness. Dreaming also processes and consolidates memory, and both mild cognitive disturbances and serious neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease are associated with damaged dreaming.” He makes it clear that dreaming is of utmost importance when we sleep, which makes sense when we consider that dreaming is “restorative.”
Here's how you can fight back against dream deprivation
According to Verywell Health, sleep deprivation can disrupt your metabolism and cardiovascular health, and cause pain, and it could be hypothesized that dream deprivation could cause these issues as well. We enter REM sleep every 90-120 minutes and these REM periods last on average 5-30 minutes. They further explain that these REM periods become more frequent in the last one-third of our sleep, so more of our REM periods occur toward the morning than when you first fall asleep.
These REM periods can be interrupted by various obstructions, though. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your total amount of REM will be reduced, and some substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and marijuana can interfere with your REM sleep. Some people want alcohol before bed, though, and Dr. Naiman admits that that’s fine; however, he warns that most people have too much before bed. He says, “I think there’s an innocent goal: People want to relax and expand their consciousness. That actually happens naturally in dreaming, and if we don’t dream well, it increases the pressure to find other ways of doing that” (via The Healthy).
Ultimately, dream deprivation hasn’t been studied enough to know what exactly its consequences are, but scientists and doctors do know that it’s not good for us. If you wake up often with no dreams in your memory, it may be time to switch up your nighttime routine. For example, you could try going to bed earlier or drinking less caffeine or alcohol. There could be any number of factors at play, but we have to learn the inherent value our dreams possess.
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