Coping / Family / Health

To sleep, perchance to dream

“People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” ― Neil Gaiman

One of this month’s prompts from BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo is: if you could be given the option to never sleep, and also never be tired, would you take it even if it meant you’d also never dream again?

And the easy answer to this is NO! Besides being a night-shift workker, I’m already fatigued, irritable and moody enough with my perimenopausal self and I’m not about to add to those burgeoning issues. My close friends and family probably already want to tie me down and force-feed me hormones.

But without REM or rapid-eye movement sleep and no dreams it is my understanding that you just slowly lose your mind. (Just saw a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Night Terrors,” in which the crew is deprived of REM sleep and is in jeopardy of losing their minds.) There are plenty of other things in this life that I pray and meditate on to ensure I don’t lose my mind without me helping the process by not sleeping.

The additional time in the day that I would gain from not sleeping would not be worth it because I could just picture me becoming a raving lunatic without any sleep or dreams. I love my dreams when I have them. If they’re not “good” they’re usually not disturbing — at least those that I can remember.

According to Gary Wenk, psychologist and author of Your Brain on Food, “Overall, recent studies suggest that we require a balance of both phases of sleep, SWS (slow wave sleep) and REM, in order to consolidate memories for future use. Thus, it is not the quantity of sleep that is important; rather, the quality of sleep is more important for making new memories.”

Who would want to give up dream sleep? You could come up with the idea of a lifetime during this period. I say just lay back and relax and dream about ways to save time and be more productive during your day. That time in our beds, on our couches or wherever we lay down our heads is so much more valuable to our overall well-being.

Torie gets ready for dreamland in August 2009 in McLean, Va.

My little one, Torie, gets ready for dreamland in August 2009 in McLean, Va.

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