Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Do Dreams Matter?
According to new research, our brain is at its most creative state when we are asleep. I'm a bit of skeptic because I don't understand how electrodes can give as that much feedback on the human brain but the article in Time Magazine by Jeffery Kluger caught my interest.
Paul McCartney said he came up with the melody for “Yesterday" in a dream. Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine said he came up with the idea of needles when he dreamed of an attack by warriors carrying spears will holes in the tips. Mary Shelley dreamed of a man assembled from bits beyond the grave-and went on to write Frankenstein.
The act of sleeping is a little more complicated than just conking out for the night. The article stated that we have two principals’ cycles of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and the non rapid eye movement (NREM) and they alternate throughout the night. As a sleep pattern progresses, our muscles relax, heart rate and respiration slows and our body temperature drops and our muscles become paralyzed. Have you ever had that dream where you'd needed to wake up but couldn't? How about trying to get out of bed but you couldn't move your arms or legs until you woke up? Those are examples of REM sleep and come at the last 4 hours of sleep.
Our waking brain is supposed to be orderly and our sleeping brain is fragmented. The fragmented brain sleep pattern allows us to explore other untried avenues. It's been proven that students that take a 40 minute nap improve their test scores. In our waking period, we work out a problem in our head and come up with familiar answers. Sleep allows a chance for a better answer to emerge.
The author said that when we try to remember the name of a song and three hours it hits us is no accident. It's called "conscience awareness" because we're only able to focus on one thing at a time.
The question is are we equally creative in our sleep or do people who are already creative in the waking hours retain that edge at night? Sorry, the creative ones have an advantage because more than likely they have an active fantasy life and their daytime behavior follows them into the night sleep. It's like the rich get richer.
It was recommended that we keep a journal of ours dreams and to avoid alcohol and caffeine because they scramble the REM and NREM sleeping cycle. It was also suggested that we contemplate a problem that we're trying to solve just before we go to bed because it increases the likelihood that a dream will come up with a solution.
I am still trying to figure out why I’m still having the reoccurring dream of driving up a steep climb losing power and seeing thousand of cars behind me. The other one is getting separated from my wife in a large city with no means to contact her.
What do you think? Are dreams that important?