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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?


Rebecca said...

YES! Dreams are important. It's when information is filed into your memory. The memories of dream images must be stored in the same part of the brain because if I remember one dream, the memory of others are instantly triggered.

It's fun to think about as we apply for home loans... Nice break from stress.

Mike said...

Yes ,I believe memory is stored in the prefrontal cortex but at night this area of the brain goes crazy..:-)

I still wonder if dreams really help our creative thinking...I don't have any ,so it doesn't matter if I dream or not..:-(

Edith Ann said...

I completely agree with this article! I have solved more issues during the night! My most creative ideas for my sewing hobby have come in the middle of the night. I have found more peace in the middle of the night when I have been troubled. I figure I think much more clearly when I sleep than I do when I am awake!

Mike said...

If I'm mistaken,EA,you post most of your blogs late night or in the wee hours in the morning..That doesn't say when you create them....I'm sure your last ones were days in the making.

If your time stamps are correct,you sleep less the standard 8 hours.

You have a busy schedule.How do you make time for sewing?

My mother was a seamstress and a heroine to my girls and all her granddaughters because she would would make all their doll clothes and in her spare time would knit sweaters for our dogs...How did she make the tiny clothes for the Barbies?

Edith Ann said...

LOL, Mike! I do post mostly late at night because I write in the evenings. The 'forum' blogs have been the easiest--copy and paste. The respondents did all the work!
But I try to get to bed before 11:00 most nights, and I rarely get out of bed before 6:30. Close to 8 hours!

I don't have much time for sewing, but when the 'finished product' appears to me, it is so much easier! I started sewing in the 3rd grade, and it is one of my best skills. I smock dresses for my granddaughter. I did Barbie clothes when I was a kid--if that doesn't cure you, nothing will!