Sleeping, dreaming and lucidity

Before I begin let me just say that dreams are like one of my favourite things. I find dreaming to be one of the most fascinating concepts that exists. I wanted to share some experiences that I found to be interesting and I just want to say that this almost ended up turning into a rant, so if you don’t find dreams interesting in any way then probably don’t read this. Okay.. on with the dreaming.

 

Sometimes, I don’t sleep. “That’s normal”, you might say. “Everyone doesn’t sleep every once in a while.” Don’t get me wrong, I have those normal ‘don’t sleep’ nights too. But these ‘sometimes’ don’t sleep nights are different. I don’t sleep, but I dream.

I began keeping a dream journal a few months ago and many things have changed. Firstly, I’ve often thought that perhaps I dream more than the average human, or more that I just remember more. I’m not sure why but I’ve always been able to remember almost all of my dreams. Dreams are one of the things that fascinate me most in the world. Just the way the brain can subconsciously stitch together things that have happened to you and create weird and wonderful stories when you’re not even trying. It shows that everyone can be creative if only they try. But perhaps the fact that I’m creative gives me a bit of an advantage when it comes to dreaming. Who knows?

Anyway, with the implementation of this dream journal, the frequency of my dreaming increased without question. A night without a dream is rare for me and sometimes, though rarely, I can remember up to five or six dreams in a night. I also have had multiple experiences in lucid dreaming. I think the reason for this is that keeping a record of dreams makes your brain more conscious of its dreaming state, in knowing that it’s going to have to consciously record its experiences in the morning. I didn’t start the journal in order to prompt lucid dreams, even though I’d heard that dream journalling is something that can help bring on the experience. But I started the journal simply to remember my dreams, because sometimes I get ideas from them, they fascinate me more than anything, and I like to laugh at the ridiculousness of them.

So, you might ask, why are lucid dreams relevant in this? And how was it? What even is it? Well, a lucid dream is basically any dream in which you are conscious that you are in a dreaming state. Sometimes people can control their actions in lucid dreams and create a story that is shaped to their desires, but sometimes not. It is a bit of a loose definition really. Upon reflection, I believe I’ve always been able to lucid dream but never noticed it because I just assumed it was nothing special. I think because I enjoy dreaming so much and am so interested by them, I have always been able to tell when I’m dreaming. Or at least a lot of the time, always is a bit of a stretch considering I have absolutely experienced some dreams where they are so realistic I am positive they are real life… until I wake up of course.

However, only recently (since the dream journal) have I started properly lucid dreaming. By this I mean, I know I know I’m dreaming. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like it. This is where the not sleeping but dreaming comes in. When I’m lucid dreaming, my brain is so active in taking in and experiencing and thinking during the dream that it isn’t actually resting. So while my body is asleep and I’m lying in my bed with my eyes closed, my brain is well and truly awake and living in a whole new world inside of my head. I am so vividly experiencing this dream, it’s like real life, yet I know I’m dreaming. Then, I wake up at maybe, 4am, feeling completely awake and like I haven’t slept at all. But I know I have, because I remember dreaming.

If I’m going through a particularly stressful time, this can happen almost every night for a couple of days to a week leaving me feeling very sleep deprived. It seems that vivid lucid dreams are my brains way of expressing stress, seeing as I would never consider myself someone who gets very stressed. My brain doesn’t seem to be able to relax until about 3:30am. Recently I had an experience where I was going through a lot of stress and anxiety with organising something that was very new and out of my comfort zone. I had some dreams during this period that were like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

I knew I was dreaming, but I wasn’t in control of my dream, which is perfectly normal. But in these dreams It’s almost as if I was only half lucid. There was a battle in my mind between my subconscious dreaming state and my lucid dreaming state. As if there were two parts of my brain fighting over who is getting to control the dream. I had no idea what was happening in the dreams either. There were just too many things happening at once for there to be a clear picture. I just knew how they felt. They felt messy, confusing and so so loud. So loud. Like my mind was just screaming. Like being in a crowded area with thousands of people trying to talk over the top of each other and no one successfully being able to say anything. Yet, while I knew I was dreaming, there seemed to being nothing I could do to be able to drag myself out of this state. I was aware of my body lying in bed and I was aware of its movements. But I could not open my eyes.

It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life because all I wanted to do was sleep but I just couldn’t because even when I was sleeping I wasn’t. And as much as I love dreaming, it was almost as bad as having a nightmare. It’s weird how something that isn’t even making noise can feel loud. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be blind and dream. I’ve heard that when blind people dream they dream in sounds and sensations. That’s almost what this felt like. Just sounds and sensations. Weird.