Since retiring, I’ve been able to focus more on the quality of my sleep and also the quality of my dreams.
I’m just starting to learn about dreams, and I’m curious if anyone has a recommended starting point for learning more. I tried reading Carl Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” and was excited for about the first 50 pages, but it ended up being way over my head. (It also seemed highly speculative.)
I have not yet experienced Lucid Dreaming, but my dreams have become much longer with deeper and sustained “story lines” (if that’s the word for it). Each individual dream scenario lasts longer, and the events that occur within the dream seem to be more connected/related - there is more of an organized, multi-step plot to them.
My hypothesis is that this is caused by 3 factors:
1. Less stress about making sure I wake up on time to get to work and feeling the subconscious need to check work messages.
2. I’ve always been a fairly heavy reader, but my reading has increased significantly during retirement. I’ve also been increasingly listening to audiobooks - I find that this allows for a more reflective/meditative interaction with the book . . . in a way it is a bit like dreaming when visualizing a story that you are listening to. I wonder if this is building some sort of “dreaming” muscle in my brain.
3. I’ve been practicing Interrupted/Biphasic sleep on most nights. Since childhood, I would fall asleep at a relatively normal time, but then wake up after about 3 hours. With great frustration, I would lie in bed, unable to get back to sleep. A few years ago I learned about Interrupted Sleep, which came as a great relief. [There’s a good summary of this topic on wikipedia that is quite reflective of my experience. I've summarized some highlights below.] I’ve embraced my middle of the night wakefulness, which has led to a richer, more peaceful “second sleep” - which is when much of the deeper/sustained dreaming occurs. This second sleep is of a different quality than my first sleep. It is a more restful/peaceful sleep - almost like a very deep afternoon nap but without the grogginess upon waking.
Highlights of Wikipedia article on Interrupted Sleep https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphasic_ ... asic_sleep
- Before the Industrial Revolution, interrupted sleep was dominant in Western civilization, based on evidence from documents from the ancient, medieval, and modern world.
- Historically, adults typically slept in two distinct phases, bridged by an intervening period of wakefulness. This time was used to “pray and reflect, and to interpret dreams, which were more vivid at that hour than upon waking in the morning. This was also a favorite time for scholars and poets to write uninterrupted, whereas still others visited neighbors, engaged in sexual activity, or committed petty crime.”
- The human circadian rhythm regulates the human sleep-wake cycle of wakefulness during the day and sleep at night, but because of electric lighting most modern humans do not practice interrupted sleep. Many experience a feeling of peace during the nighttime wakefulness, possibly due to the brain exhibiting high levels of the pituitary hormone prolactin during this period.
- The modern assumption that consolidated sleep with no awakenings is the normal and correct way for human adults to sleep, may lead people to believe they have a sleep disorder.
- Historians have found that the two periods of night sleep were called "first sleep" (occasionally "dead sleep") and "second sleep" (or "morning sleep") in medieval England. First and second sleep were also the terms in the Romance languages, as well as in the language of the Tiv of Nigeria.
- In a 1992 study, Thomas Wehr had eight healthy men confined to a room for fourteen hours of darkness daily for a month. Gradually, the subjects began to sleep much as people in pre-industrial times had. They would sleep for about four hours, wake up for two to three hours, then go back to bed for another four hours.