7 Things Your Dreams Can Tell You About Your Sleep Quality

Author ArticleDepending on how well you slept, you might be more likely to have certain types of dreams than others. Whether you had a vivid dream, and woke up remembering every bizarre detail, or sat up in bed sweating after a nightmare, it can all help reveal the quality of your sleep. And possibly even various other disorders and underlying issues.

While not all dreams types are created equal, they share the same characteristics. “Dreams are a collection of involuntary thoughts, visual images, and emotional responses that occur during sleep,” Rose MacDowell, chief research officer at Sleepopolis, tells Bustle. “Dreams usually happen three to five times each night during REM sleep.”

During a typical night, you’re likely to go through four different stages of sleep, with each cycle lasting about 90 minutes. “REM is the last stage of a sleep cycle, preceded by stage one (light sleep), stage two (when both the heart rate and body temperature decrease), and stages three and four (grouped together and often referred to as slow-wave sleep, or SWS),” dream expert Stephanie Gailing, MS, tells Bustle.

Depending on things like your physical health, mental health, and even how deeply you’re sleeping, you might be more likely to have certain types of dreams, than others. And knowing what to look for can be one way to figure out a little bit more about your sleeping self.

Read on below for the various types of dreams, as well as what the experts say they might reveal about your overall quality of your sleep.

1. You Don’t Dream At All

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While it can be difficult to remember dreams once you wake up, if it feels like you rarely dream at all, it could point to a disorder that causes restless sleep, known as sleep apnea.

“This is because sleep apnea tends to be worse during REM sleep (the stage in which we have the most vivid dreams) so this stage of sleep becomes very disrupted with frequent awakenings, thereby preventing dreaming,” Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, tells Bustle.

Again, you might be someone who can’t recall their dreams, even though you did have them. But if your dreamlessness is accompanied by other signs of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring or waking up tired, it may require a closer look.

2. You Dream As Soon As You Fall Asleep

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Dreaming the moment you fall asleep could, in some cases, be a sign of a disorder called narcolepsy. “Narcolepsy sufferers fall directly into REM sleep, normally the fourth stage of sleep, and may spend more time experiencing vivid dreams,” MacDowell says.

If you tend to wake up after a dream, even though you’ve only just gone to sleep, this may explain why — especially if you have other signs of narcolepsy, such as persistent daytime sleepiness.

3. You Have Extremely Vivid Dreams

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Vivid or bizarre dreams — including the kind that stick in your mind long after you’ve woken up — are common among creative people and those who meditate right before bed, MacDowell says. And they can also occur when you have a fever.

As MacDowell says, “Elevated body temperature can cause neurotransmitters in the brain to transmit information at a faster rate, causing vivid dreams or even hallucinations.”

But because vivid dreams can also trigger startling or negative emotions, MacDowell says they may indicate you didn’t sleep as well as you thought.

4. You Lucid Dream

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Have you ever been asleep and dreaming, but still somehow in control of your thoughts? This is known as lucid dreaming, and it can be a sign you’re under a lot of stress — and thus probably not sleeping very well.

“In lucid dreams, consciousness and dreaming overlap, creating a sense of awareness during sleep,” MacDowell says. “Lucid dreaming appears to happen during transitions from one stage of sleep to another, or from REM sleep to waking up. Lucid dreams are associated with high levels of activity in the brain, which can sometimes result from stress or anxiety.”

If you keep having lucid dreams, let a doctor know. They might want to suggest ways to help you cope with excess stress and anxiety, so you can get better sleep.

5. You Experience Nightmares

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If you have frequent nightmares, MacDowell says there’s a good chance you aren’t sleeping well, since these types of dreams tend to cause sudden waking. But they can also be a sign of a deeper issue.

“Nightmares are experienced by 80 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers, and may be an indicator of psychological trauma,” MacDowell says. “Anxiety and depression are two common causes of nightmares, which can also be an early sign of mood disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

If you experience nightmares on a regular basis, let a doctor know so they can address the underlying cause.

6. You Have Recurring Dreams

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Recurring dreams are also associated with an unresolved emotional issue or trauma, MacDowell says. And unfortunately, that can impair your ability to sleep.

“Recurring dreams don’t always indicate poor quality sleep, but may if they result from an emotional disturbance or trauma that causes frequent awakening or stress,” she says.

For issues you’ve yet to overcome, therapy can help you learn how to address them, in a comfortable environment. You might find that processing through these emotions leads to better sleep.

7. You Have Multiple Dreams

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If you have more than one dream per night, it could be a sign you went through multiple sleep cycles, and woke up momentarily after each one — which is when you’re the most likely to remember what they were all about.

And yet, since REM is a part of each sleep cycle, Gailing says it’s possible to have multiple dreams per night, even if you don’t remember them.

Again, everyone is different when it comes to the types of dreams they have. And just because you experience these dreams doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

If you’re concerned, you can let a doctor know about things like nightmares, recurring dreams, or a total lack of dreams. But as long as you wake up feeling refreshed, you might want to consider your dreams just another — somewhat mysterious — part of life.

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

Watch Your Thoughts For They Become Your Destiny

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“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.’

— Frank Outlaw

What we think, we become.

Reality is not neutral. We are always passing judgment on what happens around us. You and I can face the same event, yet will react differently — our thoughts shape our reality, not the other way around.

That’s why most people suggest we think positively — it has become an oversimplified approach to make us feel better.

“Be positive” can be terrible advice.

Telling someone who’s sad or depressed that positive thoughts will change their mental state, can be detrimental. Similarly, being overly optimistic can blind our reality.

Positive thinking is not what you think. We must embrace our whole self, not just the bright side.

The color of your soul

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius

Our society loves black or white assessments — you are either an optimist or a pessimist.

Labels are a heavy burden — we get stuck in one place, rather than exploring our possibilities. Our self is fluid. We all have positive or negative thoughts or positive and negative moments.

Pretending to be always happy is harmful. We focus on one aspect and fail to see our blind spots. Labeling oneself as a negative person doesn’t help either — we overplay our dramas and become victims of self-pity.

Research shows that optimists perceive less stress because either they are better able to cope with adversity or because of their positive view. However, when facing severe challenges, optimists suffer a lower immune response than pessimists.

Curiously, a strong belief in hope can make optimists think they can achieve anything they want to, just by trying hard. This perfectionist view can lead to unrealistic expectations — positive thinking can’t make everything come true.

We are not our thoughts, because they are always changing. Understanding our fluid nature is critical to continue growing — we are work in progress, not a finished product.

Bad thoughts are harmful — they create more suffering. However, avoiding our negative emotions won’t make them go away.

The problem with optimism

There’s nothing wrong with negative emotions. We all have them. They are a fundamental part of who we are — emotions express our basic intelligence and energy.

Positivity is a fluid state, not a status. You are not either positive or negative. Overplaying one aspect is deceiving — you must embrace your entire self.

“In America, optimism has become almost like a cult,” the social psychologist Aaron Sackett told Psychology Today. Or, as another American psychologist added, “In this country, pessimism comes with a deep stigma.”

Optimism has become a pervasive dogma. Pessimism gets a bad rap, but positive thinking can be brutally enforced.

“It’s gotten to the point where people really feel pressure to think and talk in an optimistic way,” observes B. Cade Massey, a professor of organizational behavior.

Massey’s research shows that, when asked to forecast the outcomes of events such as a financial investment or a surgical procedure, people make overly optimistic predictions. And wish to be even more optimistic. Many of us have drunk the ‘positivity Kool-Aid’ — We believe optimism is the solution for all our problems.

I’m not advocating in favor or against optimism, but to break free from labeling ourselves. A positive approach to life requires embracing both sides rather than living in an exaggerated — positive or negative — fantasy.

Happiness is a state of mind, not something we acquire. We spend more time contemplating what’s missing in our lives rather than what we have. That’s why we suffer.

You are what you think you are

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” ― Buddha

Connecting to your emotions allows you to respond without reacting — you don’t let judgments or preconceptions shape your behavior. Instead, you decide to explore and understand your emotions — you feed compassion and wisdom, not anger.

Your thoughts define your reality.

The problem with idealizing positive thinking is trying to hide the negativity within us. Bringing a positive spin to what happens is not enough. You must confront and accept all your emotions. And understand how they shape your version of reality.

There’s a difference between our imagined experience ‘in here’ and what’s going on ‘out there.’

As Domyo Burk said, “For me, there is no reality ‘out there,’ separate from my mind; I will never be able to perceive a thing without the involvement of my mind. And what is the use of any reality ‘out there’ that can’t ever be perceived? In a sense, reality is born as we perceive it.”

That doesn’t mean there’s no objective reality. But that our reality lies in the intersection between an object (an event) and a subject (we).

Buddhism has an interesting view of the relationship between positive mind states and reality. It acknowledges the effect of positive thinking on our subjective experience — It’s more pleasant to feel relaxed than upset. If we consciously transform the way we relate to an experience, we can change its nature.

Positive thinking is not doing something to make you feel better, but to stop fighting reality — both positive and negative.

Change your reality with positive thinking

The way we experience something is determined by what we think about it. Positive thinking is helpful. But it only works if you accept your entire reality, not just the bright side. Self-acceptance is our foundation — we can build a stronger life.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus realized this 2,000 years ago when he said, “People are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles.”
Say a car cuts you off when you are driving on a highway. The driver was probably in a hurry and didn’t notice you. It could have caused an accident. How would you react?

It’s normal to get upset or feel attacked — your own self-concern arises, and you want to fight back. Instead, you could try to take some emotional distance and avoid reacting. Imagine you are the driver who cut someone else off. Would you like the person to get mad at you or to be patient and forgiving?

By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we avoid being taken by negativity. Empathy provides room for understanding reality rather than reacting to it.

Life is full of possibilities — you can’t control what happens to you, but you can manage how you react.

Albert Ellis, the father of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, discovered that how we react to an event is determined mainly by our view of the incident, not what happened. He believed that people don’t just get upset but contribute to their upset-ness.

Ellis said, “Too many people are unaware that it is not outer events or circumstances that will create happiness; rather, it is our perception of events and of ourselves that will create, or uncreate, positive emotions.”

Blaming never helps; it just feeds negativity. Epictetus believed that those who are perfectly instructed would place blame neither on others nor on themselves. Being in charge of our life requires commanding our emotions.

Let your destiny define your thoughts

The mind is an interesting, powerful ally — mindfulness helps us become more familiar with ourselves.

According to Thich Nhat Hanh, accepting our emotions is key to practice mindfulness correctly: “In mindfulness, one is not only restful and happy but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

The Vietnamese monk and peace activist believes that many of us have the wrong idea about what happiness is. We think that we need to be positive all the time, but happiness is about being present. We appreciate the here and now.

We all need stars to help us navigate our darkest nights. Your life’s purpose provides clarity, so you don’t crash when navigating troubled waters. It helps your mind steer in the right direction. And reach your destiny.

Your life purpose should define your thoughts, not the other way around.

No matter how negative your reality, your purpose gives you the strength to keep moving forward. It provides a positive outlook. Your purpose brings meaning to your life. When you control your destiny, you control your thoughts.

As Albert Ellis said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

The most meaningful purpose of life is to be helpful, not happy.

People who are generous, who genuinely try to help others are more likely to succeed. Generosity doesn’t empty but fills your tank. As Buddha said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Having a positive approach to life doesn’t mean being overly optimistic. We must become the best version of ourselves, not a fantasy. Our purpose is “to do the best we can, given a set of circumstances and our current dispositions,” as Isabelle Payette wrote here.

Our life will always have both positive and negative experiences. We can choose to add more negativity. And create more suffering. Or we can accept life as is. It’s on us to build our own heaven or hell.

— — —

Positive thinking is not magical thinking — accepting our whole self makes us more self-reliant. Embracing your negative side will help you become more patient and tolerant. It makes it easier to see the good within you and others.

Watch your thoughts because they become your destiny. Better indeed, watch your destiny, and your thoughts will help you get there.

Gustavo Razzetti is a change instigator that helps organizations lead positive change. Author, Consultant, and Speaker on team building and cultural transformation.

This article first appeared on Medium.

Lucid Dreamers May Help Unravel the Mystery of Consciousness

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We spend around six years of our lives dreaming – that’s 2,190 days or 52,560 hours. Although we can be aware of the perceptions and emotions we experience in our dreams, we are not conscious in the same way as when we’re awake. This explains why we can’t recognize that we’re in a dream and often mistake these bizarre narratives for reality.

But some people – lucid dreamers – have the ability to experience awareness during their dreams by “re-awakening” some aspects of their waking consciousness. They can even take control and act with intention in the dream world (think Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Inception).

Lucid dreaming is still an understudied subject, but recent advances suggest it’s a hybrid state of waking consciousness and sleep.

Sleep paralysis. My Dream, My Bad Dream, 1915. (Credit: Fritz Schwimbeck/Wikimedia)

Lucid dreaming is one of many “anomalous” experiences that can occur during sleep. Sleep paralysis, where you wake up terrified and paralyzed while remaining in a state of sleep, is another. There are also false awakenings, where you believe you have woken up only to discover that you are in fact dreaming. Along with lucid dreams, all these experiences reflect an increase in subjective awareness while remaining in a state of sleep. To find out more about the transitions between these states – and hopefully consciousness itself – we have launched a large-scale online survey on sleep experiences to look at the relationships between these different states of hybrid consciousness.

Lucid Dreaming and the Brain

About half of us will experience at least one lucid dream in our lives. And it could be something to look forward to because it allows people to simulate desired scenarios from meeting the love of their life to winning a medieval battle. There is some evidence that lucid dreaming can be induced, and a number of large online communities now exist where users share tips and tricks for achieving greater lucidity during their dreams (such as having dream totems, a familiar object from the waking world that can help determine if you are in a dream, or spinning around in dreams to stop lucidity from slipping away).

recent study that asked participants to report in detail on their most recent dream found that lucid (compared to non-lucid) dreams were indeed characterized by far greater insight into the fact that the sleeper was in a dream. Participants who experienced lucid dreams also said they had greater control over thoughts and actions within the dream, had the ability to think logically, and were even better at accessing real memories of their waking life.

Another study looking at people’s ability to make conscious decisions in waking life as well as during lucid and non-lucid dreams found a large degree of overlap between volitional abilities when we are awake and when we are having lucid dreams. However, the ability to plan was considerably worse in lucid dreams compared to wakefulness.

Lucid and non-lucid dreams certainly feel subjectively different and this might suggest that they are associated with different patterns of brain activity. But confirming this is not as easy as it might seem. Participants have to be in a brain scanner overnight and researchers have to decipher when a lucid dream is happening so that they can compare brain activity during the lucid dream with that of non-lucid dreaming.

Ingenious studies examining this have devised a communication code between lucid dreamer participants and researchers during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, when dreaming typically takes place. Before going to sleep, the participant and the researcher agree on a specific eye movement (for example two movements left then two movements right) that participants make to signal that they are lucid.

The prefrontal cortex. (Credit: Natalie M. Zahr, Ph.D., and Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D. – Natalie M. Zahr, Ph.D., and Edith V. Sullivan, Ph.D.)

By using this approach, studies have found that the shift from non-lucid to lucid REM sleep is associated with an increased activity of the frontal areas of the brain. Significantly, these areas are associated with “higher order” cognitive functioning such as logical reasoning and voluntary behaviour which are typically only observed during waking states. The type of brain activity observed, gamma wave activity, is also known to allow different aspects of our experience; perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and memories to “bind” together into an integrated consciousness. A follow-up study found that electrically stimulating these areas caused an increase in the degree of lucidity experienced during a dream.

Another study more accurately specified the brain regionsinvolved in lucid dreams, and found increased activity in regions such as the pre-frontal cortex and the precuneus. These brain areas are associated with higher cognitive abilities such as self-referential processing and a sense of agency – again supporting the view that lucid dreaming is a hybrid state of consciousness.

Tackling the Consciousness Problem

How consciousness arises in the brain is one of the most perplexing questions in neuroscience. But it has been suggestedthat studying lucid dreams could pave the way for new insights into the neuroscience of consciousness.

This is because lucid and non-lucid REM sleep are two states where our conscious experience is markedly different, yet the overall brain state remains the same (we are in REM sleep all the time, often dreaming). By comparing specific differences in brain activity from a lucid dream with a non-lucid one, then, we can look at features that may be facilitating the enhanced awareness experienced in the lucid dream.

Furthermore, by using eye signaling as a marker of when a sleeper is in a lucid dream, it is possible to study the neurobiological activity at this point to further understand not only what characterizes and maintains this heightened consciousness, but how it emerges in the first place.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Are Constant Nightmares A Sign Of Mental Health Problems?

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Constantly having nightmares can be very stressful on mental health. It disrupts your sleep; your mind doesn’t get the rest it needs and you could wake up feeling down, tired or sleep-deprived, which in turn affects your day-to-day activity. But why do these unhelpful dreams sneak their way into your head and are they a sign that something bigger is going on in your life? It can be particularly difficult to deal with a barrage of nightmares if you aren’t aware of any mental health issues that you’re suffering, because you might not have tools to deal with these issues. We find out what having consistent nightmares can be an indication of and how to manage them (so that you can finally get a good night’s rest). What causes nightmares? Nightmares usually occur during REM sleep – similar to dreams – and although they can be a sign of an underlying issue, they’re not always this complex. According to WebMD, having a snack late at night can trigger nightmares as it boosts your metabolism and tells your brain to ‘be more active’. Taking medication or coming off medication can also stimulate nightmares, as can alcohol withdrawal. You get less REM sleep when you drink, and although it may seem tempting to have a nightcap, reduced REM sleep also means your mind’s ability to process dreams is impaired – so you might not be able to deal with what you’re dreaming about. Interestingly, sleep-deprivation in itself can also lead to nightmares, meaning you’re effectively stuck in a loop of bad sleep. A study from 2016, which measured the role of insomnia, nightmares and chronotype (essentially your biological clock) in relation to mental illness revealed that 8% to 18% of the population is ‘dissatisfied’ with their quality of sleep, and between 6% to 10% suffer with some form of insomnia disorder. The same study showed that a disruption in sleep patterns ‘commonly presents prior to acute psychiatric difficulties’, such as a manic episode, paranoia or ‘transition to major depression’. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) Lola, 21, is currently going through a phase of sleep disruption – she’s only sleeping a few hours per night and when she does, her sleep frequently consists of nightmares. ‘After every night’s sleep, I wake up and remember the wholly vivid nightmares I’ve just had’, she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘They vary from being a mash-up of several short intertwined dreams about people, some good that I don’t want to wake up from, but mostly horrible ones. ‘Sometimes they involve people from my life, sometimes faceless figures, which makes it even more creepy. Mostly I will wake up intermittently throughout the night. ‘I’ve had dreams of my teeth crumbling out of my mouth and anxiety nightmares, where I spend the entire time feeling anxious within the dream. ‘When I wake up, I’m worn out and extremely tired, which makes me not want to get out of bed – it’s paralysing. I’ve pretty much had nightmares my whole life, but they never used to be as frequent as they are now. They definitely happen more when I’m stressed or anxious, but I’ve never spoken to anyone about them because I’m so used to it.’ When should you seek help for your nightmares? Just like mental health problems are very individual, so are nightmares, and having the occasional one doesn’t automatically mean you also have a mental health problem. Therapist Sally Baker tells Metro.co.uk it’s how these affect you that could be a sign of something troubling underneath the surface. ‘Occasional nightmares are completely normal and many people experience them,’ she said. ‘It is how you feel about having those nightmares and the judgements you make about them that indicates how you are feeling about yourself and can give you insights into whether you are feeling emotionally balanced and okay, or may need to seek professional help. ‘Dreams and nightmares are one of the ways the sub-conscious mind processes emotional challenges, so recurring nightmares can be a clue that your mind is struggling to cope with real life negative emotions or events. ‘The nightmares may even vary with different narratives but if they engender the same feelings on waking from them such as heightened anxiety or feeling of dread you are definitely struggling to process.’ How can you deal with constant nightmares? Hayley, 30, has suffered from night terrors for years and tells Metro.co.uk these are similar to nightmares, but completely ‘take over’ her mind. ‘It’s hard to deal with them, as I’m not sure when they will happen,’ she said. ‘I can go for nights without anything and then bam, suddenly I’m screaming in my sleep. The main difference between nightmares and night terrors is that night terrors completely take over. I also remember them a lot more vividly than nightmares. ‘They’re always the same – someone is trying to kill me. ‘Counselling helps and communicating what happens in my night terrors helps too, as it allows me to process and understand what’s happening in my head. ‘For example, whenever they happen, it’s always in the flat I lived in with my mum and I have a lot of negative emotions and memories in that place that I’ve never addressed. ‘The night terrors have actually allowed me to understand this and address these fears directly. ‘I often find if I’m relaxed or I’ve done a workout in the evening, this will rest my mind but ironically, my night terrors seem to be worse when things are going great – it’s a cruel twist.’ Sally also recommends speaking with a therapist about your nightmares, especially if you experience persistent after effects or if they’re anxiety-inducing. ‘If you are left with heightened anxiety or depression after recurrent nightmares, you can work with a therapist to resolve the negative emotions even when you are not sure what is bothering you,’ she said. ‘Be your own detective and focus on the feelings you’re left with, not the storyline of your nightmares as that will be more helpful in finding out what is at the root of your scary or disturbing dreams. ‘Also ask yourself what you may have been ignoring in your life or overlooking. ‘Your intuition or your gut reactions are always on your side and are your best friend, so ask yourself what have you been overriding in your life that in your heart of hearts you’re not really sure about.’ MORE: HEALTH You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I have MS but I get told to give up my train seat’ Will a CBD spree of workouts, croissants, and high tea get rid of your stress? Teenager uses coffee to colour her hair after dye left her looking ‘like a monster’ Having singular nightmares are usually not a sign of mental health problems. But if you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and suffering from nightmares or even night terrors, it’s worthwhile speaking to a medical or mental health professional about it. Don’t ignore your sub-conscious mind – it can be just as telling as your conscious one.

 

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/17/constant-nightmares-sign-mental-health-problems-8649694/?ito=cbshare

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5 Unexpected Ways Dreaming Can Improve Your Health

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By ALLI HOFF KOSIK

Dreams can be tricky things. They may reveal your biggest aspirations — a huge success at work, the marriage proposal you’ve been waiting for, a visit to one of your bucket list destinations — or your greatest fears. They can keep you up at night or draw you so deeply into sleep that you find yourself dozing past the alarm.You may remember them in great detail or forget that they ever even happened. Beyond their mystery, dreams are associated with physical, mental, and emotional well-being in ways that might surprise you. Terry Cralle, registered nurse and clinical sleep educator and consultant for Saatva, tells us that there are five ways in particular that dreaming can boost your overall health and quality of life.

Keep reading to learn more, then cross your fingers and hope for dreams next time you’re counting sheep.

1. Dreams can offer a new point of view

Most people have experienced those dreams that put them in the odd position of watching themselves from the outside. They can sometimes be creepy, but these out-of-body dreams may also improve your mental health by giving you a unique perspective from which to consider what’s happening IRL. A new perspective might be just what you need to create a new go-forward plan in a relationship or tricky work situation that’s been weighing you down.

2. They’ll prepare you for challenges and stressful circumstances

No one likes a nightmare, of course, but scary dreams prime your brain to more effectively manage anxiety and perceived danger. By experiencing negative emotions in your dreams, you’ll likely find yourself more ready to deal with high-stress situations in your waking hours.

3. Dreaming is linked to sleeping more soundly

Cralle notes that researchers have looked at dreams as “sleep guardians who protect your beauty rest” ever since the days of Freud, who was the first to propose that they prevent sleep disruption. Research shows that people who dream less frequently experience more sleep issues than those who are often frolicking in dreamland.

4. Dreams help reinforce your memory

According to Cralle, dreaming has been shown to strengthen our memories and help us better absorb new information during the day. Even dreams that seem totally unrelated to a moment you’ve experienced while awake may help you process and remember information old and new. Many of us experience memory loss as we age, so in a way, dreaming can help keep us young!

5. They promote a more consistently positive mood

“Researchers have found that the more dreams you have in a night, the more your disposition changes,” Cralle shares. “In other words, those seemingly random dreams can actually moderate your mood, causing you to wake up cheerier and ready to take on the day.” And don’t we all need a little mood boost every once in a while?