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.

Why My Husband and I Sleep in Separate Rooms

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This post is written by contributor Chelsea Becker

Here’s something you might not hear every day, but my husband and I have our own bedrooms. Yep! He has a room with his own bed, closet, TV, and video games. And in my room, my clothes, my favorite bedding, and a drawer full of face masks. Whenever this comes up with new people, they give me a side eye or immediately think something’s wrong with our relationship, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re very happy together – separate bedrooms and all. Why the seperate bedrooms then?

I have sleep anxiety

This is the backbone of why we have our own rooms, so I’ll start here. I’ve struggled with falling asleep for decades, and especially when someone else is in the room, I have sleep anxiety (more on that here). On top of that, my husband snores, so falling asleep with him snoring is next to impossible for me.

While we slept in the same room for years as we didn’t always have enough space for our own rooms, I just dealt with the anxiety. It wasn’t healthy, as me not sleeping was detrimental, and my anxiety was really bad. Neither of us wanted to sleep on the couch, so I dealt with it – but as soon as we could, we got a place with multiple bedrooms to have extra space.

Sleep is too important

Without sleep, no one is their best. Even when we got a guest space, my husband and I would try to sleep together and then I’d kick him out once the snoring got bad – or I’d toss and turn and finally head to the guest room. Me constantly waking him to turn to his side made him sleep shitty, and me waking up in different rooms wasn’t great for my zzz’s either.

After a certain point, we realized it was crazy! We were grumpy in the morning and always tired at work and whyyy? Soon after that, we decided to split up the rooms and started getting better sleep.

It doesn’t bug us

When he moved to the guest room, we said we’d see how it went. If we felt disconnected or weird, we’d move back to one room. But guess what? Neither of us has been affected at all. In fact, I think it’s been amazing for our relationship because I’m not resentful of his snoring and he’s not worried about keeping me up.

We still have sex (and now we get to switch it up between his room or mine – ha!), cuddle on the couch until bedtime or in our beds in the morning, but we also get our own space. I’m someone who needs a lot of alone time, so I love this aspect. I get to go to bed when I want, read until I want – and he gets to watch sports until midnight. And on top of all that, he gets his area to be messy. I’m OCD about keeping things neat and he’s naturally messier, and he can just close the door if his bedroom is a hot mess. No nagging needed from me.

Funny enough, my parents have been happily married for 35 years and haven’t slept in the same room since I was in college for similar reasons. Turns out, they were on to something! At least for us, it’s been such a blessing in our relationship – and one that fits us for now. We have a baby due in April so we’ll see if anything changes, but for now, separate it is.

Have you ever considered having separate rooms?

8 Bizarre Sleep Habits From Around The World

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Would you sleep on the job?

Are your sleep habits ruining your daily life? It might be worth taking a nap on the job!

To celebrate World Sleep Day on March 15, Brother UK has taken an in-depth look at the most bizarre sleep habits from countries around the world to see if they could have an impact on productivity.

Research via the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests that lack of sleep can have a negative impact on emotion. Could naps of 20-30 minutes make for a more productive workforce, and have a positive impact on mood, concentration and attention?

Struggling to sleep? READ: How to sleep better – simple ways to get a good night’s rest

Sleep habits

1. China – Bring your bedroom to work

In factories and offices across China, the lines between bedroom and workspace are becoming increasingly blurred. Due to longer working hours, many employers now advocate a short nap after lunchtime to increase concentration. Certain offices have even installed temporary or permanent sleeping and washing facilities in their office spaces to encourage employees to stay round the clock.

2. Japan – Inemuri

Taking a nap at work could well be perceived as a sign of laziness, but not in Japan. The hectic lifestyle of Japan’s city dwellers has led to the wide-scale uptake of “inemuri”, or “sleeping whilst present”. Thanks to inemuri, Japanese workers can nap on public transport, at their desk or even during meetings – and it’s commonly seen as a sign of hard work.

Sleep habits

3. Spain – Siesta

Originating in Spain and parts of Latin America, the siesta is perhaps one of the most well-known daytime snoozing traditions across the globe. This practice might be under threat, however, with new business laws introduced in 2016 limiting how late employees can work, and effectively reducing the time they have to squeeze in an afternoon nap.

4. Italy – Riposo

Where the Spanish have a siesta, the Italians have “riposo”. Commonly taking place after lunch, riposo can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. Get us to Italy now! Frustratingly for tourists, this means that many attractions are closed throughout the day.

5. Norway – Napping outside

Take a stroll through Oslo, Helsinki or another Nordic town, and you might well see some infants taking a nap in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius. Don’t worry – they haven’t been abandoned; sleeping outdoors in the daytime is actually believed to be very good for their health.

Sleep habits

6. Indonesia – Fear sleep

Stresses of work getting you down? The ominously named ‘fear sleep’ might be the solution. Locally referred to as “todoet poeles” – the practice of fear sleep enables people to nod off instantly to avoid feelings of excessive anxiety and stress. Nodding off when your boss walks in might not be the best solution, but regular naps could well help avoid work-related worry.

7. Botswana – Sleeping on your own schedule

You should sleep when it’s dark, correct? Not quite. At least, not in Botswana. The country’s native Kung hunter-gatherer tribe are well known for sleeping only when tired, regardless of the time of day. With an increased uptake of flexi-time, rise in self-chosen hours and growth of contract-based work, could businesses be embracing the way of the Kung sooner than we think?

Sleep habits

8. USA – Silicon Valley sleepers

Though it’s not a national custom just yet, sleeping on the job is widely being embraced by some of the USA’s biggest employers. Technology and software companies are leading the napping revolution, with firms like Google going so far as to have purpose-built sleeping pods installed in their offices to help employees rest and refresh.

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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Prepare Yourself For The Best Night’s Sleep

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Getting a good night’s sleep requires more than plopping down on your bed. In fact, sleep is an active process. While we snooze, we pass through several stages of sleep, each with its own distinct physiological changes. We also alternate between non-REM (rapid eye movement) — which serves to restore the body — and REM sleep, during which we dream and restore the brain. The time you spend in these stages varies by age, but a good night’s rest means the sleep should be continuous and uninterrupted.
Dim the lights throughout the house this evening. Gradually reducing the amount of light in your home will mimic the way sunlight goes down and help trigger sleepiness.
The urge to sleep is dictated by two natural forces. Our homeostatic sleep drive helps us balance our wakefulness with sleep. “It tells us we’re only good for so many hours of alertness before we become functionally intoxicated,” says Helene Emsellem, MD, director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and author of Snooze or Lose. Our circadian rhythm, on the other hand, regulates the timing of our sleepiness and wakefulness. You can thank your circadian rhythm for that daily afternoon slump, for instance.
Both forces are highly affected by our habits, our routines and even our exposure to sunlight. So, for truly sound slumber, it’s important to respect these internal drives and do things that gear your body for sleep — some folks call this practicing good sleep hygiene. Here’s how you can ensure that you’re properly prepped for a good night’s sleep.
Move That Body
A good workout that gets your heart pumping and muscles flexing works wonders on promoting sleep. Regular physical activity makes it easier for you to get to sleep and improves the quality of your sleep. For maximum benefit, avoid rigorous activity three to four hours before bed. Body temperature rises when you exercise, which can make it hard for you to get to sleep.
Get Some Sun
Exposure to sunlight influences circadian rhythm, which is controlled by brain cells in the hypothalamus. These cells respond to light and dark signals from our environment, and set off reactions in our bodies to either wake us up or make us sleepy. In the mornings, it triggers the release of cortisol, a stimulating hormone, which raises body temperature. “Sunlight is a strong stimulus for wakefulness in humans,” says Nancy Foldvary, DO, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic and author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Sleep Disorders. “So, getting sun exposure promotes wakefulness during the day and can help people sleep at night.” Darkness, on the other hand, triggers our brains to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates circadian rhythm and promotes sleepiness.
Create A Sanctuary
Think of your bedroom as your private retreat where you go every night to be renewed. Here’s how to turn it into the ideal environment for sleep:
Look For A Mattress And A Pillow That Are Comfortable
Preferences for bedding vary widely, so be sure to test out a mattress for a good 15 minutes before you buy.
Set The Thermostat On The Cool Side
Body temperature naturally falls at night. By keeping the room cool, your body will mimic its surroundings.
Darken The Room With Shades And Curtains To Keep Out Light
You might even try using an eye mask. Darkness helps stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness.
Ditch the Electronics
Clear your bedroom of TVs, computers, and any other electronics. These gadgets emit blue light, which like any light, can cause wakefulness at night and disrupt the body’s natural inclination to sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep (and sex), so you won’t associate it with any other activity.
Don’t Smoke
Poor sleep is just one more reason you shouldn’t light up. Smokers are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers. The smokers also spent less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep. Smoking before bed pumps your body with nicotine, a stimulant that can keep you up at night. It also raises overall body temperature and elevates your heart rate and metabolism — all of which will keep you awake. To make matters worse, smokers go through withdrawal when they’re asleep, which disrupts their sleep, too.
Stick With A Routine
It doesn’t matter whether you soak in the tub, read a good book, or listen to your favorite music, the key is doing the same thing every night, so your body gets the signal that you’re prepping for sleep.
And, okay, we know you want to sleep in on the weekends and make up for the slumber lost during the week. But, don’t. Get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. Sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays will only make it hard for you to get to sleep on Sunday night, and you’ll feel less refreshed on Monday.