Category Archives: Brain

Turkey dreams

Q: Does eating Turkey really help increase serotonin and make my xmass dreams more funky.

Firstly Turkey does help increase serotonin intake BUT this does not make xmass or thanksgiving dreams more funky.

If your like me, on xmass or thanksgiving day you eat some Turkey, some bread, fruits, salads, a few roast vegetables, maybe some dip and a whole lot of pudding. While you do this you often also drink a substantial amount of Alcohol.  Which as you can guess is actuly our “weirdness” culprit. Alcohol is the big doosey here for every article on how serotonin alone (not just Turkey) affects sleep, depression, etc., there are at least 5 more on Alcohol and its effect on sleep and the body. Your weird xmass dreams are also effected because, you guessed it, you expect to have them. You have had them in the past, everyone talks about them and its a fun way to spend the rest of the day when you wake up and don’t feel like moving as you have a pretty full belly.

Turkey and its effect on sleep is partly myth, partly reality. Preprocessed Turkey (like deli-meat) will be different to non-preprocessed (fresh cooked at home) as well, due what they do to processed meat (more salt, more fat, more accessible protein). If you really want a deit that will give you better “happy dreams” I am afraid that 1 meal Turkey is more likely to just give you a case of gas. Serotonin intake is also affected by everything else you consume on xmass day. And the thing is messing around with Serotonin isn’t something we should just do because we like weird dreams.

Serotonin doesn’t just give us the “happy” feeling, it also does other stuff, and having lots of it will actuly make you nuts. Were talking barking-foam-mad-dog mental asylum nuts here. You want to increase and decrease serotonin slowly and not without the help of real doctor or psychiatrist. 

Eating heaps of Turkey for a while may make your feelings, dreams and behavior change ever so slightly, but the serotonin is converted by your body, your body will stop converting it when you reach whatever level is normal for you and the rest will just end up in the toilet.

If you want to change your diet to get better dreams your better off doing, you guessed it, what every health expert pretty much tells you about diet. Mostly fruit and vegetables, medium grain and pulse, some meat and cheese; not to much and plenty of fresh water; Skip out on Caffeine and Alcohol drinks. Although yes alcohol helped you with the “weird” dream, the “weird” dream effect is diminishing. The longer and more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to do damage and cause issues.

Republished due to high search count. 

For the night is dark and full of fiction

It’s been a very long time between posts on my dreaming interpretation blog. I have written quite a bit of poetry over at my other blog (http://enigmagarden.wordpress.com/) though, so if you feel like some poems / fiction sometimes inspired by dreams head over there.

My counsellor asked me the other day how common it is to have dreams influenced by popular culture. I.e. Game of Thrones (title for the reference).

Again, and again I come back to these sorts of questions “how common is it?” Well no one knows for sure. The complete lack of properly done, authorative peer-reviewed statistics on dreams is clearly the biggest issue. It’s probably also really hard to do. New “Apps” such as SHADOW and the like try to help, but either fail the ethics test so hard it’s not funny or are clearly not independent of commercialism, lack basic privacy tests or even worse contain upfront bias. The good stats on “commonality” of dreams are a long way off.

Being the massive cynic I am, it’s probably better just to answer “generally it’s very common”.

Putting aside any other inputs, fiction is a pretty big one, and readings, watching, listening to fiction will make it appear in your dreams. Your brain will use fiction to create dreams. Why? Well from my theory of the evolution of dreams, animals started dreaming because it was a safe way to practice hunting or surviving when you had this otherwise useless downtime. The creatures that got creative with this and used it to help them work out problems as well did even better. Sure enough with enough evolution stories would replay in dreams pretty easily as you could use the lessons from the stories as learning. It would help imprint the lesson into your memory and make it even more useful to you. It helped a lot if you could relate to the story.

This is why stories that show even pretty nasty aspects of humanity like Game of Thrones will be replayed in our minds. We can relate to the characters, even the nasty ones. We can learn what they learn and work out how to do better. So that’s why fiction replays happen in our dreams very commonly.

List of reality checks

1. Try to draw a yellow circle on your hand. Do three circles on your palm or the back of your hand. Do a circle in the air or on any surface. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

2. Pinch your nose as you try to breathe in. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

3. Pick a spot in your line of sight not right in front of you, look at that spot then any other place taking note of its color and shape. Look back at the first spot. Look back again and say “I am in reality” (note needs to be inside a car/bus/etc if on the move).

4. Pinch yourself. If it hurts say “I am in reality”.

Others to be added as I hear of them.

States of sleep

States of going to sleep

Thus us a general info post for my reference to later. Also for those whom like my non-nonsense writing. This is sorted into the “general hierarchy” which is erroneous due to its simplistic nature. It is also somewhat misleading as its more a cycle than a hierarchy. Pretty much all parts of this cycle happen multiple times during a nights sleep.

  • Awake
  • Your waking state. Its self explanatory what this is. Its the state in which you are in to read this blog post.

  • Pre-sleep
  • As you start to go to sleep, you go into a pre-sleep state. This is what is sometimes refer to as “transitive”. Some meditative states are very much like “pre-sleep”. Some dreams occur hear, often vague. The “pre-sleep” is much like a micosleep and does not induce sensory shut down.

  • Sensory shut down
  • This is where your body shuts down when you go to sleep. It does this to stop you hurting yourself as you brain has to remain a little active in all regions (including movement) while you sleep. Some sections of your brain “shut down”, more than others.

    Neurologically speaking this is often where things like sleepwalking and speaking while you sleep happens. It is a MYTH you should not wake a sleepwalker. Wake that sucker for their safety, or secure them if you are unable to.

    Sensory shut down can fail, and some sleepers will not enter this phase for any number of reasons. A sleep doctor may be able to help with this.

  • Hypnagogic OR Hynogagic state
  • This is in fact often while you have sensory shut down. This occurs both while you go to sleep and while you wake up. Both happen. Both are slightly different in term of the neurological stuff that goes on. There are nuerochemical, neuroelecrictal stuff that happens while you sleep, and nap. Both are slightly different. Explaining exactly what happens us a long and involved process for a later post.

    This is a first state of restful sleep. If you don’t go to this state you will probably wake without having rested. It is also “transitive” as you can go from here into full dreaming very quickly. OBEE’s also happen in this state and you can keep it going for some time. Shamans often can also enter into this state during trances. Again a big topic for future posts.

  • REM Sleep
  • Rapid Eye Movement sleep is when we enter a dreaming state. Most states if sleep involve a level of dreaming. During this stage one can actually see someone dreaming by looking at your eye movement. It’s from this movement that a lot of wearable REM lucid induction devices are based.

    Entering into REM sleep happens about 8-15 times a evening, and most naps enter REM but don’t go any further. Dreaming is often quite illogical in this state, but will easily be categorized into the memory, psychology and neurology model I have mentioned.

  • NREM sleep
  • This was the most vague of all states of sleep. It was also Scientifically very hard to pin down as NREM just means not REM which could be some of the states above REM and the others below it. Some campaign to name change this state, but no ones come up with a good name as of yet.

    NREM can include dreaming, having a dream in this state is usual. It used to be erroneously believed that this state was not dream conducive or you did not dream during it. Clearly proved incorrect now, this state is now defined by measuring brain activity. Certain brain waves where then used to define other states. Most of this work was done in the 1970s with some follow up, now MRI technology is being used to try an determine further steps in the dreaming/sleeping process and how neurological activity occurred.

    Dreams in this state are a more logical and more “sensible” type in comparison to REM dreams.

  • Deep sleep
  • You enter a deep sleep (also brain wave defined in the 70s) about 1-3 times a night. Lack of deep sleep in a long period is associated with depression and anxiety, as well as other health conditions. Often deep sleep is dreamless, but a dreamer may easily remember a dream from one “side” of a deep sleep to the other. Dreams can occur in this state, so it’s not certain exactly what is going on.

  • Unconscious
  • This is a interesting one as it is defined as both any state of sleep as well as a state if sleep beyond deep where no brain activity happens in the cortexes commonly associated with dreaming. It’s generally assumed that this state does not occur with natural sleep.

    Real you?

    There is sometimes this whole “which one is the real me?” debate that goes on when people ask about conscience vs unconscience. Is one a more “real” version of you?

    The issue with this is..

    it’s a bad question.

    You are actually setting up your own internal straw man. It’s like asking if the roof or the floor of the building is more real than each other. It’s like asking if the moon or sun is more important to life. You need one for the other and to some extent vice versa.

    The debate comes from free will, as in the ability to make conscience decisions. We staple the idea that we make these decisions in a “reality” that we have all agreed is physically real as the rules of this reality are observably the same. But we are each of us deceived! The reality is constructed by a human thought in the first place. We agreed that an item was called a ball, or toilet, and so on. We can get more and more existential here.

    Thing is we can’t have a conscience without a unconscience. We can have a unconscience without a conscience though. We think that’s possible based on observation of other life. But since we discretely can’t actually observe it outselves? Oh… Hang on what about dreams?

    Conscience can exist in dreams, as otherwise lucid dreaming would not exist. To be perfectly honest, I suspect (I can’t prove this of course, it’s deep philosophy that’s beyond me) that we can have conscience decisions even without lucidity in dreams. Dreams are in part a communication device between the conscience and unconscience.

    How do we know unconscienceness exists at all?

    We can observe its actions fairly simply.
    Think of a tree.
    Now what sort of tree is it?
    What colour is its leaves?
    Does it have a bird nest in it?

    Most of you will think of a tree, know what sort it is immediately, know how green, yellow, red, or absent it’s leaves are. You might have more detail in if your imagination likes to get busy with such things.

    This is called visualization. It’s a really neat tool used by psychologists, dreamworkers, and so on. It’s active imagination, making you use both your conscience and unconscience at the same time. We (humans) do it all the time. We are reasonably certain a fair number of animals do it too. Our two (they are really one) minds work together to create a image that we can then work with. That image can even be stores for later use.

    Why do we have these two minds?

    Essentially, the universe is big. Really, really big. We simply can’t process all of it. When we look at a person we memorize only a small part of their face and if we never see them again we forget them. The same thing happens to most things we see and encounter. We get the more important images and tie those up with a memory. Our unconscious then stores it.

    There is so much data that we have to do this asleep, as well as awake. We shut down the rest of our body. As a byproduct we get memories and images from our day and experiences in our dreams. Our waking mind can then possibly use these dream memories for interpreting what we might have learned, not learned, and for working with characters out mind creates out of the dreams.

    The real you is both. And really it needs to be that way.

    Overcoming the bad guys with lucidity

    Much has actually been written on this topic already. Stephen LeBarge (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_LaBerge) being the most notable, his MILD method being one that is commonly used. Although the most common, some will find the MILD method difficult. The rewards for overcoming fears are however stark. A MILD practitioner can insert a fear to be overcome in the mnemonic used to induce the lucid dream.

    I will lucid dream, I will face my fear of spiders, I will lucid dream, I am going to overcome my fear, I will lucid dream

    Might be a very simple mnemonic that a person who fears spiders might use to encounter the fear within the “safe” dreamscape. This isn’t the only thing one might do, in fact overcoming a fear might not be as simple as this. Some may need many encounters with the dream fear, some may need to seek other psychological help. It’s entirely possible to become more fearful of a specific fear based on a dream encounter.

    Raising the success
    Regardless of lucidity method, success of overcoming fears in dreams may require several differing extra things.

    1. Practice as a lucid dreamer.
    First lucid dream I had, I was awake again in 5 seconds flat. It takes time to get used to the sensation. It takes effort to work out how to do thing. Especially awesome things like fly, get arms added to your dream persona, cast “spells” in dreams (the special effects limited only by your dreaming imagination).

    2. Dream time ritual
    We’re not noting the big old casting a circle, calling the gods of dreaming and so on. Ritual means to do things in a way that activates the mind (kinda) and a common method of going to bed with the intention to lucid dream, doing the same mnemonic every time, doing the same getting ready for bed, water, pen, slide in from the left, etc. This is a ritual that your mind takes a note of, both consciencely and unconsciously. It will help you lucid dream longer.

    3. Read lucid dreaming books, and articles. (Mine are here:https://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/tag/lucidity/ and https://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/tag/lucid-dreams/ and https://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/the-who-why-what-were-and-how-of-lucid-dreaming/ )

    4. Write in a personal journal. A personal journal helps you recap your day, write about how the fear effects your daily routine (if it does).

    5. Write about the fear, what tools you could use to overcome it in the real world, and the dreamland.

    Tricksters

    Our fears can often manifest in the Jungian Shadow and be characterized in a form of malicious Trickster (see the article I wrote on these here:https://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/tag/tricksters/ )
    A trickster as a fear can be a bit harder to overcome. Many fears are based on a memory or event, taking this memory and re-dreaming it (evoking the memory then entering a dream state) then using the dream tools you have to try and combat or resolve the fear, is one method that some teach. The issue with this method is the ability to abuse it. A memory evoking, can if not done well cause continuing flashbacks. Thus this is a tool only those advanced in the art or psychologists should use.

    The better method to use would be to purposely MILD into a dream with the trickster in question (give them a name) and combat or resolve them this way. Again, a psychologist might be a good consult for this method. Dream characters can fight back, making sure your in a position of power and safety in such a situation is paramount to making this a success.

    Were are monsters? In dreams.

    I have already mentioned how holistic dream interpretation takes our physchology, neurology and memories as discrete spheres or universes of information from which are dreaming content is built. How we can use it, I still need to explain.

    Lets take a nightmare, as an example. One of mine, since that as I also mentioned before:

    you are always the best person to interpret your own dreams

    I will use the one I had last night, since it is fresh.

    I am sleeping on the couch as a sound wakes me up. In the corridor that enters the lounge room the light is on. It’s yellow glow is comforting. Then a noise, like the screeching of tires made of nails on a chalkboard. I see the light disappear and I am confronted with a grey and intense fear. I scream for help but it comes out as a pathetic mew. I do what is best and force myself to wake.

    Now we take each of our universes and connect the dots, as it where.

    I would first look at the fear and comfort as both being psychologically linked to the dream. Both threads are connected to my memories of feeling both of theses emotions. I have experienced them before so I know how they feel. Neurology comes in form of connecting each of these to a given situation that’s then fed back to a memory. We can also connect each character. Yellow light is delight, comfort. Absence of light, and grey are fear. The couch is a place of neutrality, a object that has no connection other than one to the feeling of sleep and dreaming itself. The lounge room is a setting for which my memory has pulled as where I actually fell asleep at least at one point and the tactile feeling of doing so is drawn into the dream itself. Finally the self is the character experiencing these things. The body is the object that feels fm fear and joy, has those feelings attached with each other.

    As you can see we can go quite deep into this. We can get more content from each dream, actually look at each character in a objective and subjective way. Both are good, and together we can find answers to one of our big mysteries in dreams like why do I have nightmares that focus my fear on certain events.
    It’s clear I don’t like the color grey. I quite like the color yellow. I have memories and experiences that have been attached to both deep within my psychology and even neurology. It’s a legitimate fear for me, and I seem to want to escape from it.

    But how would I escape from such a fear?
    Only deep psychologists might know. I am only a armature. Dreamwork can help us escape, but it is only one tool. A tool that’s effective, but can be easily corrupted by our own mind. This is a topic for further exploration in the coming weeks.