Tag Archives: sleep

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. 

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.

    Addressing the “Reality” of dreams

    The irony is that we all hear voices and see “things that aren’t there” when we dream, voice and visions that we do not consciously create — and that’s considered socially acceptable. It’s even acceptable, to a certain extent, to look to dreams for personal direction. But for some reason, it’s not acceptable to listen to these voices or pay attention to these images when we are awake. And the truth is that everyone hears voices and sees image in their head, even when we are awake. And I would hazard that most people have had the experience of hearing a voice or seeing an image which did not feel like it came from them. And sometimes these experiences feel … well, significant… (http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/hearing-voices-or-talking-to-ourselves/)

    Talking to “yourself” is nor acceptable as it is mentally unstable
    We could talk here about historical context, or even anthropology, we can take this to deep psychology or philosophy. The entire argument is a logical fallacy. The problem is that this is in fact http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies). Having a considerable level of experience with mentally ill people in my real life I get REALLY annoyed at this argument. It essentially is saying that your mentally ill and therefor everything you say, do, or have ever done is therefor able to be ignored. Which you can tell is a pretty stupid argument. Especially when we consider the fact that most of us, especially those who read this blog regularly will know that dreams are in fact a projection of our unconsciousness mixed with a dash of psychology and some neurology thrown in for good measure. If you think people who interact with their own unconsciousness are nuts, then I will kindly show you the door.

    Reality
    Now we have addressed that, we will go onto the idea of “Reality.”

    Philosophically speaking our dreams are real. Not a different state or reality or a different universe. They are real. You experience thought in them, conduct actions, do things that seem as “real” as they do when you are awake. Sure they seem pretty silly, or “weird” (https://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/you-are-not-weird/) when you are awake. Last night I had a dream that combined George R.R. Martins Song of Ice and Fire with Rob Balder’s and Doctor Who. We are not talking fully surreal (see
    : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhXGxNgv6Iw ), but its pretty cool. Maybe some might say its “Weird” but we have already pretty much dismissed this sort of talk as logical fallacy and even possible bullying.

    My point is, don’t worry about how “real” things are unless you really want to get a decent headache.

    You want to interact with your dream characters? Do so. No really do. Interacting with your dreams is a awesome thing to do. Are they really spirits or gods? I can’t really answer that one for you. That really up to you, and I know what I think (but this is not a blog about my opinion on those matters, my opinions on religion/philosophy go elsewhere). And to be perfectly honest I think we have better things to do then argue ourselves into yet another debate that goes nowhere.

    Worried about your mental health? Seek help from your GP or psychologist.

    10 big dreaming myths

    1. Everyone dreams

    Not true. Some people can’t due to the fact they have brain damage or are on medication that inhibit the dreaming state. Some medical conditions cause a lessening of the REM or nREM state (and other dream states).

    Almost all people do dream (including blind and deaf people), recall of dreams however is harder for some people. Lifestyle, medication, sleep time, desire to recall and even personality can effect this.

    2. People go crazy when they don’t sleep/dream

    Yes possible, but very unlikely. Generally go without sleep for long enough and you will go into a coma or be hospitalized and they will force you to sleep. When sleep deprived you will do more risky things and be inhibited. The more sleep deprived, the more likely it is to cause a problem.

    Insomnia is a real problem for which a GP or sleep doctor is needed to assist.

    3. Animals don’t dream

    Completely false, Google scholar “mammalian dream states”. Dolphins, Rats, Dogs and Cats (most dog/cats owner can tell you this), Rabits, Cows, etc. Even Snakes and reptiles have a state their mind enters into when asleep, they do not enter a coma. It can be reasonably assumed almost all animals with a brain and central nervous system dreams. Weather or not this indicated consciousness or if they are aware of dreams is a argument for the ages.

    4. Lucid dreaming will make me X

    Go mad, be sexier, scared, silly, stupid, etc. Most of these claims are false. Lucid dreaming is completely safe and almost always leads to the dreamer having a awesome nights sleep, nothing more.

    5. You can get trapped in dreams

    Not true, but you can have a “false awakening” attack were you wake up again and again but are still actually asleep. These dreams are unnervingly real and look and feel real, its often not till you are awake you notice the difference. If you suffer from them, best keep a log of the differences you notice. The movie Groundhog Day reminds me very much of someone having a false awakening attack.

    Reoccurring dreams are also an issue, best thing to do is to attempt lucid dreaming and or seek professional advice from a GP or sleep doctor.

    6. My dreams tell me the future

    Unlikely. I published a post about this here. Generally most claims of dream prediction have turned out to be false. Its possible, but VERY unlikely. Actual credited accounts backed up by multiple independent people are completely nonexistent.

    7. I can talk to God/Spirit/Goddess/Jesus/etc. in my dream

    This is completely YOUR experience and for you it is truth and for everyone else it is, well you talking to your mind. In reality that god/etc you talked you is really your own subconscious and thats fine, talking to your subconscious is awesome and I am glad you do it, but claiming to anyone but yourself that this is the TRUE WORD OF GOD is likely to get resounding bouts of laughter. Also note you REALLY DONT have to do anything this God/Spirit etc tells you to do, really, make these decisions with your waking mind with evidence and support and counsel of your partner or friends or whoever.

    8. I can die while dreaming

    Yes you can, but not from dreaming in of itself. Stroke, heart attack, hit by an asteroid, suffocate on your pillow, all possible while dreaming. Its not the dreaming state that kills you though.

    9. Waking a sleepwalker is dangerous

    Not true, wake that sucker for their safety. People have done crazy things like get in the car, get milk from the shop, cook dinner and leave the stove on while asleep. If you know your a sleepwalker and live alone, use some method to wake yourself, such as a alarm that goes off when you open your bedroom door, a bell tied to your feet, something.  Problem sleepwalkers should also consult a GP or sleep doctor.

    10. Dreams are inspirational

    Yes, yes they are.

    Now for some discussion about OBEE’s

    OBE or OOBE or OBEE (chose your acronym of preference):
    Note: I will use OBE to mean Outside (or Out) of body experiences in this post, I am entering any current discussion of their relation to NDE or Near Death experiences at this stage. Please also note OBE and lucid dreams are generally considered distinct to one another (though you can slip from one to the other).

    Current science
    Hypnagogic imagery and OBE are a petty big topic. Although (Cortex 45: pp. 236–242, 2009) tells us there is now a fairly clear distinction between the two states, Blanke and Mohr (1,2) also let us know that there is much to be studied in this area. It is pretty much cutting edge science from that point of view. New studies on this topic are often hard to find in peer-reviewed literature and without full text access to major neurology and psychology database (the best I can do is Informit and Google scholar which are great but not brilliant for this really cutting edge stuff). One however is at a loss to discus one without the other.
    For OBE’s Many older “How to do it” publications confuse the two simply either due to lack of knowledge or the fact that at that stage science had not even studied such brain activities. Of the most comprehensive “how to do it” books Ophiel (3) is by and by the outright winner, listing no less than five different ways to achieve an OBE. More recent authors such as Barham and Greene (4), Eby (5), and Peterson (6) have all made fairly useful reading for a good background to the modern day OBE practitioner and the science behind the activity of achieving this stage. Rincpoche (7) talks about “Dreams of clarity” but as his methods are culturally specific I don’t choose to compare them to the others, all of which fit in with modern 70’s to 00’s western culture. There was some rumor that someone had perfected a method to obtain OBE scientifically using machines, but I have never been able to find any real facts behind this claim which are either easily obtainable or cost noting I am not unfortunately a very rich man and I can’t waste my money on every “guaranteed to work” method that, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. I do understand that those who make these methods need to eat as well, but its not for me to test them all, maybe someone else will.
    Hypnagogic imagery is less of a “clear” part of this discussion, its mostly classified as the a state which the body goes into between awake and sleep (or sleep and awake which some call Hypergogic imagery, Eby goes on a major rant about this in her book) and pretty much its left as just that. Its really hard to define what is and is not hypnagogic imagery and what is an is no OBE due to this fairly poor definition. Essentially always most people will experience hypnagogic imagery before getting OBE, and one major hypnagogic imagery is the old granny syndrome of which I talked about in this post. False awakenings (FA) can sometimes also be a type of hypnagogic imagery, they are often experiences just before awakening and often contain almost “reality” duplicate to the real life you currently live in their imagery and content. False awakenings are the bane of many a dreameworker and dealing with them can be a major pastime for some who experience them as a problem in their lives let alone in their dreamwork, the “falling dream”, “naked at work/school dream” and the “can’t find a toilet dream” are all classic false awakenings.

    Dreamworking with OBE
    From a dreamwork point of view, OBES have been something many dream workers have been working with or obtaining for many years, getting better at coming up with new ways to reach a state of OBE or one like it. Another other than those already notes is the work of those who have come up with Binaural beats. Science has little to say so far for “hemispheric synchronisation” via “modulated strophic beats” (this is what scientists call them) but its practitioners often praise it like the holy grail of all dream working tools. I myself remain skeptical, I have tried it and found that it, like a lot of methods requires a specific set up and methodology which was fairly hard to consistently use for the length of time I needed to produce useful results for myself, let alone give me any solid data. I find it is far more useful during meditation and use it frequently for that purpose.
    I have had naturally occurring OBE, and have been able to control them with a number of standard lucid dream methods such as the questioning methods: “what was I doing just then?”, “am I dreaming”, “is this my hand?”, ” what is the time? is it still the same time?”, “can I breathe with my noose blocked” (note: the “pinch my arm” method rarely works for me) and the continual statements of affirmation “I will remain lucid” “I will continue dreaming” etc. We will return to these tools in later blog posts as they apply to lucid dreaming as well as OBE.
    My most trustworthy method has been the “Light body” method which Opheil (3) calls “The body of light” and his method is neither new nor hard to modify, I have found no less than 6 unique versions of his method in different places in the world of dreamwork and out of it as well and thus its likely you can find one that works best for you (or read these and other OBE books and find one that does work for you).
    Unfortunately like all dream phenomenon there will be some of you who will be unable to achieve OBE states for whatever reason, some medical, others simply due to lifestyle or even stress levels, its hard to ascertain without exploring every different possibility and some we simply don’t know about yet.

    1. Blanke O, Landis T, Spinelli L, and Seeck M. Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin. Brain, 127: 243–258, 2004.
    2. Blanke O, Mohr C, Michel CM, Pascual-Leone A, Brugger P, Seeck M, et al. Linking out-of-body experience and self processing to mental own-body imagery at the temporoparietal junction. Journal of Neuroscience, 25: 550–557, 2005.
    3. Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Astral Projection, Weiser, 1974
    4. Barham, M. J., Greene, J. T., The silver cord : lifeline to the unobstructed, DeVoss & Co, 1986
    5. Eby, Carol., Astral Odyssey : exploring out of body experiences, 1996
    6. Peterson, Robert., Out of Body Experiences : how to have them and what to expect, [Unknown], 1997
    7. Rinpoche, Tenzin Wangyal, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, Snow Lion Publications, 1998

    Recall and dream journaling

    Dream logging or recording is one of the most basic but fundamental parts of dreamwork. LeBarge, Jung, even Freud had something positive to say about recording dreams. There are two main methods, with several thousand offshoots. The best method is the one you find that works best for you. There are several things that help with dream logging (journaling) and the first is a fundemental concept in dreamwork, if there is such a thing.

    Recall

    Recalling dreams is something everyone who does dreamwork needs to be able to do. Often this is called dream recall (DR or DRE) and without it you can be at quite a loss.
    Most people remember their dreams, say every now and again. A few lucky ones can have spontaneous lucid dreams and OOBE ( outside of body experiences) (see Science of dreaming or LeBarge for more info). It is possible however to get recall every night (though skipping a night here and there is fine). It does take some work to get this to happen. First you need to review your sleep pattern. If you currently don’t have any recall then the best thing to do us do a quick review of how much sleep you get. The more sleep, generally the better. If you have a life or are in a period of life were you don’t get more than say 5 hours of sleep a night you are unlikely to get good recall (Sleep an active process). This is a hard and fast rule, and some people will find good recall on even as little as 2 hours of sleep a night. I would however recommend that depending on your age (teenagers beware you need close to 10-13 hours good sleep most nights, see the New Scientist articles on this) 8-13 hours of sleep is needed for good recall.

    Don’t sleep this amount? I thought so. Most people in our “modern” lifestyle don’t. But you can change this, progressively over several weeks or months. Remember to start going to bed earlier, just five minutes at a time (set alarms if you have to) then when you are getting at least a hour more sleep then your are now reward yourself somehow (a small amount chocolate or a banana are good idea) and then wait or continue the task of getting more sleep till you are getting at least 7. I don’t mean to sound mean here but its for your own health alone that you do this. Sleep is vital to a life in which one thrives as opposed to just lives. Without enough of it, you have bigger concerns than getting enough recall. Having a life situation (such as a new baby) that makes this difficult is not uncommon, just realize that right now may not produce the best results for dreamwork.

    Recall can also be improved by simply having a note pad and pen next to your bed and writing your dreams upon waking. A tape recorder or dictaphone can be of great assistance. I would also say the voice recording system on smartphones are helpful, but shortcutting them is recommended. Using voice recognition is unlikely to get good results as you voice is often harder to interpret upon waking. Consulting bed partners would also be advisable before starting dream recording. Using the most passive method is likely to be better for those who share beds with others.

    If you still have no recall, one can try many of the methods found in the ld4all forums, or failing that consulting a General practitioner. The reasons for no recall can be many, most psychological, some physical. It is possible to have no dreaming state but often this is due to brain damage or major chemical imbalance (possibly stress or depression).

    Dream logging itself
    The process is fairly simple to as complex as you want or need (see methodology post) to make it. Keeping it as a normal journal with dates and a title or number for each dream is the most simple. Then one can make it more complex, adding illustrations, notes, making profiles on common dream characters and even common dream geography. From this one can easily slip into a dream “sheeting” method or a creating a dream dictionary or wiki (you can keep these offline or online).

    Once you have a log to your liking you can work on achieving new goals (journaling itself is a goal, of course) and exploring your dream self and characters in your dreams, perhaps obtaining lucidity and more. Enjoy the dreams.

    You are not weird.

    I started this blog due to what I would call the… ahem. Amount of crap there is out there about dreaming. There is a lot of bad stuff on the web, most of it as reliable as a drunk guy writing left handed on a pub toilet wall. I would like to be at least 10 times more reliable, I at least want you to know I am not talking shit here. IF I make a mistake, research something wrong, post something that you don’t agree with, please tell me.

    Disclamair aside I also wanted to say that you can ask me questions. When I go around saying I do dreamwork, I don’t just mean I do it for me. I do. But I also do it for other people, if they ask nicely. In the same way I can’t say I am a complete expert here. The other thing is that there are three important things I need to say about dreams.

    1. You are not weird, crazy, nuts, a fruit-loop, or anything else for dreaming something. If you suspect you have psychological problems get help (if you can, I live in a relatively wealthy country were this is fairly easy for most), if you don’t think what they are saying helps you find someone else.

    2. You are not wrong or sinful for dreaming something.

    3. You are not weird.

    I know why these things need saying and I could cover how much it pisses me off when someone comes to me and tells me that they have “Weird” dreams. I always say that the weird dreaming curse is something of a good thing, it means you are healthy, you probably have a good imagination and no matter what you are not weird in a bad way. I can’t say that enough. Being weird, different, silly, strange, out of the crowd. These are good things. Most of my friends are weird. I am weird. Weird can be positive, and I can’t stress that enough either.

    If you have someone telling you that you are sinful for dreaming something, I don’t care what it is, you are NOT. I am not a Christian (for the record I am polytheist) but if you are (and I really don’t care if you are) look at places like http://ld4all.com and look in the forums for the Christian support section there is heaps of discussion about the bible and dreams and how lucid dreaming isn’t sinful, and nor is sex in dreams (no matter who or what your partner is). Sex in dreams isn’t wrong (nor is nocturnal emissions from them) and they are a NORMAL biological process (this has been proved so comprehensively I am not bothering with links, but will provide if you REALLY can’t use google scholar yourself).

    NOR is it weird to have dreams of death, destruction, magic, monsters, unicorns, three-eyed fish, Jesus, whatever. Its not. You may think is is, but trust me I have heard many dream tales and not one of them is truly weird.

    Its not wrong to want to know why you dream these things either, and that is were I can help, sometimes.

    The other person who can help is you. You need to take a step and say “Hey, I am dreaming, what I dream is in my mind, I am my mind, and therefor it can’t be wrong.” Say this affirmation as often as you like, especially before bed, and you to can start to live a guilt free dreaming life.