Since you spend one-third of your life sleeping -- but your brain never sleeps -- wouldn't it be wonderful to tap into some of the action, to coax out in the open some of your brain's random firings and synaptic bursts where they can illuminate, reveal or inspire?
Dreams -- those nightly messengers that dance back and forth between the conscious and unconscious -- are just waiting to be your guides and translators. Dreams, the source of rich characters and bold story plots, of innovative scientific breakthroughs and ingenious inventions, can boost your creativity and help you find answers to your waking dilemmas and conflicts.
What problem are you facing right for which you might find a solution through dreams?
|Scientists divide sleep into NREM (Non-Rapid-Eye-Movement) and REM (Rapid-Eye-Movement) periods. Most dreaming takes place during REM sleep.
- You spend about 1 1/2 hours a day dreaming, and have an average of 1,000 dreams each year.
- Whether you realize it or not, you dream in color -- mostly green and red.
- Dreams that occur during the same night are usually variations on the same subject.
- You have four or five separate dreams each night; however, unless you awake during the night, you probably recall only the last dream you have before morning.
- Dreams stimulate your imagination and help you function better in your daily life.
- Dreaming is necessary to good health. Researchers have found that when people are deprived of REM sleep they have difficulty functioning normally and may start to hallucinate.
|Freud believed that you dream to remember your forgotten past and get in touch with your emotions. Carl Jung, Freud's student and author of Man And His Symbols and other books about dreaming, believed that dreams reveal universal symbols from humanity's "collective unconscious" to help guide you through various stages of life. Alfred Adler believed that dreams are "emotion factories," which create moods and move dreamers to take action and solve problems.
Some scientists today believe that the brain is like a computer and that dreaming is akin to "rebuilding the desktop" --sorting out the clutter, comparing new information to old, storing data in their proper files and dumping useless information. Others theorize that dreams are used to repair the brain and help it grow, which would explain why the percentage of time spent dreaming declines with age.
Which one of these theories makes sense based on *your experience?
|Dreams are usually metaphorical. The subconscious mind seems to prefer symbols to concrete images. In order to discover creative ideas and solutions to problems, you need to interpret the symbols. For example:
- Characters in a dream (a baby, an evil villain) may represent parts of yourself.
- A house may symbolize your belief system or values.
- Water may represent your emotions -- peaceful, turbulent or frozen.
- Roads, paths and highways may symbolize decisions or choices you are facing.
Crossing a bridge may indicate a change in attitude.
Have you had recurring dreams, dream patterns, or dream metaphors? What do you think they mean?
|Before you can examine your dreams, you have to capture them. Dreams are illusive and fade very quickly into the thickets of the unconscious. However, you can train yourself to remember your dreams. Here are some tips:
- Place a pencil and pad of paper next to your bed.
- At night, when you start to feel sleepy, say to yourself , "Tonight I will remember my dreams." If you want access to all of your dreams, not just the last one before morning, tell yourself, "I will awaken after every dream." These are forms of autosuggestion.
- When a dream is finished, wake up, but don't open your eyes. Review the dream in your mind.
- Open your eyes and immediately write down everything you can remember about the dream. Don't try to interpret at this point, just record.
- Go back to sleep. In the morning, go over what you have written and fill in the details -- colors, smells, feelings, plot, etc.
|To aid interpretation, keep a separate record of important or unusual events that happen in your waking life. Look for connections between these events and the symbols and metaphors in your dream.
Try giving your dream the playwright treatment. Write up the dream in the form of a drama. Give it a title and, in as detailed a fashion as possible, describe plot, settings, props, mood, characters, and most importantly -- your role(s).
Doodle, sketch, or paint your dream symbols. What kinds of patterns and configurations (dark-light, figure-ground) emerge?
Keep a dream journal. Capturing dreams in a notebook or journal will make it easy to occasionally go through and look for motifs, themes, and delayed "ah-ha's!"
|Getting A Good Night's Sleep Is Critical
to Productivity and Creativity
by A. Christopher Hammon
In 1995, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a Gallup Poll survey that revealed that 49% of Americans reported trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep.Publications ranging from the New York Times and USA Weekend to health care periodicals and medical journals have been citing sleep deprivation as America's latest "silent epidemic."
Many people suffering from routine sleep loss are not even aware of it, and many who do realize they are not getting enough sleep are not aware of what it is costing them.Yet one out of every two adults is not getting the sleep they need; an increase of 33% over just the past five years according to the NSF.
These findings are causing researchers to start investigating and discussing the effects of this growing national sleep debt on individuals and society as a whole. The surprising results are that if you want to be productive and creative, to function at your best, and to be a successful problem solver, the best thing you can do is get a good night's sleep every night.
How does not getting enough sleep affect us according to the sleep researchers?
- Problem solving skills are impaired. Research at the Sleep Research Center based at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, has demonstrated that sleep loss (simply not getting enough sleep) noticeably impairs our ability to comprehend rapidly changing situations, increases the likelihood of distraction, makes us think more rigidly and less flexibly, and reduces our ability to produce innovative solutions to problems.
- Communication skills suffer. The research at Loughborough University went on to show how sleep loss reduced the words in one's vocabulary both verbally and in writing, resulting in stilted conversations and a greater use of cliches.
- Learning and memory suffer. A 1996 study in the United States demonstrates how a group of 10-14 years olds allowed to sleep for a full 10 hours per night performed far better on tests of memory, verbal fluency and overall creativity than students who were only allowed to sleep half that time. This has been reinforced by the Loughborough University studies showing the cerebral cortex to be the part of the body most affected by inadequate sleep. They have shown a direct connection between sleep loss and our abilities to concentrate and remember.
- Motor skills are impaired. Numerous studies ranging from those conducted by Loughborough University to ones conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have demonstrated a direct connection between sleepiness and impaired hand-eye coordination. The degree of impairment has led researchers to compare it in severity to drunkenness. The combination of impaired judgment and diminished hand-eye coordination leads to at least 100,000 automobile accidents per year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and numerous home and industrial accidents.
The net results of not getting enough sleep are impaired judgment, diminished creativity and productivity, inability to concentrate, reduced language and communication skills, slowed reaction times, and decreased abilities to learn and remember.
How significant is this in the workplace? The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that sleep loss alone is costing American businesses $150 billion per year in higher stress, inattention, and diminished workplace productivity. A 1997 National Sleep Foundation survey discovered that "an alarming one-third of American adults scored at levels of sleepiness known to be hazardous." Out of those reporting daytime sleepiness, 40% admit that it does interfere with their day-to-day activities. For some it is their social lives that suffer, for others it is their families, but for most it is their workplace activities that suffer. This type of sleepiness is a major contributor to inattention, which accounts for one-sixth of all accidents and countless number of poor decisions. This type of sleepiness has been cited as a significant contributing factor to the Chernobyl disaster, the Challenger explosion and approximately 100,000 automobile accidents during the past year.
What can a person do? Primarily recognize that sleep researchers are now showing us that sufficient sleep is as critical to peak performance as proper diet and exercise. The research is showing that the ROI for taking an extra half-hour to an hour for sleep per night is much more significant than we have previously realized.
|Dianne Schilling is a San Diego-based writer, editor and instructional designer who specializes in the development of educational publications and customized training programs for business and industry. She is a founding partner in womensmedia.com. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.