Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In Your Dreams

I have a favorite roasted-garlic pasta sauce recipe (from Emeril Lagasse). What I always forget, when I make it and scarf down three helpings, is: (a) I am now going to smell like garlic for the next 12 hours and (b) I am going to have strange dreams.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Or rather, I am going to remember the strange dreams that I always have.

I have long suspected that most of my dreams are anxious – but research tells me I am not alone. According to this New York Times article by Natalie Angier, about 75 percent of all dreams are negative.

No one knows for sure why we dream – or even why we sleep. Sleep may be a time when the brain repairs itself. Some believe that dreams are just the result of random firings of neurons which, given how vivid and intricate dreams can be, doesn’t seem right. Others point out that the body goes to great lengths to dream. During REM sleep, your body becomes paralyzed, a process known as atonia, so that you have your dreams but don’t act them out. Some say that dreaming may allow for “fear extinction,” a process where we learn to set fears aside.

The classic anxiety dream is you discover you have to take an exam for a class you forgot to attend – and you don’t even know where the exam is being held.  According to this article, this type of dream is becoming more common, as educational achievement is seen as increasingly essential for success, with children having them starting as young as 6. Sad.
My latest recurring anxiety dream: I am in an airport, about to miss my flight, and I can’t find the gate.
What passes through your mind at night?

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