Feeling irritable? Trouble concentrating? Feeling stuck? Unable to remember your dreams? If so, you might not be getting enough REM sleep.
Each night we cycle through five different stages of sleep. A five stage cycle usually last 90 minutes, but each stage of sleep can vary in time, depending upon the individual. We dream during the fifth stage, called rapid eye movement (REM).
That dream of flying, or being chased, or realizing you forgot your locker combination, or to wear pants may be your brain’s way of discharging unprocessed feelings related to recent events in your life.
New neurological studies suggest that dreaming in REM sleep may be necessary for mood regulation and memory recall, meaning that over time a lack of dreaming could affect your overall performance.
Interestingly, the drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease reportedly produce more REM sleep, suggesting a link between dreaming and memory function.
People who don’t dream at all or not enough can be irritable and have difficulty concentrating, effecting their job and relationships.
Another study found that people with depression and anxiety tend to have more REM sleep than average and not enough deep sleep, which may be why they wake up exhausted each morning.
While deep sleep helps boost the immune system and restore energy levels, REM sleep may help us have better focus and more even temperament.
So getting the right amount of all the sleep stages appears to be necessary to maintain physical and mental health.
Not surprisingly, modern life causes disturbances in both the quality of sleep and the amount of sleep we get.
Alcohol, stimulants, cannabis, stress, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, computer screens, certain types of antidepressants, and poor sleeping habits all contribute to inhibiting REM sleep and dreaming.
Many people report a spike in dreaming or full-blown nightmares when coming off drugs, sleeping pills, medications, or alcohol, as the brain readjusts to normal sleep cycles.
Hypnotherapy is one method to intentionally induce the REM sleep cycle in a controlled manner and setting, like in a lucid dream, enabling you to process through and discharge underlying feelings that may be sabotaging you.
A good hypnotherapist acts only as a guide. Sometimes the guided, interactive imagery is even based upon characters in your dreams.
However, unlike dreams or drugs, in Hypnotherapy you can stop the process at any point.
Ever have one of those nightmares in which you try to wake up, move, or call out, and can’t? Since you are generally self-aware in a Hypnotherapy session you still possess the ability to open your eyes anytime.
So if you have difficulty concentrating, feel stuck, or you feel like something’s bothering you but you can’t out your finger on it, maybe learning what you can do to have more dreams in REM sleep might be the answer.