Sleep is a complex process that many give little to no thought too outside of putting our heads to the pillow and drifting off. With this is mind if we get the right amount of sleep it is the thing we will spend most of our lives doing and one of the most important things we can focus on for our physical, mental and spiritual development.
The average life expectancy in the US is approximately 79 and we are recommended 8 hours sleep a night (give or take). This means (on average) we should be sleeping for just over 26 years of our lives.
It is thought that we dream 3 to 5 times a night, and for those with a super active consciousness we can dream up to 7 times. However, it is common for dreams to quickly leave our memory after waking or for us to forget them altogether.
During sleep we go 4 cycles every 60-100 minutes:
- Stage 1 is a drowsy, relaxed state between being awake and sleeping – breathing slows, muscles relax, heart rate drops
- Stage 2 is slightly deeper sleep – you may feel awake and this means that, on many nights, you may be asleep and not know it
- Stage 3 and Stage 4, or Deep Sleep – it is very hard to wake up from Deep Sleep because this is when there is the lowest amount of activity in your body
- After Deep Sleep, we go back to Stage 2 for a few minutes, and then enter Dream Sleep – also called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – which, as its name suggests, is when you dream
In a full sleep cycle, a person goes through all the stages of sleep from one to four, then back down through stages three and two, before entering dream sleep.
Although we go through this cycle every night it is often reported that people have no dreams, however, a 2015 French study has provided different results. The study observed 289 participants with sleep related disorders, the subjects were tested using Video Polysomnography which records your brain waves, oxygen levels in your blood, your heart rate and breathing. It also measures eye and leg movements, as well as a live video to monitor the subjects.
The study found: All non-recallers (of dreams) exhibited, daily or almost nightly, several complex, scenic and dreamlike behaviours and speeches, which were also observed during rapid eye movement sleep on video-polysomnography (arguing, fighting and speaking). They did not recall a dream following sudden awakenings from rapid eye movement sleep.
This shows that we dream very frequently, regardless of if we remember or not.
Why Is This Important?
It is widely accepted in many tribal and indigenous cultures that dreams are the space in which physical reality is manifested. Meaning if we can fluidly explore sacred dream space, we can more effectively navigate the physical reality. It is also believed that the dream space is also a place for metaphors and messages to show up to be interpreted and often acted upon.
To add to this, if we cannot remember our dreams regularly and the dream space is holds power over our waking lives, we could be dreaming and manifesting anything- oblivious to the effect it is having.
There are ways to enhance your dream experience and effectively remember your dreams, there are many- but here are 5 of the ways I have personally tried and had results with:
The most simple way to remember your dreams is to record them, this way you can interpret them at a later date and continue to jog your memory as too what happened in dream space. The best way to do this is keep a journal and pen/pencil by your bedside, and as soon as you awaken from a dream- write it down. Fight the urge to go back to sleep, use the bathroom or attempt to return to the dream. You will find as you start to write, more of the dream will come back and once you get into the routine, remembering dreams becomes a lot more simple.
Mugwort is the herb that I have had the most success with; the first night I picked fresh mugwort and left it in my room I had a spontaneous lucid dream, without even ingesting it. Also drinking unsweetened dried mugwort tea before bed helps adds a lot of colour to my dreams.
Mugwort is for adventuring in dream space and can help with lucid dreaming (being conscious in your dreams). Many report it can take upto a few weeks for its effects to kick in, however it has been my experience that it works upon consumption.
Meditation anytime of the day can help with the recall of dreams, before bed is optimal, but if you get to tired before sleep daily morning meditation can still help activate dream memory.
Switch Off Your Devices
Try to avoid digital stimulation one hour before bed: Ideally you would switch off all devices, meditate and then drink a mugwort tea before you go off. However just switching off your devices is helpful.
Lastly intentions are great for dreams. Set dream intentions and make a conscious decision to remember your dreams. Once you are able to navigate more effectively, you can set specific intentions relating to what you would like to know or understand through dreams.
A few other ways that I don’t specifically use are too set an alarm for the early hours in the morning and when you awaken record your dream memories. To drink lots of water before bed, as it will wake you with the urge to use the bathroom, again you can then take notes. Also generally staying away from alcohol, caffeine and synthetic drugs will help with dream recall.
I will end with an Aztec poem about the importance of sacred dream space:
It is not true that we come on this earth to live. We come only to sleep, only to dream. Our body is a flower. As grass becomes green in the springtime, So our hearts will open and give forth buds and then they wither.
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IMAGE CREDIT:begemot_30 / 123RF Stock Photo
I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here