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Sweet Dreams

May 9, 2008 6:50:42 AM PDT
What do your dreams mean? Dr. Rosalind Cartwright, with Rush University Medical Center and author of Night Life: Explorations in Dreams, shares some insight. Why do you remember some dreams and not others? Does it mean more if you remember it versus not?

Usually we only remember the last dream of the night. That is the longest, most complex story, not to mention the most exciting one (and therefore, easiest to remember since we usually wake at the end of it or shortly after). The other 3 or 4 dreams we only remember if we wake up either to visit the bathroom or because it was a nightmare. If it woke us because it was excessively scary we should stop and think about why we are dreaming that dream at this time.

Is it true that things which happen to you during the day are related to what you will dream about that night?

Absolutely. The mind works 24/7. What is going on during waking in terms of your current concerns is the raw material of dreams for that night. When we first go to sleep the brain circuits that were stimulated by some concern stay active until REM sleep/dreaming begins. Then that is transferred to long term memory area and matched up to our older images with the same feelings. That's why old and new images are seen in a dream. The association is not logical but emotional. Feeling that you're still one or two credits short and looking for a way to squeeze in more classes?

Common dreams:

  • Naked on State Street! (exposure to censure)
  • Finding new rooms in a familiar house (hidden aspects of family)
  • Can't turn off a switch (TV, Lamp etc.) (Things not working that should be simple)
  • Teeth falling out (I'm falling apart, getting less attractive)
Sleep/Dream Stats/Factoids:
  • 20 to 25 percent of human adult sleep is spent dreaming.
  • REM time partners with non-REM sleep to organize new learning and file memories.
  • REM has a mood regulating purpose, so when REM is abnormal and dreams are absent, mood is not improved over night.
  • Your waking memory will serve you better if you allow yourself to sleep.
  • There are, on average, 4 or 5 REM cycles per night; they become increasibly longer - and more "productive" - as you sleep.
For more information visit www.thebigsleepshow.com.

The Big Sleep Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Rosemont, Illinois
Friday and Saturday


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