The Role of dreams in health, emotional healing and evolution
Far from being a pleasant waste of time, dreams are an essential part of sleep and have a key role in emotional and mental health, learning, development, performance and even our evolution as a species.
Dreams mainly occur in Stage 4 sleep which is a deep sleep state, also known as REM (rapid eye movement). In this stage of sleep, your body is totally relaxed – in fact your voluntary muscles are paralysed – to prevent you from acting out emotive or violent dreams. Interestingly, the eye muscles remain active and is why REM is so named.
Conversely, while you are motionless, your mind is in supercharged mode. Each night, your subconscious mind is busy reviewing the day’s activities and encounters then sets about updating your memory bank to create a new-improved version of you each day in an ever- changing world.
Emotional and Mental Health
The link between sleep and mental health is very well-established. Research demonstrates a direct 2 way link, but it is dreams that provide emotional rescue. A leading sleep scientist, Matthew Walker 1 writes that it is not time that heals wounds, but rather the time spent in REM dream state that brings about emotional healing. Dreams are your free 24-hour repeat prescription o overnight therapy, made possible as a result of shifts in the level of the neurotransmitter, noradrenaline (or norepinephrine), known for its stress and anxiety-inducing qualities. It is known as the brain’s adrenaline.
Walker describes two critical roles of dream state:
Repetitive Nightmares/Dreams & PTSD
Research reveals that excessively high levels or noradrenaline in those with recurrent dreams and nightmares – including those experiencing PTSD – do not enter and maintain normal REM sleep so cannot disconnect emotion from trauma. Instead, they remain in a constant cycle of fear when going to bed (which will prevent sleep which the body experiences as trauma, and which exacerbates noradrenaline levels in the brain). Recurrent nightmares and PTSD is another of the body’s catch-22 situations worsened by and sleep disturbance. You may begin to see how everything is connected and how fundamental sleep is to overall health and wellbeing.
PTSD and sleep scientists have collaborated and found that a particular blood pressure medication suppressed noradrenaline levels and helped to break the recurrent nightmare cycle. However, as with most medication, it has unpleasant side effects at high doses, but this provides a clue to how Homeopathy can help people with recurrent dreams, nightmares and PTSD heal debilitating recurrent dreams and nightmares.
I am working with increasing amounts of people presenting with PTSD, including Long Covid and, particularly those who have been artificially ventilated, which in itself is a massive trauma. High levels of stress hormones in the blood impact the entire hormonal system, to include the sleep hormone Melatonin. Yet another demonstration of how everything is connected.
Symptom management is fine, and necessary at some points, but in my experience, until the root cause is addressed, the body cannot come off of red alert. Remember: the body always works in your interest, 24/7, 365 days per year, until it can do more and produces symptoms until the underlying cause is addressed. This is what conventional medicine refers to as ‘underlying health conditions’ (or unresolved acute conditions and trauma). Sleepability offers the roots & branch approach to resolving recurrent nightmares, PTSD and insomnia and associated problems. You can read more below.
Coronasomnia & Dreams
It didn’t take long, but there’s a new sleep problem known as Coronasomnia or Covidsomnia. Characterised by an increase in sleep problems over the last 18 months, this condition is denoted by associated anxiety, depression and stress, except directly related to perceptions and experience of the so-called pandemic. Causes of this condition include loss of daily routine, work identity and persona, finances, increased media consumption (which in my opinion was nothing short of biased and fearmongering). Other factors are lack of exercise, change in usual sleep patterns, social isolation, germ phobia, fear of death, change and a profound shift what is ‘normal’.
A side note is, let us not forget that the official survival rate is 99.97%. I would suggest that fear is the true Pandemic, and we can change our thoughts in a heartbeat. You can read more about this in my blog here.
Unsurprisingly, various studies have documented increased rates of insomnia and mental health disorders. 2-5 The BBC reports that the word “insomnia” was Googled more in 2020 that ever before. 6 In terms of dreams, various articles report respondents are waking from vivid dreams 7 , which we know means less therapeutic REM sleep, as well dreaming of bugs (perhaps people’s attempts at processing their fear of the ‘germ’). 8 Interestingly, researchers revealed how Coronasomnia affects immunity 9 (there is a direct link between the gut, sleep and immunity).
More benefits of dreams
Problem solving, innovation & creativity. There’s a reason people say ‘sleep on it!’ While in dream state, mental connections and insights are made with sometime extraordinary outcomes. If tech companies optimise their innovators’ sleep, you know there’s something in it. Whereas Stage 3 sleep creates our memories, Stage 4 adds the creative and innovative element. Walker describes this stage the creative incubator. Some of the most revolutionary ideas in human history have occurred after a night’s sleep, because dream state is free of limiting logic and corrective
reason. Through vast associative networks of information, anything is possible –
Sleep is controlled by the Pineal Gland which stores and releases the sleep hormone, Melatonin. In esoteric terms, the Pineal Gland is the seat of intuition, insight and inner vision. Look at those words again – they point to the source of our innate knowledge. Imagine, for a moment, how different the world would be if more of us harnessed the power of dreams and sleep. You can read more on how to develop and embrace the power of your Pineal Gland which, in my opinion, is important now more than ever. You can read my blog here.
Memory, Language & New Skills. Memories are created in slow wave sleep, mainly during Stage 3 NREM. There are three stages in creating a memory: (i) encoding; (ii) consolidation; and (iii) retrieval. When needed, your memories are plucked from the subconscious to brought into the conscious mind. Plentiful research proves the link between learning, coordination, performance and sleep.
Equally, sleep helps you to forget the more unimportant and insignificant events, and which usually takes place during the early stages of NREM (non-REM).
Evolution. Sleep science has identified that dreaming is not common to all living creatures. Most species experience NREM but it is only mammals (except marine mammals) and birds that experience REM. It is suggested that dreams are part of evolution. Walker writes that our evolution to the ‘top of tree’ has been hastened by the amounts of REM we experience, and that our shift from other primates that still sleep in trees, and that we chose to sleep on the ground, meant our brains would need to process much more information, risks and experiences which could only be integrated into our consciousness by REM. As a result, we have highly developed brains, intelligence, skills, wide social networks, innovation and creativity.
Sleep Lucidity. This is the ability to control when and what you dream while dreaming. About 20% of the population are lucid dreamers. Do these people unwittingly have answers to the problems and insight into the next evolutionary leap for humans? It is a concept that is being researched in the world of sleep science.
Meaning, Themes & Content of Dreams
Through the millennia, there have been many theories as to the source of dreams. The Ancient Egyptians believed dreams to be divine intervention. Aristotle suggested that the source of dreams could be found in recent events of a dreamer’s life. Sigmund Freud 10 referred to this as ‘day residue, and further suggested that dreams came from unconscious desires that had not been fulfilled. Fast forward to the 21 st Century and sleep labs are confirming that our emotions and concerns of the day are the source of our dreams.
Our brain communicates electrically via nerve cells (neurons) in wave like patterns, hence the name brainwaves. Brainwaves are recorded by an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine, via electrodes attached to the skull. Brainwaves are measured in Hertz (Hz) and cycles per second. Sleep science has identified five different patterns of brain waves, and the one related to dreams is Delta, the slowest brain wave. I will be writing more on this next week, so check out my Instagram and blog.
How does Sleepability help?
The emotions experienced in a dream, or that awaken you during dreams are the key to your emotional healing, and is why sleep and dreams have always formed part of my standard case taking. From this, I choose a remedy to help you gently break the cycle of trauma, PTSD and bad dreams.
By combining the best of practical sleep hygiene tips and homeopathic remedies, I’ve helped hundreds of people with sleep and associated health problems during my 20 years of experience. Expert case taking identifies any causative factors of recurrent dreams and nightmares and is how I arrive at a bespoke remedy. The use of safe, effective natural remedies proven to help symptoms that are similar to those experienced by you are prescribed along with nutritional advice and relaxation techniques. This is a completely different approach to the ‘one size fits all’ approach of conventional medicine.
Homeopathy: the ‘Roots & Branch’ approach
As a Homeopath, I view symptoms as messengers from the body that something is out of synch, versus being the sole problem. While the named condition is useful, the person experiencing the symptoms is most useful in arriving at a bespoke remedy for that person.
By gently resolving any causative factors, for example, birth complications, trauma and medication, your baby can come off of ‘red alert’ meaning the stress hormones will reduce to restore harmony in your baby’s hormone system, to include Oxytocin, the hormonal security blanket and anchor in his or her new world.
My ‘tools of the trade’ have remained unchanged to those used by Homeopaths for over 200 years: what worked then, works now. I love my Repertory (book of clinical symptoms) and Materia Medica (book of remedies) with which I match my client’s symptoms with the remedy produce similar symptoms in other people.
Some Self-Help Tips
Gut Health. The gut is the biggest producer of the sleep hormone, Melatonin, so keeping your gut healthy is vital to help establish a healthy sleep cycle, to include REM and dreams. Medication – particularly antibiotics – and recreational drugs, adversely affect gut flora. You can read my gut health blog or check out my 15 minute video.
Get Outside. Your body needs the Vitamin D to help create Melatonin, the sleep hormone. Enjoy a change of scenery, fresh air and the sensory delight of being outside.
Lavender Pillow Spray Lavender is the No.1 essential oil to promote sleep and reduce anxiety. A couple of sprays on your pillow will work wonders to promote sleep. I love and recommend the award winning Neal’s Yard Organic Lavender Pillow Spray. Order from my website here for home delivery and receive a free ‘thank you’ gift from me.
Epsom Salts. These amazing magnesium rich mineral salts promote relaxation at a cellular level. Add a handful of Epsom Salts to a warm (not hot) bath. Soak for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a bath, soak your feet for 20 minutes in a bowl of warm water with 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts. Make this natural, cheap and effective Magnesium-rich remedy is a therapeutic store cupboard essential.
Contact me today for expert guidance and treatment to help restore your sleep naturally, and benefit from your body’s 24-hour, repeat prescription of emotional rescue.
Make today the day you say goodnight to bad dreams.
Invest in your rest. Because sleep matters.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with sleep, why not check out my Top 7 Tips – the journey to natural sleep?
Sleepability acknowledges the safety of your baby is paramount and recommends you update your GP and always seek medical help if you have any concerns. Homeopathic treatment does not replace emergency medical care.
1 Walker, M, 2017: ‘Why we Sleep: the new science of sleep and dreams” – ISBN: 978-0-141-98376-9
2 Falkingham, J et al, August 2020: ‘Women with young children, key workers and BAME groups losing sleep during coronavirus pandemic’; Southampton University – article
3 Morin, Charles M, January 2021: ‘The acute effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on insomnia and psychological symptoms’ – paper
4 Barcaro, V et al, December 2020: ‘Insomnia in the Italian Population during Covid-19 outbreak: a snapshot on one major risk factor for depression and anxiety’; Frontiers Psychiatry – paper
5 Voitsidis, P et al, May 2020: ‘Insomnia during the Covid-19 pandemic in a Greek population’; Psychiatry Research – paper
6 Zitting, KM et al, November 2020: ‘Google trends reveal increases in internet searches for insomnia during the Covid-19 global pandemic’; Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine – article
7 Machemer, T, April 2020: ‘Insomnia and Vivid Dreams on the rise with Covid-19 anxiety’ – Smart News, Smithsonian Magazine – article
8 Barrett, D, May 2020: ‘What pandemic dreams may come’; Harvard Gazette – article
9 de Sousa et al, September 2020: ‘Sleep and immunity in times of Covid-19’ – paper
10 Freud, S, 1900: ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ – Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Aug. 1997); ISBN-10:1853264849; ISBN-13 : 978-1853264849