“It was the summer of 2009. And it was 10 pm at night, my usual bedtime hour. I really enjoy going to sleep every night at the same time and waking up 6 am, every morning. There’s something good about that, and, normally, I look forward to go into the dream realm.
But, at that time in my life, for a couple of months, something happened. I’ve been having this recurrent weird dream of a black silhouette, a man in black standing at my bedroom’s door. As soon as I fell asleep, he appeared. Just standing there, looking at me. I could only see his eyes and I could feel that his intentions were not honourable. My levels of fear were so high, that I couldn’t think straight.
Every night for two months that dream came to me, I’ve tried to wake up and turn the lights on, so I could see him. But it proved to be an impossible task. I kept touching the light switch beside my bed and my hand just went through it, or through the wall, or felt like jelly.
Next, I tried to stand and go to the windows to open the curtains and let the sunlight stream through, again so I can see him or, at least, to gather some courage to scream for help.
The frustration of failing to gain control and the struggle to stand and confront him were so big, that it woke me up, every single night at 11 pm, for two months, also, struggling to get back to sleep after that.
And because it happened to me for so long, and, also, because I am not the type of person to give up easily, I decided to practice a bedtime routine to improve my sleep and dreams and noticed that slowly, but surely, I became a little bit stronger in the dream and less afraid.
So, every time I went to bed, before falling asleep, I would practice conscious sleeping, like praying or meditating or telling myself some motivational affirmations. And started noticing that when I saw that man in black in my dreams, I managed to make some advancements or to record little successes. From one night to another, it became easier and easier to get myself up and out of bed (in my dream), to either turn the lights on or reach the window, pull the curtains and, even, open the window.
All this time, that black silhouette didn’t move an inch, the struggle was mine and mine alone. But I also cherished my little victories and was determined to resolve this weird, recurring dream.
And, finally, I did.
The very last night I had that dream, I went to sleep consciously, but this time thinking “This is enough! I can’t play this game anymore! I have to resolve it or finish it either way!”. My level of determination was 100%.
So, as always, for the last couple of months, as soon as I fell asleep, the man in black appeared. But this time, something was different… I felt different!
Very quickly and easily I jumped out of bed (in my dream), turned the lights on, open the window, went straight to the man in black, grabbed him with both hands, modelling him, just like you would with play-doh, made him into a ball, transformed the ball into green leaves and blew them out of my window and watched patiently how the wind, just took them gently away.
It was so good! I felt so brave! I was happy and at peace.
I returned to my bed, lied down and continued dreaming a nice, beautiful dream and woke up at 6 am with a sense of achievement and joy.
I never dreamt that dream anymore!”
And the lesson I’ve learnt is that we are not helpless in our dreams, we are not puppets in the dream time, unless we allow that. We can, actually, change the dream or aspects of the dream that we don’t like. And we can also conquer our fears, no matter how big they are.
It proved to me one more time how powerful and important it is to live consciously, by paying attention to what you do during the day and to go to sleep at night, consciously, setting an intention, asking a question or making a request. It completely transforms your dreams and your life!
This is just one of my many dreams that taught me a lesson and opened my mind to a deeper meaning of our dreams.
And because in this article we are, also, discussing weird dreams and pandemic related dreams I also want to offer you a snippet of scientific information, so you have both visions on the topic.
Now, weird dreams actually make a lot of sense, according to neuroscience and psychology.
Because, as we know, some of the functions of the brain is thinking, making memories, solving problems, observing new information. Then it processes that information by determining what’s important, what’s not, and what’s connected to something you already know. And then, the brain either stores that information or dumps what’s not useful.
Also, our brains need time off, a break for processing and learning new things, and this happens during sleep.
Our weird dreams may be just the result of the brain’s process of elimination-approach to problem solving, according to Robert Stickgold, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Sleep and Cognition, who studies the role of cognition in sleep.
A lot of memory processing happens during our sleep. The brain is filing away new memories, deciding which ones to store and which ones not to. If we presume the brain is indeed problem-solving during dreaming, it’s going to look through all of those files (sometimes the ones you just put there and sometimes the really old, dusty ones from a while back) and try to find something useful.
Your brain is looking for associated memories that are relevant to recent events, according to Stickgold.
And, if we consider that, the emotional centers of the brain are more active during REM sleep, and the parts responsible for logical thinking are less active, it would make sense that the memories the brain uses during dreaming may be the more emotionally charged ones, and the ones that may not fit the logical narrative.
This is when your brain is trying the out-of-the-box solutions. It’s not necessarily looking for something reliable that works every time. It’s a fact that our brains love everything that is unusual, original, unique, new, different.
And, in my opinion, this is happening because our purpose in life is to discover, experience, grow, evolve.
(For more info, please see entire article here: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/your-weird-dreams-actually-make-lot-sense-according-neuroscience-psychology-ncna913436)
And the reason why we are experiencing more weird and vivid dreams during this pandemic is because of stress, trauma and sleep changes.
Disruption of sleep is considered to be one factor. Feeling anxious because of the corona-virus pandemic is the main reason people are having trouble falling asleep, and some people report they've lost at least one hour of sleep nightly compared to before the outbreak. Waking up during the night due to stress or, say, other causes such as alcohol - since people are reportedly drinking more - might result in waking up during a REM period and therefore remembering a dream. As Rafael Pelayo, MD, sleep specialist at Stanford Sleep Medicine Center says, "Anything that makes your sleep choppy is also going to make you aware of your dreams more."
Another theory, as stated by the experts, is that people are experiencing REM rebound. Katherine Sharkey, MD, PhD, medical director of the Brown Medicine Sleep Center, said that, on average, REM makes up between 20 - 25 percent of your nightly sleep. The end of the night is made up of more REM sleep - REM sleep dominates the last third - and if you're waking up to go to work in the morning, you're cutting off that stage. This makes you REM deprived. When you start catching up on sleep, which is what some people are doing during this quarantine, there's an influx of REM, or REM rebound.
What's more, data collected by Fitbit and published on April 2 suggests that people across the US are going to bed later but getting more sleep - aka, getting up later. That could be explained from the lack of commuting during this time. Since more REM happens the longer you sleep, people are waking up at a time where the content of a dream is transferred into long-term memory and can be remembered. (Note: for the most part, data also showed an improvement in quality of sleep and, according to Fitbit, "for those whose quality of sleep has improved, they have been spending more time in deep and REM sleep.")
Anxiety or stress could very well be another factor.
According to Joshua Tal, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who works with patients experiencing sleep disorders like insomnia, when we're stressed out, we try to make sense of it, especially when things are so insane and out of the ordinary. This could come about when you're asleep. He explained that people deal with something they're stressed about by exhibiting denial or becoming even more anxious about it as a means of coping. "Doing any of these things essentially means that you're avoiding processing the issue," he said. "You're avoiding talking through its effect. What ends up happening is you then start to see that if it's not processed in the daytime, it'll come out at night-time."
Stress could also be causing the change in sleep schedule.
We know from the explanation of the brain that early morning awakenings is a concept associated with depression and anxiety. When people wake up early in the morning and can't go back to sleep is a common phenomenon in stressful situations or in times where mood is not good, whether it's anxiety or depression. This interferes with your sleep and creates an opportunity to remember dreams if you wake up during REM - or, due to a lack of REM, can result in REM rebound the next night.
Another possible explanation is trauma.
People on the front lines could very well be experiencing traumatic events that lead to more realistic dreams.
Dr. Tal explained, "When you have trauma, when you have people dying and you are there witnessing it or even supporting another worker who's witnessing and experiencing it, your mind sometimes cannot make sense of it, so it comes out in dreams and nightmares. We may see that a lot of these people on the front lines are going to have higher levels of nightmares and traumatic dreams that have to do with corona virus or have to do with similar themes."
Even if your dream isn't about corona virus, chances are it's related to what's going on in the world and the consequences of staying at home.
(For more info, please see entire article here:
Now, going back to the dream I shared with you, allow me to mention that at the time of experiencing that weird dream, I was going through different challenges in my life, personal and professional.
Professionally, I was involved in my first business venture and it happened during a period of world economic crisis. Personally, I was in a distance relationship, which didn’t help.
So, what provoked my weird dream? Was it my anxiety or stress caused by the events in my life? Or was more than that?
Scientifically speaking, yes, that is a possible cause. But because I’ve always considered dreams to be more than the result of our brain processing information, I always searched for answers beyond the confines of our physical world. For me, dreams are also a key to different realities, a bridge between our body and soul and that gives me a deeper understanding of my dreams and, ultimately, my life.
There are so many mindfulness practices right now available to you, in order to let go of stress, overwhelm and frustration, like reading, meditation, yoga, reiki, practising your favourite sport, helping others, etc.,
But my favourite one is conscious living and conscious sleeping.
Conscious living for me it means to live in synchronicity with the Universe, everything around you. To observe your life. Because synchronicities are meaningful confirmations that the Universe is sending your way to helps you know if we are on the right track (or not).
Conscious sleeping means, going to sleep every night having a relaxing bedtime routine, setting an intention for entering the dream time and using hypnosis to fall asleep with that intention in mind. Because that give us a purpose, a goal and instead of being at the mercy of our subconscious mind, we can make requests and receive answers and guidance in our dreams.
Robert Wagoner, a lucid dreaming author says that when we go to sleep at night without an intention is like a sailor going on the sea without paddles.
So, let’s go to sleep tonight open minded, with a clear intention and ready for our nightly adventures!! 😊