Question of the Week

Do your dreams affect how sleepy you are?

Tue, 20th Jan 2015

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Question

Alberto asked:

If you fall asleep and start dreaming, but you dream you are awake, do you still get a good night's sleep?

Answer

We put this question to Dr Ian Wallace, a psychologist who specialises in dreams Dreamingand dreaming...

Ian - Dreaming that you are awake is a common experience and still getting a good night’s sleep depends on what type of waking dream you have.

Danielle - A waking dream? Does that mean we can be awake and asleep at the same time? That sounds like we’re moving into the realm of sci-fi.

Ian - It is a common misconception that dreaming and waking are completely different states. They can occur at the same time. Examples of this happening are sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. Dreaming that you are awake can indicate an episode of sleep paralysis where your body is overly fatigued and asleep but your mind is still actually awake. This usually reflects that you have been experiencing poor quality of sleep over a number of days. And so, may still wake up feeling tired. It’s a pretty common occurrence and most people will experience it at some point during their life.

Danielle - Sleep paralysis sounds like a nightmare – being awake but not able to move and rather exhausting. Please tell me that other types of waking dreams are not as tiring.

Ian - Dreaming that you're awake can also indicate that you've entered a lucid dream state. This is when you become aware you're dreaming and are able to choose what happens next in the dream. Lucid dreaming is a very relaxing and refreshing dream state. So, this can give you a fantastic night’s sleep where you wake up feeling re-energised and ready to fully engage with your day ahead.

Danielle - But wait! I've been conscious the whole time. Surely, that's not a good night’s sleep. How could I possibly feel energised when I wake up?

Ian - You haven't been conscious or unconscious, but conscious and unconscious. So, it’s not like pulling an all-nighter. A lucid dream enables you to explore creative solutions to potentially stressful situations in your waking life, so that you can quickly resolve them and release any tension that you have been experiencing.

Danielle - But what about if I've been running around playing football in my dreams? Will I wake up feeling tired compared to, if I've dreamt of having a nice, relaxing bath?

Ian - Getting a good night’s sleep does not depend on the content of your dream or how active you are in your dream. It is the quality of the sleep you're having but determined how refreshed you will feel when you wake up.

Danielle - We can run marathons or climb mountains but wake up refreshed – a dream come true. But how can we be sure to get a good night’s rest?

Ian - The easiest way to creative a restful your sleeping environment is to remove all electronic gadgetry from your bedroom and just make it a simple haven for sleep.

Danielle - That's a change a lot of us will have to sleep on. I hope that will put your mind at rest Alberto. Next week, we’ll be sucking up to some experts to try and answer this question sent in from Paul...

Paul - Could vacuum cleaners be fitted to ships to suck or pull the plastic? Alternatively, could we use solar powered floating vacuum cleaners or charge terminals to attract these plastic particles?

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