Changing the world one dream at a time

The average person sleeps 8 hours a day and dreams 4 to 6 times per night. What are dreams all about?

Everybody sleeps at night. Everybody dreams. And some people remember those dreams. During a typical night's rest, people go through four to five sleep cycles, each lasting 90 minutes. An easy way to ensure waking up refreshed, try to wake up at the end of a cycle, not in the middle to wake up feeling refreshed. For example, getting 6, 7.5, or 9 hours of sleep would each be at the end of a cycle. 

Each cycle consists of four individual stages of sleep.

Stage 1 –
The body starts relaxing, drowsiness sets in, and sleep is easily disrupted, causing you to wake up. Muscles relax, and brain wave activity begins to shift from that of the waking state.

Stage 2 -
The body and mind slow down even more into a deeper sleep.

Stages 3 and 4 -
This is the realm of deep sleep, where your body shuts down, and the restoration happens. Delta waves and slow-oscillation waves begin deleting and encoding memory.

Stage 5 -
This stage is when REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep begins. Brain activity returns to a level close to wakefulness, and vivid dreaming occurs. Although breathing and heart rate increase, most muscles are paralyzed to prevent the legs and arms from flailing in response to consciousness and the dream experience. The majority of REM sleep occurs in the second half of the night.

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.

John Steinbeck

Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

During sleep, your body goes through a series of changes that allow for rest that is important for overall health. Your body and brain have time to recover, allowing for better physical and mental performance the next day.

Sleep and regular sleep-wake cycles play an important role in controlling the development of various hormones. Getting enough deep sleep is essential for maximizing potential gains from strength training and regenerating cells to repair tissue and bone and stimulating blood flow to muscles for recovery. 95% of growth hormone is produced during deep sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8–10 h for teenagers (aged 14–17), 7–9 h for adults (18–64), and 7–8 h for older adults (≥65). Consensus evaluations of more than a thousand scientific articles have yielded that the sweet spot for most people is ideally somewhere between 7 and 7 and a half hours.

When getting less than 6 hours of sleep, studies show a significant increase in mortality and health outcomes such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and obesity.

On the flip side, sleep duration over 9 hours has been correlated with more significant mortality and increased mortality, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, stroke, coronary heart disease, and obesity.

Bottom Line: A lack of sleep is a significant risk factor for poor health and should be avoided at all costs.

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.

Socrates

Sleep & Learning

As we go about our day, we constantly experience and adapt to the world around us, learning and growing. Our experiences continually shape our worldview, and our brain is continuously changing as a result. New events become electrical impulses that spread through the hippocampus's neural networks, an area of the brain responsible for the formation of new memories. These impulses, or new memories, change synaptic connections, making some more potent and some weaker. 

For something to become a memory, three functions must occur.

1. Acquisition - learning or experiencing something new

2. Consolidation - the memory becomes stable in the brain

3. Recall - having the ability to access the memory in the future

With everything comes balance, and neuroplasticity is no different. The brain needs time to integrate and sort things out, which is where sleep comes in. 

It is unsustainable for the neurons to keep firing throughout the day without down-regulating. When we go to sleep, the processing occurs, and the important memories are consolidated into existing networks and transferred to the cortex for more permanent safekeeping.

african american girl drawing on chalkboard

During deep non-REM sleep, neurons oscillate between a depolarized on-state when they fire and a hyperpolarized off-state when they are silent. A recent study demonstrated that dueling brain waves called delta and slow-oscillation essentially serve two different functions during this down-regulation. Delta waves inhibit memory formation, while slow-oscillation waves do the encoding.

A recent study indicated that it is possible to enhance language learning during slow-oscillation wave periods. The study demonstrated that word associations are registered and encoded at the peak of these slow-oscillation waves. On the flip side, science has proven that in brains that show a buildup of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, delta waves proliferate.

When awake, learning occurs. When asleep, sorting and processing occurs based on relevance and future expectations of usefulness so that the essential memories are easier to retrieve for future use.

Without adequate sleep, the brain has a more challenging time absorbing and recalling new information. Studies show that better quality, longer duration, and greater sleep consistency are strongly associated with better academic performance.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

Elanor Roosevelt

Manifestation

Dreams occur most frequently during REM sleep but can occur during any stage of sleep. However, dreams that occur during non-REM and REM sleep seem to show different patterns. 

REM dreams tend to be more imaginative, immersive, and nonsensical, enhancing the integration of unassociated information for creative problem-solving. 

While dreaming, this fluid interpretation is at the core of a creative mind, working without rules to create and imagine the unimaginable. Many ideas and inspirations originate during dreamtime and are responsible for some of the world's greatest inventions and discoveries.

In 1619, a young soldier stationed in Germany had three dreams involving spirits, including an evil spirit and the holy spirit. That soldier was Rene Descartes, and those dreams gave rise to dualism.

In 1845, Elias Howe invented the sewing machine. He had been contemplating the idea of a device with a needle that would go through a cloth and had a dream that helped provide some newfound inspiration. In the dream, Elias found himself surrounded by cannibals about to be cooked and eaten. While observing them dance around a fire with spears moving up and down, he noticed a hole at the tops. Upon awakening, he realized that having a hole in the needle close to the point, instead of the other end, provided the solution he had been looking for, making the mechanical sewing machine a technological possibility.

In 1953, a young molecular biologist had a dream involving a spiral. That spiral ended up becoming an inspiration for the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. Imagination and creativity are interwoven, and human progress directly correlates with both.

🌍 World Changing Dreams 🌍

1. DNA

Dr James Watson saw a spiral staircase in a dream leading to the double helix spiral structure for our DNA.

2. Periodic Table of Elements

After 10 years of research, chemist Dimitry Mendeleev s saw a table where all the elements fell into place as required.

3. Structure of the Atom

Niels Bohr had a vision of the planets attached to pieces of string circling the sun. He woke up from this dream and suddenly could envision the movement of electrons.

4. Theory of Relativity

Albert Einstein dreamt that he was walking through a farm where he found a herd of cows huddled up against an electric fence.

When the farmer suddenly switched the electric fence on, he saw the cows jump back at the same time – but the farmer saw them jump one by one in a Mexican wave.

5. Analytical Geometry

German soldier René Descartes had a series of three dreams that spurred him to question the nature of reality. He quit the army the next year to study mathematics and philosophy and created Analytical Geometry.

6. Sewing Machine

Elias Howe found himself surrounded by cannibals about to be cooked and eaten. While observing them dance around a fire with spears moving up and down, he noticed a hole at the tops.

Upon awakening, he realized that having a hole in the needle close to the point, rather than the other end, was the solution he needed for the mechanical sewing machine.

1. ⏰ Keep your circadian rhythm dialed in - Go to sleep and wake up around the same time. Try to get your eyes on some sunlight before 9 am.

2. 🏃🏽‍♀️ Keep your body moving – Daily exercise is paramount to sound sleep. Just try to avoid it close to bedtime.

3. 🌬 Get your breathing right – You can download Snorelab for free on the app store to listen to yourself breathe at night. Your brain wants nasal-filtered air, not mouth air. An easy solution is mouth taping. Somnfix strips can be ordered on Amazon.

4. ▓ Cut out the light and noise – Try blue-light blocking glasses if you’re going to be looking at screens before bed. Comfortable sleep masks and earplugs are easy to find.

5. 🥶 Keep your room cool – The body likes it between 60 and 68 degrees.

6. 🚰 Stay hydrated – Half of your body weight in oz. every day.

7. 💤 Track your sleep - Whoop and Oura are popular solutions.

    References

    Cai, D., Mednick, S., Harrison, E., Kanady, J., & Mednick, S.. (2009). REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. PNAS June 23, 2009 106 (25) 10130-10134.
    Fattinger, S., de Beukelaar, T., Ruddy, K. et al. . (2017). Deep sleep maintains learning efficiency of the human brain. Nat Commun 8, 15405 .
    Jike, M., Itani, O., Watanabe, N., Buysse, D., & Kaneita, Y.. (2018). Long sleep duration and health outcomes: A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression, . Sleep Medicine Reviews, Volume 39, Pages 25-36.
    Kim, J. Gulati, T. & Ganguly K.. (2019). Competing Roles of Slow Oscillations and Delta Waves in Memory Consolidation versus Forgetting. Cell Vol. 179, Issue 2, P514-526.E13.
    Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. . (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep, 9, 151–161. .
    Okano, K., Kaczmarzyk, J.R., Dave, N. et al. . (2019). Sleep quality, duration, and consistency are associated with better academic performance in college students. npj Sci. Learn. 4, 16 .
    Worley S. L.. (2018). The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research . P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 43(12), 758–763..
    Zust M., Ruch, M. Wiest, R. & Henke, K. . (2019). Implicit Vocabulary Learning during Sleep Is Bound to Slow-Wave Peaks. Current Biology.

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