Time to dream. What do those words conjure up for you? Time to daydream, to luxuriate, to take time out, to visualise your future? Time you simply don’t have?
How much sleep do you get each night, on average? Do you wake up refreshed or do you get by on what you judge as just enough sleep? Do you wake up too early, wired high on constant stress? Do you drag yourself out of deep sleep at the command of an insistent alarm and enter unwilling autopilot mode as you do what you have to do to start your day? Or do you suffer insomnia, or sleep too lightly, waking up more exhausted than before you went to bed?
Does the thought of waking up naturally – with no alarm – and feeling fresh and energised seem more like a distant memory than a possibility?
In today’s world, we tend to be sleep deprived and dream deprived, giving what we see as the pressures of daily life priority over sleep. If we can get things done, we think, we can get by with a little less sleep. But is getting by enough? And is getting by a value worth upholding at the expense of living a full and healthy life, thriving rather than surviving?
Yes, I hear you. Practicalities! Money to be earned, rent to be paid, children to nurture, work, business, and social expectations to reach.
Everyone knows that sleep is necessary for health and wellbeing, even while we snip away at its edges and get by, but not everyone realises that dreams are also necessary for health and wellbeing. In the sleep laboratory, you can allow people to get a full night’s sleep while disrupting their dreams, so that effectively they get enough sleep but don’t dream, or their dreams do not flow on to completion. When this happens, health and wellbeing – particularly mental wellbeing – rapidly decline. Similar experiments carried out with animals on a long-term basis have resulted in death.
Dreaming, whether or not we understand our dreams, is vital for our physical, mental, emotional, and, I would add, spiritual health and wellbeing.
Yet we deprive ourselves of the full time we need each night to dream.
Now that’s a vital message to take in, but add to that the value of taking the time to remember and understand your dreams, and you’ll realise there’s more at stake.
When you remember your dreams, interpret them, and work with them to get insight into your unconscious mindset, the game of life changes. You discover why you do the things you do, and what limiting beliefs and blocks are making life harder for you than it needs to be. You discover how you sabotage your best intentions, why life is super stressful for you, and what you can do to resolve issues that seem, when you are awake, impossible to resolve. You discover that you really don’t need to do all the stuff you believed you had to do. You discover new perspectives, solutions to problems, and ways of approaching life that free you up to feel more fully alive, in balance, and able to contribute more energetically and meaningfully in the world. In short, you discover greater possibilities, and all through gifting yourself time to sleep, time to dream, and the tools and techniques to understand your dreams.
So where can you find the extra time you need to sleep and dream? Start with taking back control of your screen time, social media, videos, television, you know the deal. Negotiate boundaries with your boss, business partners, colleagues, and clients around prioritising emails, projects, and other expectations. The irony and the beauty is, that with proper attention to sleep and dreams, you’ll be more efficient and creative when you begin work the next day. I know I don’t need to add to this list: you already know how to reclaim the time you need.
Talking of reclaiming time, might I suggest the value of an extra ten minutes before you get out of bed in the morning? Use the ten minutes to allow dream memories to come back. Write them down, or, at least, write down keywords or record the dream memories on your phone so that you can work with them later. If you have to set an alarm, set two: one for the actual time you need to get up, and one for ten minutes earlier to allow you time to recall your dreams.
If bad dreams and nightmares are causing your insomnia, begin by understanding those dreams so that you can resolve the underlying issues as well as stop the dreams. Either learn the tools to do this by doing the How to interpret your dreams step-by-step online course here at The Dream Academy, or book a consultation with me or with a graduate of our Dream Therapy Professional courses.
I’m writing this blog in mid-December, on the one hand one of the busiest most sleep disruptive times of the year, yet on the other hand only a week away from the opportunity to enjoy some long sleeps and sleep ins during the holiday period. Combine this with the thought of welcoming a brand new year to make a change and get started on a lifetime ahead of healthy sleep and dreams.