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Downgraded Dreams

Lately, I’ve been having very odd dreams.   They’re unlike any dreams I’ve ever had before in that they are remarkable only in their normality.  Earth logic still seems to apply: there’s no zombie uprising, no flying dogs, the trees are all the color they should be, people are appropriate to the setting and doing perfectly normal and characteristic things, I can’t breathe under water or in space—heck, I’m not even in space.  Noteworthy only in their banality, these dreams feature the hair-rising, nail-biting activities of going to class, eating meals with friends, changing batteries in my calculator, and even at one point, reading.  I remember from psychology that, unlike Freud was so keen to proclaim, dreams have no real bearing on our subconscious thoughts or feelings and are, with few exceptions, rather meaningless.  It is most widely accepted these days that dreams are simply a random firing of neurons, kind of like your brain taking a walk because you haven’t given it anything to do (or perhaps more appropriately, going on Facebook and looking at old photos).  But what I wonder is how the types of dreams you’re having can change so abruptly?  Dismissing trauma, panic, and stress, which have been shown to lead to distressful, emotionally draining dreams, there is little research on why we dream exactly what we do.  My dreams, usually colorful, imaginative, and fraught with peril, have slumped into the mundane.  It appears we’re past the honeymoon now.  Is there such a thing as being too tired to dream properly?  Will simply upping my sleep and resting more on weekends give me back my beloved aquatic adventures?  I decided to do a little research.  As it turned out, according to this article, that as we age, our dreams do in fact change in content as we age, a phenomenon attributed to our changing perceptions of our identity.  The article continued to cite a study in which the dreams of 334 women ages 12 to 80 were analyzed which had come to the conclusion that these changes in dreams may simply be the result of our changing reactions to things—although I don’t really see how this could turn post-apocalyptic survival into waking up and walking past some friends on my way to class in just a few short weeks.  Regardless of what this article says, I truly hope that these changes aren’t a permanent result of aging or what-have-you.  Otherwise, sleep in going to be a lot more boring.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I took AP Psychology senior year and we learned a lot about dreaming and sleep. REM sleep, which is when you dream, is the most important sleep you need. If you don’t get a lot of sleep and miss out on this REM sleep, you will lapse into REM rebound. This means that next time you do fall asleep there is a great chance you will automatically fall into REM sleep and skip the other, earlier stages of sleep. (I am basing this information off what I remember from last year, so correct me if I am wrong) Based on this logic, one would think if you are a sleep-deprived college student, you would be having more dreams than normal because you would lapse into REM sleep often. Yet this does not address the actual content of the dream. I have only remembered one dream since I have arrived to GW, and it was equally as strange as my dreams from home. It is certainly an interesting idea though that over time your dreams can change. I understand that over time my dreams will probably change as I develop as a person, but I certainly hope my dreams do not become mundane and boring.

  2. October 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I found the article that you linked to very interesting, as I’ve never heard of this changing of dreams as you age idea. Similarly to the commenter above, I do not recall having many dreams since arriving at GW. At home, I dreamt frequently, often of wildly fantastic things, as you lament missing. I too have been hoping that my dreams aren’t gone for good, and wonder if it is the result of my changing or the new environment and lack of sleep that college has provided.

  3. October 6, 2011 at 3:42 am

    I have never thought much of the content of dreams. I took AP psych in high school and am in Abnormal Psych now and much of what we have learned about the content of dreams is the outdated dream analysis of Freud. While this was once seen as the accurate way to interpret dreams, like all science we learn more and realize out theories from the past may not be completely true. He believed everything in a dream had meaning and that only therapists could analyze the dreams properly, while this maybe interesting to interpret, there is no real validity and the science behind the content of dreams has not caught up.
    However the idea of sleep deprived college student does bring up another point, the REM sleep is the important stage in dreams and the other four stages go not actually produce dreams. It takes about 90 minutes to get into REM sleep, and though out the night we go through cycles, making it easier to get woken up and then going back into REM sleep hopefully four or five times a night, but to be honest which of us can actually get that much sleep? This seems to be the issue for us, are we even getting into the REM sleep stage or is the constant noise and studying keeping us in a sleepless state?

  4. October 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t thinking much of my dreams and I never took Psych in high school so I’m not really sure how the REM thing works or anything. However, when I stopped having dreams about childish things I assumed dreams changed as you got older because you’re exposed to new experiences. I’m glad I got some clarity on the subject through this article. I understand completely what you’re saying about random, logical dreams. I have had multiple dreams where I’m rushing to class and wave hello to my friends before waking up thinking “ok?” Boring is the right word to use. I feel thats what my dreams are now, which is why I don’t pay attention to them anymore.

  5. October 7, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I also took AP Psych in high school (from the same teacher, no less) and learned that the content of dreams were random reinterpretations of the events of one’s life. Knowing this, I was very surprised that the style and content of them had changed so drastically. Maybe this is due in part to the fact that I really don’t watch TV anymore since moving into the dorms and therefore am not constantly bombarded with the fantastical imagery of the Walking Dead, BSG, and Doctor Who. Is it possible that media has simply ceased to proliferate my subconscious since being here? If so, I need to stop wasting so much time on homework, clubs, and parties so I can get on Netflix Instant Queue and get my dreams back to where they belong. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has noticed a significant change in their sleeping hours.

  6. October 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I, having never taken a psychology class, find dreams to be one of the most fascinating and mysterious aspects of our lives. I’ve always wondered if they had any meaning, and if they do, how much of a meaning. I have not noticed a change in my dreams at all, come to think of it, I can’t remember any recent dreams of mine. However, if I was experiencing a shift in them from abstract to normal I would probably be skeptical as well. As for the whole TV influencing your dreams, this coud have some legitimacy as it sounds like the shows that you were accustomed to watching would fuel your creativity. As I said before though, I’ve never taken a psych class so I don’t really know what I’m talking about. For this reason, I found the article that you posted to be very interesting, and I’m going to start paying attention to how my dreams are changing over the years now!

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