The quality of sleep has a profound impact on a person’s health. The lack of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep leads to increased stress, irritability and anxiety. A person deprived of REM sleep becomes increasingly unable to function on a daily basis and some compensate by eating more. REM sleep is often associated with dreaming, and it is observed when the eyes start to move under closed lids, hence the term “rapid eye” movement. Insofar as health matters are concerned, scientists agree that any kind of dreaming is good because it gives a person the right kind of rest for the physical body. As a guide to understand your dreams and use them for personal development, though, scientific study into sleep have yet to come up with a more profound reason for the need to dream.
What is not emphasized in sleep studies is the quality and kind of dreams and its effect on the human psyche. Dream interpretation is often treated as equivalent to fortune telling and Ouija boards, but it is in dreaming that the most profound human discoveries are made.
There are many kinds of dreams, and while these all occur during REM sleep, they will have differing effects on a person’s state of well being. So it is not enough to say that if you have REM sleep, you are having a good night’s sleep.
Think about it. Have you never woken up after having a dream, which was sad, or terrifying, or scary, and feel headachy and tired? Physically, you should be up and running, but because your mind is not in equilibrium and the feeling of fear or anxiety is present; it is as if you had not slept at all. This can be a serious hindrance in leading a fulfilled life. In the sleep cycle, which has four stages and last for about 90 to 120 minutes, REM sleep occurs in the last stage of the cycle. This cycle repeats itself about four times in a typical 8-hour period barring any waking moments or interruptions. So a person may have as many as four dreams a night, and most of these dreams will not be remembered upon waking, unless the dream is extraordinary in some ways. It could be a really good dream (such as winning the lottery, in which case you wake up feeling 100% or really depressed) or a nightmare (in which you wake up all sweaty and afraid). In which case, the dream lingers in the consciousness and cannot be dismissed easily. Some are recurring dreams, and these dreams should be given special attention, because it is like a red flag for the conscious mind. Your subconscious is saying you need to pay attention to this I will show it again. Is there something that you have forgotten to do? Is it something that is important to you that you are not aware of?
Dreams serve more than as an indicator that good sleep has been attained. It is the living, breathing representation of the inner self, in which personal development occurs. It is not while you are going about your daily, waking life such as working, or studying, or cleaning the kitchen that inspiration or realization strikes.
It is when you are at rest and your eyes are doing the tango that the most important things float to the surface. These are you dreams and your nightmares. They are not merely phantasms that you can afford to ignore. You may not know it but this is your life. Pay attention to your dreams for this is the path to self-realization and personal development. Learn to recall your dreams.