Dig Deep for Sweet Dreams
Futon Company says: Now that it’s the end of September we’re feeling the approach of a slight autumn chill. Which means our thoughts are starting to turn indoors and (dare we say it!) to shorter days and longer nights. On the plus side, this means that we’re moving towards nesting season which in turn brings with it more opportunity for sleep!
Given we spend one third of our lives asleep, it’s only natural that we want to be more educated about its importance (I mean, what actually happens when we’re asleep? One of life’s eternal mysteries!!) And what exactly is the purpose of dreams apart from freaking us out?). So when we came across the article Sleep Consciousness by a hypnotherapist, dream specialist and wellbeing advocate in the June 2021 issue of Red Magazine, which explains how we can work with each stage of sleep to maximise the potential of our dreams, we knew that we had to share it with you. It says:
The hypnogogic: imagine and create: This is the earliest stage of sleep, as the brain begins to relax. You’re not quite asleep, though you may experience some strange, vivid sensations and imagery, or even a myoclonic jerk – sudden jolts the body sometimes makes before reaching sleep. This state is regarded as a natural state of hypnosis, and a good time for practicing self-hypnosis techniques. Try a body-scan meditation, or listen to your breathing and stay mindfully aware. Observe the bridge between being awake and asleep. You may only encounter a few moments at first before dropping off but keep practising and stay with your experience. Many artists and inventors have used the hypnogogic for creative purposes. Use it to explore a project or to mine for ideas. You can surface from this relaxed state and jot down your experiences. You can also influence the type of dream you have by using dream incubation during the hypnogogic. Simply ask for a dream that you would like, such as one set in the Maldives. Keep your request short and in the present tense: Tonight I dream of the Maldives. Repeat this several times before sleep every night for a week.
Rapid Eye Movement sleep: Set intentions: We typically pass through four stages of non-REM sleep before starting REM sleep or dream sleep. Dreams can feature in each of your sleep cycles, although you will dream more abundantly in the second half of your night. When you keep a regular dream diary, it’s as though your dreaming mind knows you are listening and will start to present you with dreams of psychological value. Try setting an intention to remember your dreams. If you don’t remember anything, just write: I don’t remember anything. The act of recording daily is important increasing recall.
The hypnopompic: Gain insight, find clarity: This is another natural state of hypnosis you will experience just before you fully wake up. The hypnopompic isn’t a sleep state but a state of consciousness you encounter as you surface from sleep. This state is good for discovering new insights, and finding clarity or inspiration. Similar to the hypnogogic, the hypnopompic is when your brain creates alpha waves, making it a good place to explore the mind in a relaxed state. If you wake suddenly, you will pass through this stage very quickly and miss it. Once you have an inkling that you are surfacing from sleep, try to hang onto the thread that connects you to sleep and wakefulness. This liminal state is a good place to discover insights, ask your unconscious questions or simply allow things to unfold and see what you notice. In advance, prepare a question or theme you’d like to explore: What should I do next about….? How should I tackle…..? Keep this by your bed to prompt you in the morning. Then roll over to the same position you were in, slip back into a sleepy-half awake, half asleep state and reflect on your question.
First moments of waking: Unravel and resolve: Now, you’re sitting in bed awake. During the first 20 minutes upon waking, you have a beautiful window of opportunity. You’re fully conscious, yet your mind is open and impressionable. You’re still experiencing the relaxing world of alpha waves and you have a strong connection with your subconscious. This is the perfect time to write a journal. Try starting with something specific. Perhaps you have a dilemma, a situation or relationship causing problems. Write your question or statement at the top of the page and use that as a springboard for exploring what’s on your mind. At the end, make a note of any surprising findings or insights. Or try a simple writing-therapy technique for nightmares and anxiety dreams. Rewrite the story. Create a better ending to your dream so that it transforms into something else that resolves the issue. Spend a bit of time writing about your new ending. Before bed that night, you can visualise this new dream ending. Another idea is to try some free-writing around how you’re feeling upon waking, or perhaps you have a puzzling dream on your mind. Simply write unedited for 15 minutes. Often you can start to unravel what’s going on, and sometimes, discover the final piece to the puzzle.
Futon Company says: We’ve always been fascinated by sleep and dreams, and this article really helped us to understand the power of dreaming. For our part, the key to insightful dreams is setting up a sleep space that’s conducive to rest, relaxation and deep sleep. Whether it’s your nightly sleep space, a sleep space for guests or a weekend camping trip, it’s always wise to get kitted out with a bed that promotes your best possible sleep.