Jules Rector is a student journalist who made the trek from South Florida to SoCal to attend Chapman University and is the summer intern for Yoga Wake Up app.
I think we can all agree that this year has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions and we’ve seen almost every aspect of our lives change in some way. A drastic change can take a toll on our minds and bodies, which is why it’s important to take extra care of yourself during times of stress. Since the coronavirus broke out in March everyone has seen a change in the way we grocery shop, entertain ourselves and even the way we dream!
Of course dreaming, in general, is nothing new but many people have seen vast differences in the way they dream since quarantine started. To keep it simple there are two types of sleep we experience each night, REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM, each type involves multiple cycles that provide different functions for our sleepy minds. We begin with non-REM, which is restorative for our active bodies and important for retaining memory. During this cycle, our body temperature drops (which is why we need a cozy blanket to sleep) and our heart rate is regulated. Next comes the REM stage or “dream” stage, which is when our minds start to drift and the body becomes temporarily paralyzed. That’s when we experience our dreams, whether they’re wild, peaceful or forgettable!
But why is the coronavirus pandemic affecting the way we sleep?
Well, a big change in our daily schedule and added stress can have a big impact on our dreams. The Sleep Foundation warned that the coronavirus has caused many barriers to sleep such as excess screen time, anxiety, depression and fatigue. I found out that dreams will most likely reflect your greatest fears and play off of the thoughts taking over your mind. I've slept about 3-4 hours more than usual since being cooped up at home and not in a good way. That extra sleep can fuel those crazy dreams because the longer we sleep, the more dreams we’re more likely to have and the possibility for more REM cycles. So if you’ve been having wild dreams since being stuck at home you’re definitely not alone! With everything going on this year who knows where our dreams may take us and with one traumatic event after the other, our dreams will severely be affected.
What can we do to soothe our minds and promote a better night's sleep?
Since sleep is incredibly vital to our brain functions and overall quality of life, it's important to take note of how our dreams affect us when we wake up in the morning and throughout the day. Creating a dream journal and simple nighttime meditations can help us control the vivid dreams. Deirdre Barrett Ph.D, the assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, gave some advice in the Harvard gazette, “You could pick out a person you’d like to see in your dream tonight, or a favorite place. Some people enjoy flying dreams, or some people have just had an all-time lifetime favorite dream. So pick what you’d like to dream about.”
When we're asleep we are sometimes more alive than when we’re awake!
Through my research I found out that meditation before bed isn’t necessarily to help you fall asleep; it actually helps to clear your mind, destress after a long day and leave a fresh slate for the next day. Inspired by Barrett's advice I realized that if I focus on the positives and think about my goals right before bed it is possible to manifest these in my dreams. If you’ve never tried a nighttime meditation I encourage you to check out the Bedtime section in the Yoga Wake Up app to promote the best sleep possible! My personal favorite is IN LOVE WITH THE NIGHT with Vance Vlasek.
These are just a few examples of how nighttime meditation has helped me, I’d love to hear how the Yoga Wake Up bedtime meditations help you in the comments below!