I’ve always been nocturnal. Growing up, I stayed up later and later as I got older. Back then, I had the stamina to still make it out to the bus and into school on time with about six hours or less of sleep. I would catch up on the weekends, often sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday until after 1 pm.
The coolest thing about this was dreaming. I was able to influence my dreams. I could go over a plot line in my head as I was waiting to fall asleep and then dream about it. All the main elements would be there and I could consciously put the dream back on track if it started to deviate too much. If I awakened briefly, I could even pick up where I’d left off. (This wasn’t so great during the rare nightmares!)
As I got older, this lucidity became a problem rather than a blessing. After my marriage, I began sharing the bed with not only my husband but also our pets. I was the one that worried about the pets disturbing him and him lashing out at the pets. (I don’t mean abusively, but pushing, kicking or bouncing hard enough to knock them off the bed or worse.) My usual insomnia got worse. Eventually, I was waking up every 20-30 minutes all night long. After about a year of that, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and put on medication to keep me under.
My dreams tapered off. It was much harder to remember them or direct them when I did dream. Falling asleep remained difficult, but once asleep I was down for the count. I subscribe to dreaming as both a tool and an escape. I would often work out the answers to questions or solutions to problems after a night of dreaming. I even tried dream journaling (although this wasn’t as helpful after fibromyalgia) and interpretation.
Dream interpretation led me to all the dream dictionaries and encyclopedias. They were compendiums to tell you what your dreams were saying symbolically. This is a good beginning, but I got some great advice on making that analysis more personal: start your own dream dictionary. Create a loose leaf binder and start brainstorming symbols that can then be alphabetized or otherwise organized. Here an example:
Phone – interruption, busy, distraction, intrusion, link, connect
(The first 3-5 options are usually more meaningful.)
The above article took me to Arianna Huffington’s book about sleep and I wound up purchasing her three books to read: