Whether you remember your dreams or not the final truth is that we all dream. Therefore, dreams are a normal part of sleep. Everyone dreams approximately for a total amount of two hours per night, while dreams can occur during any stage of sleep.
However, the most known fact is that the most vivid dreams happen during the REM phase. Scientists are still not sure if dreams affect the quality of sleep. They can’t measure it.
In addition, we all had that experience of waking up relaxed or with a feeling of being on the edge. Therefore, we can say that there are slight differences in overall sleep quality.
What Are Dreams?
Dreams come in many sizes and shapes. They can be entertaining, rather bizarre or unbearable disturbing. Sometimes, after having a night of good sleep and pleasant dreams, we feel like we are on top of the world.
Naturally, we assume that’s connected with a good dream. But why do we dream at all? Why do we dream bad or happy dreams? And what does it mean?
Simply said, dreams are just stories and images in our heads. Stories and images are what make our dreams vivid. Thanks to those images you can feel happy, or sad. Even angry and its O.K. Dreams can get to seem confusing or entirely rational.
One thing that is mutual to humans when it comes to dreaming is that you can choose when you gonna start dreaming because dreams can occur anytime during sleep.
The most vivid dreams occur during deep sleep that’s also known as REM (rapid eye movement) phase when your brain is most active.
Why Do We Dream?
There is a number of theories why we dream. However, no one so far came with an accurate and final answer. Some say that dreams are without further meaning and that they are just a product of a sleeping brain. On the other hand, people are claiming that dreams are crucial for emotional, physical and mental health.
One thing that nobody seems on to disagree with it, is the fact that dreams and good sleep are important for our well-being and health. Number of studies during the years showed that those who were cut of their REM sleep experienced increased tension, depression, lack of coordinating, weight gain and even tendency to hallucinate.
In reality, dreams may be either negative or positive. There is no doubt that after a nightmare you feel without energy for hours. Falling back asleep after awakening from a nightmare is tough and that’s just one of the reasons why those bad images affect your mood and behavior the next day.
Scientists claim that we dream a minimum of four up to six times per night.
Nightmares are usually a sign of stress, conflict and different levels of fear. Bad dreams are common in children and adults. Nevertheless, bad dreams don’t come always with a significant meaning. Overall, bad dreams don’t have always an enormous effect on your sleep architecture.
What does it mean? It means that your dreams won’t change how much time you spend in different stages of sleep, or even the number of times you have to awaken during one night.
But, what can they change?
They can change how long it takes to fall asleep at night and how difficult it is for your body to switch between non-REM and REM stages of sleep.
Dreams vs. Reality
Dreams are usually related to what’s happening in your life when you are awake. If you are experiencing a lot of stress or the huge amount of satisfaction in your love, or work area (or any area whatsoever) in your day-to-day life, the chances are that you will have pleasant and positive dreams. Opposite, if you are experiencing any form of depression or anxiety during your day-to-day life you may have low sleep quality.
Good thing is that you can improve your dreams from your reality and control dreams in that way, by simply improving your state of mind during the day. All together, improved state of mind during the day will lead to better quality of dreams and sleep as your ultimate goal.
Good Sleep Equals Good Dreams?
The link between sleep quality and dream quality could be connected to the old chicken-and-egg scenario: no one knows for sure which comes first. However, practice shows that people always use unpleasant words to describe bad dreams and a pleasant one for good dreams.
Beyond that, it’s still difficult to say whether or not a sad or a happy dream means that you’ll sleep worse or better. That link between dream quality and sleep quality is still kind of a blur.
What we can say for certain is that some people find it more difficult to fall asleep when they are emotionally unstable or in some kind of pain. Furthermore, the relationship between quality sleep and quality dreams is a two-way street which is at first sight rather complex.
So, Do Dreams Affect How Well You Sleep?
If you find this question interesting and intriguing it means that you probably had days when you woke up like on to of the world on one side.
This also means that you had days when you woke up feeling tired, exhausted and above everything else, truly miserable.
Regardless of what everyone else says if you think that it’s in the first place connected with your dreams. With how good dreams you had. Or not.
Scientists still can’t provide real data and metrics based on this topic. Mostly, because this connection is rather complex and everything works like a two-way road where everything goes back and forth. They neither confirm that there is a slight connection between those two or even denies it.
However, when you know that something is not right then its just not right, and the best way is to listen to your inner gut and make your own action list and concrete steps to improve quality of your dreams at the first place, and the quality of your sleep in general. Better dreams, better sleep, no?
How To Improve Your Dreams
The best way to have quality dreams and to have better dreams is to improve your state of mind when you are awake. In order to foster healthy dreaming, you should be in the first place be ready to change your lifestyle and introduce certain new habits before you hit the pillow.
The most basic and sometimes even the most efficient steps are:
- Turn off all screens in your home, including your mobile phone, laptop, TV and etc.
- Make a long bath
- Play neutral music with relaxing sounds
- Light scented candles
- Breathe deep for 15 min in still pose
- Practice yoga
The best time to do all of listed, or just one thing, is one hour before your bedtime. You can organize in the way that suits you the best. You may be a fan of long bubble baths but not very keen on yoga movement, so you can extend the time you spend in the bubble world.
More general tips that showed results include:
- Naps – take a regular nap that will boost your energy during the day, especially if you had bad dreams and rough sleepy night
- Get enough sleep – this one is basic, but true. Nothing beats good sleep when it comes to firm health
- Sleeping schedule – Routine, routine, routine. Create a sleeping schedule and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Every. Single. Day.
- Exercise – keep your body active. Exercise daily from 20 to 30 minutes a day. However, the time before bed is not reserved for heavy lifting or running. Therefore make sure that you are done with exercises at least 4 hours before sleep time
- Drinking habits – take care of your drinking habits. If possible, avoid late nicotine and caffeine intake. In addition, stay away from energetic drinks before bad. Instead, try to have a cup of healthy tea.
- Relax – create a relaxing routine before you go to bed – read, spend some time with your pet, take simple care of house plants, try coloring book, or just take a nice, relaxing hot bath
- Good sleeping room – Make sure that your room is all set for sleeping and sleeping only. Keep soft lights, avoid loud sounds, keep a pleasant temperature (don’t let it be too hot), keep TV out from this room. The same applies to your laptop and computer as well.
- Don’t lie awake – Don’t go to bed unless you are ready to sleep. What does it mean actually? It means that you shouldn’t lie in bed awake. Keep yourself busy until you feel tired.
Good night sleep is still one of the most important things in one person’s life. If not THE most important one. In addition, good night sleep is what helps us to have control over our dreams.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to know that this way or another you are going to fell consequences of bad night sleep.
Bear in mind that your brain will be active during the long period of time, and if there is something that bothers you in reality and you can’t find time to deal with it, it will catch up on you in your dreams. However, if you just can’t stop having bad dreams and tremendously bad sleep you should do everything that’s in your power to control your dreams.
Although you can’t control them entirely you can train your mind to dream better.
Keep your room for sleep only, remove every single tech-piece from your sleeping room. Just keep alarmed clock. No TV, no laptop, not even a computer. This area should be tech-free so you can focus on relaxing and truly be ready for a good night of sleep. Make sure that you avoid stressful situations during the day as much as possible, exercise every day – even go for a long walk, just leave that period of at least 2 hours before bed for some relaxing.
Read a book, take a long bath or practice relaxation exercises.
Although this sounds basic and simple it is routine that makes perfect.
If you are curious more about this complex question visit the National Sleep Foundation