Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If I die before I wake...

I'm starting to get really interested in sleep and dreaming. I've always been drawn toward understanding the brain better and sleep has always fascinated me. Why do we sleep? What are the effects of the environment on sleep? What is the impact on our health? Sleeping is one of the things I love doing the most -- and not just because it takes me away from difficult things. 
   As an undergrad, I actually did an "experiment" where I had 2 or 3 people who were willing to be my guinea pigs (I think you were one of them, Lisa, do you remember?). Anyway, I wanted to see if people incorporated environmental stimuli into their dreams. So...I stayed up while the "subject" fell asleep, tried to wait until I saw them entering REM sleep (just by watching their eyes (so scientific) and then introduced a light, a sound, or a little splash of water (no. no one peed). I think one person did integrate a light into her dream. We all know that light is such a rare thing to show up in a dream that it must have been the stimulus I introduced, right? The professor must have gotten such a kick out of it. So funny.
   I'd love to develop a specialty in the area. I think there's a real need for it. I took a class in grad school about how brain injuries in different parts of the brain affect people's functioning and personality. I remember very little of the details but I remember thinking it was really interesting. I've started reading a book called Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening. In the early part of the book, the author shares an old saying that I'd never heard before: "The reason most people get up in the morning is that they didn't die in their sleep." Have you ever heard this.
   At first, I just thought it was hilarious. Then, as I thought more about it, I thought it was sad. I can definitely say that there have been many days where my thought was "Well, I didn't die last night. Guess I might as well get up." Not in those words, of course, but the spirit of them. More recently, I've been getting up actually looking forward to what the day holds - most days anyway. I hope that lasts for a while!
   I think the workshop I did in Wisconsin has really revitalized me.  I'm going to take pictures of what I did and post them before too long. I just haven't had time... 

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...can't say I remember that experiment. But there's a lot I don't remember. I think sleep is fascinating too. Especially because my own sleep habits are so freaky. I still walk and talk in my sleep occasionally. More talking than walking as I get older - just ask poor J T. He's learned how to deal with it when I get mad that he can't understand what I'm talking about - it's so clear to me, at the time!!

    So let me know if you need a subject for another experiment!