Waking refreshed from a good night’s sleep sets you up nicely. What can really take the edge off, is if you suffer from the residual effects of nightmares or just unsettling bad dreams.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve woken reluctantly after a lovely dream and wish you could experience that every night!
How can you take steps to make sure your dreams are good ones?
What are Dreams?
Did you know that we all dream, every night? In fact, it happens between three and six times during our sleep cycle and each dream can potentially last up to 20 minutes. Most of this is forgotten when we wake, though some dreams stay with us when we become conscious.
Dreams are created when our brains play around with lots of different strands of emotion, thoughts and experiences from our life; or as it stores fresh input from that day. These strands get mixed into often intriguing scenarios in our subconscious.
How this happens is generally a bit of a medical mystery; as the brain is complex and hard to study. It’s also open to interpretation what different dreams mean. There are various schools of thought on this, ranging from dreams being our “unmet needs and desires” to them being the result of random firing in our brain’s “wiring”.
What is a widely held belief, is that dreaming is an essential part of our short-term memory processes. This, in turn, supports our cognitive (thinking, reasoning and planning) abilities. Having our brains working away to learn, record and store sensory input while we sleep is essential.
From all this comes one essential fact; the more relaxed and comfortable we are as we slip into our sleep pattern, the more peacefully our brains can get the job done. Upset your brain, and you could get nightmares!
Getting your Mind and Body Ready
To stimulate a positive dream experience, getting ready for bed is largely about what not to do.
For example, old wives’ tales about eating cheese before bedtime carry some truth! If you go to bed leaving your digestive system with lots of hard work to do, you’re bound to be restless and you may wake up with lots of slumbering brain activity still clear in your consciousness. This could possibly include negative images that your “upset” subconscious has created.
Clearing your mind before bed, possibly even meditating, is bound to leave your sensory system soothed rather than agitated. Whereas going to sleep straight after staring at a TV screen or mobile phone may leave your brain “pinging” around while it goes about its subconscious “loading”. The same applies to drinking coffee at night, which is a stimulant.
Having even the slightest amount of light in your room can also dilute the depth of your sleep. This, in turn, could leave your brain with unpleasant reactions; or simply makes you more aware of what your dreams included.
The Comfort Factor
Studies have shown that the position our bodies take up during the night can impact on our brain activity both negatively and positively.
You might want to experiment with this. At the very least, find a way of getting comfortable in bed so your brain can do its nighttime work smoothly and uninterrupted.
Having a good quality, supportive mattress and pillow is crucial. For example, the 5ft King Size Rest Assured British Wool Collection MEDIUM mattress comes in three options – softer, medium and firmer – to make sure you get the sleep experience that’s right for you.
Get the Temperature and Air Quality Right
Another thing that can interfere with natural sleep, leaving your brain with negative input or making you more conscious of dreaming, is poor temperature control. Do you wake up hot and throw the covers off, or find yourself cold in the night?
Get the room to an ambient temperature with air flowing from an open window or door so it’s not stale or stuffy. Also, choose a mattress and pillow that supports your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature, such as a highly breathable Hypnos Latex High Profile Pillow which maintains a lovely cool surface.
Having a bed that can happily accommodate different body types and movements of both sleeping partners is important. Let’s face it, if someone else in the bed is “tossing and turning” or creating slopes in the mattress, it’s bound to leave you unsettled in your dreaming.
The 5ft King Size Sealy Nostromo is a great example of a mattress that enables both people to sleep in comfort, thanks to its 1400 pocket springs for support and impeccable balance.
Consistent, Healthy Sleep Times
Another important way to give your brain peace and to hopefully be left with good dreams is to develop good habits. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time each night, for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted slumber.
Keep a Dream Journal
Having a notebook nearby or using your mobile (which is well away from your bed) to record your dreams on waking is fascinating. It enables you to jot down details before they fade. You can then have fun trying to work out why your brain conjured up the images your dream contained.
A sleep journal can also help you to chart what worked well in making sure you got a fabulous night’s sleep and good dreams!