Saturday, July 07, 2007

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Crabby suggested a number of things I could write about next, but one of them got a supporting vote from Kira, so the topic tonight is dreams.

I've always had trouble getting to sleep unless I'm ill or exhausted. I need white noise, like a fan, and near total darkness. Yet, even with that, I still have times when I watch the clock go five, ten, thirty minutes, then an hour, sometimes longer, before I drift off.

I have some mental games I've played to help fall asleep faster. The first one I remember using, and this was way back as a child, was an alphabet game. Name animals in alphabetical order, or flowers, or girls/boys names, that kind of thing.

When I got older and had read a lot of Science Fiction, I used to name all the SF authors I could remember for each letter. I think I had trouble with Q - as a matter of fact, I still can't remember one that I've read (and that's part of the "rules" - I have to have read something by the author) whose last name starts with Q. Sometimes I'd be so caught up in the game I'd get to the end of the alphabet and have to start over just to fall asleep. Most times I didn't make it all the way through.

Anyway, about two years ago, I started telling myself a story to help fall asleep. I pretty much kept telling it every night, each night starting at the last thing I could remember from the previous night. Sometimes I'd advance the "plot" other times I'd get stuck in a loop trying to re-tell the same thing. If I got stuck in that loop too long I'd start a new story. I have about four or five of them now. They're all Science Fiction stories, too.

You'd think that as a result of this, I'd have Science Fiction-y dreams, maybe continuations of the stories, but no, my dreams - at least the ones I can remember well when I wake, are all weird, but not what you'd call SF.

I do have a couple of dreams that seem to repeat, and perhaps that's why I remember them. One of the oddest is the one where I'm at my old high school. Thing is, in this dream I'm not a teenager, I'm grown, I know that I've been to college, but for some reason I'm back and I have to take classes and graduate - again. There's usually some part where I have to go to my locker and the locker hall seems to be a mile long - I know I'll never get to the locker and also make it in time for class. There's also the class I have to pass to graduate but I never go to. One of the reasons I never go is that I can't understand a word the teacher says. I keep wondering how on earth I'll pass the final.

Some of the other dreams fall into the realm of "too much information," so I'll spare you.

Back when my daughter was still in high school, I drove her to school every morning and we'd chat about different things, it was always a nice time to spend with her. I had about ten or fifteen minutes with her during those drives.

I remembered a dream I'd had one morning, so I shared it with her - and this is one I've only had once, thank goodness. I had this cage with bunnies in it. Now, these weren't your usual bunnies - they were very very small, they stood on their hind legs and they were a number of different pastel colors. They marched around in lines inside the cage and, like the various little cats that came out of the hat in the Cat in the Hat story, each was successively a bit smaller than the previous one. That was about it, just the marching pastel bunnies. She shared the story of my weird dream with some of her friends at school and I think they still worry about my sanity.

I either don't have, or don't remember, nightmares. I can read Stephen King's worst right before bed and I don't seem to be bothered by it. I consider myself lucky that way. I also don't seem to talk in my sleep, at least nobody has ever mentioned hearing me do so.

Just a couple non-dream things to share tonight. First off, thank you to those of you who commented with suggestions. I appreciate the kick-start. I'll try to come up with my own ideas, but I'm always happy to write on request if there's something about Dawno you're interested in knowing.

Next is a plug for my Drive By Booking blog. On July 11th it will be a stop on Christine Norris's Virtual Book Tour for her new book Return to Zandria from LBF Books. I hope you'll stop by, I've got an author interview and a review of the book to post that day. After that I'll be reviewing two books by Absolute Write authors - I'll post about that on DBB soon.

Lastly, today was the "Live Earth" concert. I didn't watch it, but I heard something on NPR last week about it that tickled me enormously, the continent of Antarctica was also a venue for a band named Nunatuk, comprised of British scientists at the Rothera Research Station - there's a video clip on the Reuters page.


Kira said...

Sleep games! I play those too, but if I did anything as involved as an actual story, forget sleep! I end up with repetitive songs or mantras. One is this weird pagan goddess song my mother used to sing, and the mantras I make up as my life changes, and my goals shift.

Maybe mantra isn't so much the right word as intentions - but said as mantras. Dunno. It's 2am and neither worked tonight.

Interesting stuff, Dawno!

bunnygirl said...

I don't usually have trouble sleeping, but the right kind of book can help-- non-fiction, something on an interesting topic, but written in a dull style. I think just the motion of eyes back and forth across the page is soothing.

But a book that's too good, too exciting, will keep me up all night, no matter how tired I am!

As for mental tricks, I do a couple that I found in a self-meditation book. In one, you imagine going slowly down a flight of stairs, counting each step as you go down. In another, you imagine slowly sinking into the ocean, watching the light above grow dimmer, watching the fish go by, etc. If you can keep your imagination from running away with you (How am I breathing???), it works pretty well and is very relaxing.

But the biggest sleep aid, IMO, is to just not worry about it. A sure recipe for me to be wide awake is to feel like I need to get to sleep RIGHT NOW!!

AstonWest said...

Manual labor to the point where you're too exhausted not to fall to sleep...

Frank Baron said...

Dawno, I share your semi-long-term wakefulness before Sleep's beckoning hand wins the night. I try to use the time to entertain myself and often succeed with what I've come to call "pre-dreams."

They're kinda like real dreams except the director (you-know-who) is aware of his job. ;)

Crabby McSlacker said...

I have the same recurring dream about being back in school and somehow having forgotten to ever go to class. My mother and sister do too--seems to be very common among the very people who did perfectly well in school!

And to drop off, I have a system sort of like Franks--or maybe not. But I like to encourage random images to come (which eventually turn into dreams), and I sometimes "direct" a little to keep them moving. I But if try to go as passive as possible rather than actively concentrating on anything--it seems to encourage the randomn dreamy part of my brain to get more active.

Jim Melvin said...

This is off the topic a bit, but I went through a stretch of years where I stopped remembering my dreams. I wrote it off to getting older (I'm 49), but recently my wife and I bought one of those ultra-expensive Tempur-Pedics, and suddenly I'm dreaming like crazy again. I think our old bed (a futon) had become so uncomfortable that I rarely reached a deep-enough level of sleep to dream. Now I'm sleeping wonderfully, and I find myself waking up four or five hours later in the exact same position I fell asleep in.

Andrea said...

I usually don't have problems sleeping unless I have something on my mind. I have to really clear my thoughts in order to fall asleep.

serge said...

After my dad died, I dreamed about him quite a bit. He usually would just be there, in the background. Then one day, I said goodbye to him in one of those dreams, and I never dreamed of him again.

Bhaswati said...

I don't fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed either. But reading seems to help. Yes, a page turner can keep me awake, but mostly, reading a couple of chapters would ease me into sleep.

Great stuff about your dreams, Dawno! I share the one where you return to the high school as an adult. I seem to have those too, and in the dreams I am always anxious to pass some test or other. Don't know where those come from! LOL.