“It was a cool vampire dream that would make a cool vampire novel,” said ABC Radio WA host Glynn Greensmith, of the dream he had while he was sick.
Glynn invited me onto his early morning show yesterday to talk about dreams, wondering if there was a link between being sick and having unusually vivid dreams. Well, is there? We dream several times every night, so why is it that some dreams are more vivid than others?
Our dreams tend to be most vivid when we’re experiencing change, challenge or inner conflict. Of course, the solution to inner conflict and to overcoming challenge is to change, but sometimes we need a little help in seeing what to change, and how. It’s at times like this that we tend to get sick, isn’t it? On a simple level, most illnesses are stress-related. On a deeper level, you can read the health of the body as a direct reflection of the health of the mind.
On yesterday morning’s show, we didn’t discuss Glynn’s vampire dream, though just knowing the dream featured vampires suggests Glynn may have been feeling drained of energy (as if his lifeblood was being sucked out of him), or needing an energy boost, or, given that vampires bite into the neck, conflicted over a communication issue, or feeling under pressure to convert in some way, to become ‘one of them’, not a vampire, but a member of some other kind of tribe. Without the details of the dream, this is all conjecture. Glynn’s question was more general.
So dreams may be more vivid when you’re sick because they reflect the stressful issues underlying the sickness. When you interpret these dreams, you can discover the nuts and bolts of the core issues and beliefs contributing towards the sickness, then acknowledge and address these using dream alchemy.
Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – was a dream interpreter who worked in this way. His work is immortalised in the symbol of the caduceus – the entwined snakes. (More info: see my blog A tale of two snakes.)
Some medications result in vivid dreams. One reason is that medication (especially anything designed to help you sleep) can block REM sleep (the phase commonly associated with dreaming), so it’s only when the drug begins to wear off that the dreaming mind has a chance to squeeze in a whole night’s essential dreaming work into a very short time. This phenomenon of vivid dreams towards the end of the sleep period is known as REM Rebound. The same thing happens when you drink a lot of alcohol: no dreams all night then wham-bam, REM Rebound.
Medication can also cause vivid dreams because the drug is perceived, by the body and mind, as an invader, a foreign substance. While we may need some medication to aid our healing, or keep us alive, if it blocks the old communication lines between body and mind, our dreams let us know about it. When pain is the body’s way of communicating that something is wrong – that we have an unaddressed emotional pain making itself heard in the body – is it really helpful to block that pain? The dreaming mind may up the ante, reflecting the situation in increasingly vivid dreams.
Viruses, bacteria, toxins and other disease-causing agents may be reflected in invasion dreams: people breaking into your house or bedroom, perhaps even vampires breaking into your blood supply.
Being forced to take time off work because you’re sick can bring up dreams reflecting a whole host of challenges: how will people at work survive without me; who will do my job; will I lose my job; how do I really feel about being at home all day; and so on.
It’s a huge subject, but I’m not here to write a book, I’m here to write a blog.
Talking about books, I wonder if Glynn has thought any further about making his cool vampire dream into a cool vampire novel.
Didn’t Stephenie Meyer get the idea for her cool vampire novel, Twilight, from a dream she had in 2003?
Also see: Can dreams help heal disease?