Dream Dreamer Part 1

Over the years I have met one or two who claim not to dream—they understand the concept of a dream but have never had the experience for themselves.

I for one believe them.

But why should such a statement of belief be required? If they haven’t ever dreamt then…so what?

Because dreaming is essential to the Human condition and their minds would be mush without such a process. Dreaming is mental housekeeping—a kind of mental reset and cleansing.

So here, then, we have a contradiction—people who never dream yet whose mental mechanism requires regular dreaming in order to remain stable—to keep them sane.

Needless to say, those I have encountered were not just sane but actually quite accomplished in their endeavours, not that I am putting that down to their lack of dreaming.

The reason is, of course, that they do in fact dream—they just don’t remember.
When the brain goes to sleep it does a number of things of which two stand out in particular.

First it paralyses the muscles so that you don’t act out dreams—so that you don’t sleep walk.

Secondly it turns off your long term memory recoding—leaving you only with short term scratch memory so that you can experience a dream with some sense of time. One might imagine that it does this so as not to burden you with the horrors you brain is capable of conjuring up.

Both are subject to what could be [unfairly] considered dysfunctional operation. In the 17th Century farmhouse I grew up in there were the remains of iron bars once fitted to the upper windows—to protect a profound sleep walker who once went so far as to set a pony and trap in her sleep.

But it’s the memory management that is key to defining what dreaming actually is.

Those of us that do dream have invariably experienced waking from a dream with a clear memory of it, only to find the moment fleeting. All we are left with is a sense of recollection, the details gone.

Unless, of course, we manually push the dream into long term memory. It’s easy to do—just think the dream through immediately on waking. Writing it down has the same effect.

What this means, though, is that if you do not wake from a dream then you will not remember it—you will have experienced it, but not have a sense or recollection of it. This will be one reason that some people do ‘not’ dream. For others it may be down to the precise nature of their short term memory and how quickly their brains re-engage long term memory.

It seems quite bizarre to me that these individuals will nightly enter what can sometimes be the most twisted of realities and yet know nothing of it. But more than that I wonder at to what places I have been deep in my own sleep that are lost to me because I did not wake.

To dream is to wake from a dream.

Aside from an Advanced O Level in Psychology my only qualification in writing this piece is being a Human Being. Some would say that this is all that is required.