February 08, 2007

Night Dreamer

To die, to sleep...
To sleep, perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause.

Thank God I don't have dreams like that. Then again, I'm also not dead. My point is: some dreams are scary and therefore I am glad not to have them. The truth is I rarely dream at all. Now at this point, I am quite sure people are thinking, "That's not true! You dream all the time. You just don't remember the dreams!" Believe me, I've heard that a million times and I still hold fast to my position.

I don't believe you can truly call something a dream if you don't even remember having had it. Do you want to define a dream as subconscious thought? Then fine, if we're alive we're in a state of dreaming. But that's not what people mean when they say, "I had a dream last night." They mean they woke up remembering having dreamt about riding a unicorn through a forest and being chased by Rodney Dangerfield who was throwing jelly beans and ninja stars at them - and when they finally escaped, they found themselves speaking at the UN. Or at the least they mean they woke with a feeling that they had dreamt - but the memory of the dream has escaped them. They do not mean: "Last night my subconscious continued functioning as normal." When I wake, I don't even have a feeling of having dreamt. So why people give me such a hard time when I claim I practically never dream is beyond me.

Now, that being established, there are several advantages and disadvantages to my predicament. On the one hand, as mentioned above, nightmares sound like not much fun. I can't imagine I would care for them. On the other hand, I also don't get a chance to enjoy dreams where I'm flying or making out with a super model while watching TV and enjoying a pastrami sandwich (the most sensual of all the salted cured meats). But the trade off is that when I sleep I feel I'm maximizing my opportunity to rest my brain - which I believe is just as important as resting the body.

Most of the times that I have remembered a dream it's really been more of a thought than a scenario. One time two years ago I woke up convinced the Cardinals had traded Chris Carpenter. I was incredibly distraught. I couldn't understand why we would trade our best pitcher. Then I realized it was just a dream (nightmare) and went back to sleep. Believe it or not I've even had recurring dreams (pretty amazing for a guy who dreams about once every other month). In my recurring dream, I'm in a play and I've just come out on stage when I suddenly realize I have forgotten to learn my lines. I haven't forgotten my lines. I've forgotten to even learn them! So I have to ad lib. It's very stressful. One time I had this dream two nights in a row. The funny thing was that in the second dream, it was now the second night of performances and I came out on stage only to have the same realization as the previous night. But this time it was far worse in that I couldn't understand why, after the previous night, I hadn't remembered to take the time that day to learn my stinking lines! I'm not really sure what causes this particular dream to crop up in my life from time to time - but I'd be anxious to hear ya'll's thoughts.

In closing - I have agreed to help a fellow grad student with his research by volunteering for a sleep study. It should be quite fascinating. I'll get to see a printout of my heart rate and brain waves and eye movement and all that. Perhaps it will shed some light on my lack of dreaming (as I define dreaming). Then I'll have scientific evidence that I am not a Night Dreamer.

3 comments:

Rach said...

You're clearly much too rational to dream very much.

Dr. Church said...

Well I certainly day dream plenty.
Then again, I'm too rational to follow most of those dreams.

Rach said...

As a rational person myself-- and an avid daydreamer-- I find that daydreaming is a potential continuation of reality. Night dreams, on the other hand, may or may not make sense.