I awakened the other morning while still in REM dream sleep. Although I don’t recall if my eyes opened into reality from a dream or nightmare (it could have been a mix of both), I was uncomfortable with the experience.
You’ve probably experienced a similar occurrence as your alarm clock went off. You’re in a state of disorientation for several seconds before realizing you’re “awake”–no longer sleeping in a land of dreams and nightmares.
When becoming conscious in the middle of a dream, did you ever wonder if there’s a correlation between the sleep and conscious states? Perhaps, we even create our realities based on our perceptions from both?
I know this sounds a bit metaphysical but neurochemistry is at play here. Most of us spend a third of our lives sleeping. The 7-8 hours we’re asleep give our minds and bodies a chance to re-create. Neurotransmitters in the brain are active as we sleep. When dreaming, REM (rapid eye movement) occurs.
While most people say they don’t recall their dreams and nightmares after getting up, changes in our brains at night become part of our reality the next morning. Neurons firing while we sleep create new connections in our brains. These new connections affect our perceptions of the world around us–in other words, our realities.
Deepak Chopra claims that every atom in our bodies is replaced every twelve months, a new liver in six months and skin each month. Why wouldn’t brain chemistry changes as we sleep also contribute to our views of reality?
Numerous authors have spoken about the “land of dreams and nightmares.” In “The Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan,” we read: “…what has been called his ‘topsyturveydom,’ though presumed to be confined to the land of dreams and nightmares, are constantly reproduced in the matter-of-fact course of life.”
Elizabeth Brooke in “A Wisewoman’s Guide to Spells, Rituals and Goddess Lore” claims that “the astral (emotional plane), the land of dreams and nightmares, connects us to the feelings of our group, country or planet.”
A more contemporary example from San Diego Magazine in 2001: “Hogue loves the desert…a place he describes as ‘a land of dreams and nightmares, where the waking world meets the fantastic shapes of the bent forms of the imagination.'”
So next time you have a “bad night’s sleep” or nightmare, consider it a blessing in disguise, because, while awake or sleeping, our reality may come from living in a land of dreams and nightmares.