From as far back as I can remember I’ve had night terrors. Only in the last couple of years could I realize that my long history of insomnia had more to do with being terrified and unable to get back to sleep than by actual sleep disruption. Though most people don’t have night terrors, lots of people have weird or disturbing dreams on a regular basis and a lot of people have more dreams than they should. Most of my patients seem to think that a good dream life is a sign of health. A sign of an active creative life and healthy imagination. I’m here to present a different opinion.
So why, when some dreams are so lovely, does Chinese Medicine disapprove?
In Chinese Medicine the night is important in all ways. The night time or yin time is sacred in the sense that it is the only time you can build yin in the body and allow the body to fully rest in order to better metabolize food and build qi and blood. Not only should you not be awake during the night hours, you should be very deeply asleep.
Dreams are a lighter form of sleep and the more active the dream the more active the mind during the yin time. We have all had the experience of sleeping soundly through the night and waking exhausted from a night full of crazy dreams. It feels like we barely slept at all.
According to Chinese Medicine, dreams are caused by three main pathologies: Heat, Fire (far more extreme levels of heat) and Blood Deficiency. The two organs involved are almost always the Heart and the Liver; two blood-oriented organs. Both organs require a certain amount of blood to keep them cool and functioning properly, if they are low on fluids heat accumulates and they get feisty.
When Are Dreams Safe?
Your Dreams Are A Serious Problem
- If you have frequent nightmare or night terrors
- If you are afraid upon waking and lose sleep
- If you sleepwalk, sleep-talk or have night delusions
- If you can’t differentiate between dream life and real life upon waking
- If you are ever afraid of going to sleep because you might dream
Your Dreams Are Worth Contemplating
- If you remember details from numerous dreams in one night
- If you wake exhausted from dreaming all night
- If you have weird, disturbing dreams that leave you feeling unsettled
- If you have occasional nightmares that really shake you
- If your dreams increase right before your menstrual cycle
Your Dreams Are Fine
- If you sometimes remember that you dreamt something
- If you go for weeks at a time without remembering dreams
- If you get “night before a test” dreams and nothing else
- If you occasionally have silly boring dreams
Dreams beget dreams as the lack of sleep only further depletes the cooling fluids of the body and generates more heat. So if your dreams are serious start contemplating ways to improve your overall sleep, make sure you are hydrated and if that doesn’t help come in for a free consultation to discuss ways to address your dream life. Some dreams deserve to be squelched.
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