I've found that often when I'm dreaming (or at least, the dreams I remember) I tend towards dreaming that I'm chowing down on junk food, or that I'm in a highly stressful situation.
I had 4 such dreams last night: one where I was having a huge pig-out in McDonalds (even though I haven't been there since I was 12 :s), another where I was in the passenger seat of a speeding car which wasn't slowing down fast enough to avoid the car in front (I awoke on 'impact' breathing pretty hard, then rolled over and went back to sleep easy enough), a third where I was a little girl being chased by a policeman and I couldn't run fast enough, and then (as if all this wasn't enough), I got caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse (dino-and-screaming-human?) with a T-Rex who could only eat me when there wasn't foliage on my head.
When I wake after 'binging' I actually feel disappointed with myself until I clear my head a little and realise 'twas all a dream.
I guess I'm just wondering if the human body releases hormones in response to these 'situations', especially given the other symptoms of increased heart rate and faster breathing, and more importantly if it's something I should be concerned about? Should I try meditation or deep breathing before bed or anything, or is this pretty typical?
Or maybe my body's telling me that I don't have enough stress in my life right now (university holidays) so it's having to manufacture some and what I should really do is go on an epic adventure? ;D
asked byOz_1 (410)
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on July 25, 2012
at 02:03 PM
What are you eating, and how close to bed?
Nightmares can be a symptom of hypoglycemia. Do you wake up sweating or confused? http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/
To answer your question, yes, your body can release cortisol in reaction to stress, even if the stress isn't real.
on July 25, 2012
at 10:38 AM
You're opening a huge door into psychoanalysis here. :) From what I've seen, what we dream about is what we worry about/think about.
The subconscious mind seems to be a "What if" engine when it comes to dreaming. It's setup so we can safely practice various scenarios while we're asleep so we can figure out the best strategies to avoid tigers or whatever else may be threatening us.
So if you have the same dream over and over again, you're ruminating a problem and trying to come to terms with, or trying to find a solution to something, and each dream is a variation to see what the outcome might be. Think simulation.
If they're intense enough, or our stress levels are high enough, we wake up during one of these and remember it. Usually, we don't because we don't wake and we lose the information at a conscious level.
There was some article I read a few years ago that said that when we sleep, our brain shuts down in various areas as they sleep (think of a puzzle or a grid, where different pieces shut down at different times, but we only experience the pre-frontal cortex because that's where the "I" is.) Since long term memory is one of these parts that shuts off temporarily during sleep, we forget the dreams. Mind you, it's not fully turned off, and not all the time, but just enough to not actually convert short term to long term during dreaming, because it's busy converting/processing what you've learned during the day.
The coolest thing is when you're struggling over a problem during the day, and go to sleep, then the next morning you just know the solution but have no idea how you came up with the answer. :) Anyway, don't want to get too much off topic...
The contents of your dreams are probably because you just started on Paleo and it's a new thing that you're trying to process/deal with. Probably at the pre-frontal cortex level, everything is nice and squirreled away and ready to rock & roll, but your subconscious hasn't yet fully processed all the ramifications.
Now, there's another issue here, if you're very low on blood sugar, you may cause insulin spikes while you sleep, because cortisol is the signal that breaks down proteins and sets them to be converted to glucose. This can interrupt sleep. So if you can make sure you eat either enough protein at dinner to do gluconeogenesis, or protein with just enough carbs to keep from going low on glucose, and make sure you don't go to sleep immediately after dinner - you need a couple of hours for it to be digested, or it will disturb sleep.
TL;DR: if you're exercising like crazy, and doing IF's, and doing VLC, you're going to stress yourself out.