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Friday, May 6, 2011

Don't Fall Asleep With The TV On. You Could Have Very Weird Dreams.

Weird dreams from real life.
Many a night, I doze off in my La-Z-Boy chair during a PBS program or something else that fails to overpower my drowsiness. I've learned a valuable lesson: Don't fall asleep with the TV on. You could have very weird dreams. And I do mean weird.

When you sleep, dreaming usually occurs only during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is a very deep sleep. People who fail to achieve REM sleep rarely dream. Dreaming is actually good for you. However, no one likes a nightmare.

Most dreams are strange. You meet odd characters, you have strange relationships, you're in environments you've never seen in your conscious life and the most bizarre things can happen.

Only within the last year has this strange phenomenon happened to me in my dreams. If I fall asleep with the TV on, my dreams will be influenced by a program or two that airs while I'm sleeping. I either become part of the show or the dialogue of the show becomes the dialogue in my dream.

I discussed this with my psychologist and she responded like she had never heard of this before. Supposedly, when you are in REM sleep and dreaming, your mind blocks out external stimuli - supposedly. I'm not a sleep expert, so I'm not sure. All I know is that lately some pretty weird things have been happening while I'm sleeping.

One bizarre dream had me driving an RV. The RV didn't have a regular driver's seat and steering wheel. It had an open bench mounted on the front and I controlled the direction of the RV with a 3 foot long joystick-like rod. There were pedals on either side of the joystick between my legs, but neither pedal did anything.

As the dream unfolded, I was rambling over fields with my runaway RV. I couldn't stop the damn thing, no matter how much I pounded on the pedals with my feet. The joystick did control the direction of the RV, but not very accurately - so I was yanking that stick from right to left, trying to avoid trees and animals.

As in most dreams, it got weirder. Next thing I know I'm on an ice rink during a hockey game. I'm speeding around the ice rink like a drunken Zamboni and I was smashing the players. I kept yelling in a completely stressed manner, "Get out of the way. Get out of the way." But they wouldn't listen. They kept chasing the puck and my RV was like a magnet to that round rubber disc. More players were smashed. And they kept coming.

The next thing I know I'm up. I look at the TV and there was a hockey game on.

Another nutty dream I had took place in the backyard of the home I grew up in. No one in my family owns the home anymore. I was sitting on the patio and I was watching a good friend of mine from Michigan mow the lawn. He kept mowing the same five foot square of grass, over and over.

As he mowed, he spoke. But his voice was not his. He was speaking in a slow even tone, almost as if he was reading a script.

He was saying things like, "The snow melt from the mountains comes down in the spring." A pause. "Birds and woodland creatures come out of their winter dwellings and repopulate the forest." Pause. "Bears roam freely in the surrounding area."

The whole time I'm watching my buddy mow the grass and thinking to myself, "WTF is wrong with him?" I kept trying to talk to him, but he'd resume this seemingly mindless narrative.

When I woke up, I was in the middle of a PBS documentary on the Pacific northwest. Are you starting to get the idea here?

My latest dreaming adventure happened during an episode of Simply Ming on PBS, a cooking show hosted by Ming Tsai. I was dreaming that I was on the set of the show and I was helping Ming cook. I love cooking, so this was like a dream come true for me. Being a dream, nothing was what you'd expect it to be. I kept screwing up. Not just screwing up, but screwing up big time. I was dropping trays of food. I fell down. My hand went in a hot Wok. Ming kept shaking his head and trying to progress with the show. He seemed flustered, but managed to keep the show moving along. Meanwhile, I'm totally turning the behind the scenes area into a food covered mess. I'm slipping and sliding on piles of food like one of the Three Stooges.

The dream ended and I kept sleeping until I woke up hours later. But I knew that Simply Ming was on the schedule that night.

Having strange dreams as the result of outside stimuli are not new to me. I've always been an extremely heavy sleeper. Even today, alarms are useless to me. Years ago, I thought I'd buy a really loud harsh alarm. All it did was create a daily dream of a train running by for an hour, then it quit. I'd wake up two hours late and be late for work. I'm not good at keeping jobs either.

Recently, I've been hitting the "Sleep" mode on my TV, so that it turns off at some point after I've fallen asleep. Although, the weird dreams are kinda fun.

So, don't fall asleep with the TV on. You could have very weird dreams. And you might learn to play hockey while you sleep.

Related articles:
How To Sleep Better By Using A Relaxation Technique 
Please Support PBS Programs, The Cure For Insomnia

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