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In 2022, I wanted to start reading again. I had watched a YouTube video about the benefits of reading before bed and decided that it might be something worth trying out. I had no grand aspirations to make reading increase my productivity or to sleep better, I just hadn’t read since I was a kid. So I decided I would start reading instead of doom-scrolling YouTube or Tik Tok. What I didn’t expect was for my bedtime reading to start to bring back my dreams…
Reading Before Bed Made Me Remember Dreams Again
For years, I thought I couldn’t dream. I actually got to the point that I would tell people that I couldn’t dream and hadn’t had a dream since I was a kid. That all changed when I started reading a book for a few minutes before bed.
Did Reading Make me Dream Again?
When I first started reading, nothing changed right away. Reading before bed was just something you could do that I hadn’t done since I was a kid and didn’t have internet access readily available before I went to bed at night.
But eventually, I started reading fiction books again by first starting with the Artemis fowl series I read as a child and enjoyed a lot. Then I started to remember bits and pieces of the concept I would dream about like a flying fairy or an underground tunnel.
I didn’t start vividly dreaming or remembering that I dreamed until I started reading my first ever fantasy novel, the 5 Elements series by Rosie Scott. Once I started reading these very imaginative and very expectation-flipping books, I started dreaming again!
How do You Know if Dreams Are Impacted by Reading?
At first, I was pretty skeptical that dreaming was impacted at all by anything I did in my life. I greeted dreams like an old friend I hadn’t seen in years and was just simply grateful for the experience.
But as I started reading more and more consistently, I remembered more and more of my dreams. I partially think I have Rosie Scott to thank for this newfound experience but it seems like science fiction or fantasy genres are more likely to generate any type of dream that is vivid enough to be remembered.
Do Fantasy Books Make You Dream?
In a few studies, there have been positive links to fantasy books impacting your ability to dream but the most recent and favorable study reported by the BBC shows that children that read fantasy books are more likely to dream at night than their non-fantasy book-reading counterparts.
What are Dreams?
Dreams are psychological phenomena that occur while we sleep. Scientists have documented that dreams occur during what’s called Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
According to science, this stage of sleep and brain activity is very active and resembles the same degree of activity that your brain has when awake and reacting to stimuli.
Dreams are pretty subjective and the scientific community doesn’t quite know for sure why we dream. Many have theorized it’s because our brain uses this time to work through hypothetical stressors in our day that impact our lives.
Why Do We Forget Dreams?
Dreams can be fickle things, with us often forgetting them almost the moment we wake up. But why do we forget the things we dream about?
The answer lies in the nature of human memory. Human memories are not perfect records of events, but more like subjective living documents. It’s been proven historically that not only can human memories be wildly inaccurate, but they can also be influenced by external and internal factors, making them the least reliable way to recall events.
So if we forget small things like what we are for breakfast, it makes sense that dreams can fall into the category of things we easily forget. But what about those crazy dreams that make no sense? Why do we forget those?
Some scientists have hypothesized that dreams are not meant to be remembered. In fact, some people believe that dreams are our brains way of working through problems subconsciously. In this hypothesis, dreams are meant to serve the purpose of allowing our waking mind to find answers to our conscious problems, not to help us remember anything.
What about recurring dreams?
Recurring dreams can be frustrating, and oftentimes haunt us during a difficult time in our lives. But why do recurring dreams happen?
Building on the previously mentioned theory, many believe recurring dreams are your subconscious mind’s way of bringing problems you are ignoring to the surface.
To get rid of recurring dreams, it’s often recommended to meet with a therapist to discuss the underlying problem or use at-home remedies like CBD gummies to help you sleep better at night.
Does Reading Make You Dream More?
It’s well-documented that reading before bed can help you sleep. Plenty of articles have explored why reading before bed makes you sleepy. But does Reading actually impact your dreams?
Some people have reported that reading fiction before dreams can cause pretty vivid dreams while others tend to have vivid dreams regardless of what they do before bedtime.
Why You Might Sometimes Stop Remembering Your Dreams
There are a number of reasons why you might sometimes stop dreaming. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Stress: When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that can suppress REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep when you dream. If you’re constantly stressed, you may not be getting enough REM sleep, which can lead to fewer dreams.
- Medications: Some medications, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medications, can also suppress REM sleep. If you’re taking any medications, talk to your doctor to see if they could be affecting your dreams.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder to reach REM sleep. If you drink alcohol before bed, you may find that you don’t dream as much.
- Lack of sleep: If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to wake up during REM sleep, which can disrupt your dreams. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Age: As you get older, you tend to dream less. This is because REM sleep decreases as you age.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, can disrupt your sleep and make it harder to dream. If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor to see if it could be affecting your dreams.
- Lifestyle changes: If you’ve recently made any major changes to your lifestyle, such as starting a new job or moving to a new city, you may find that you’re dreaming more or less. This is because these changes can disrupt your sleep and make it harder to reach REM sleep.
If you’re concerned about your dreams, talk to your doctor. They can help you identify any underlying medical conditions that may be affecting your sleep. They can also offer tips on how to improve your sleep and get back to dreaming.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article and would like to start reading before bed, I recommend starting with a Kindle instead to help you avoid the blue light that comes from your phone and if you use Kindle Unlimited as I do, you get access to all the books I discovered included plus hundreds of other books across all genres.
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