The official site of the sleep-deprived

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who is The Watcher?

For the past four nights I have awoken at 4:44. Nothing particularly noteworthy about that other than – how does that happen? How can someone wake at precisely the same hour and minute four nights in a row?

All of my life I have had the ability to wake up at exactly the time I intended; I’ve never needed an alarm clock. How does that happen? As far as I know, only my waking consciousness understands the man-made concept of time – so what part of me is lying awake watching the clock?

There are nights when I’ve attempted to trick the clock-watcher by choosing randomly odd times to awake, like, 1:27. Didn’t matter – the watcher was not amused. I don’t know about you, but I find this a fascinating phenomenon. Since I know I’m not the only one who can do this I have to wonder, has anyone ever done a study on this? Is there a sleep institute somewhere handing out grants?

Do you suppose this task falls under the job description of guardian angels? Page 2,037, paragraph 3, second sentence, “become familiar with the peculiarity of the human race called “time” and whatever you do, do not allow your human to sleep past their arbitrarily-appointed hour and minute.” With everything else mine has to deal with during the night like making sure I don’t walk into the closet by mistake, steering my bare feet away from the big ugly bug by the bed, or holding onto me so I don’t fall into the toilet in the dark, I would think she’s much too busy for clock watching.

If anyone would like to share their thoughts on this, try me tomorrow morning – say, 4:44?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Deja Vu Dreams

Dreams enable us to transcend the boundaries of time and space to peek into the future. Seers often report that their dreams convey information about upcoming events, and we find many examples of dream prophecy in spiritual texts. In fact, precognitive dreams aren’t particularly rare––lots of us have them, yet we may be baffled or unnerved by their appearance. How can we know about things that haven’t happened yet?

Einstein’s work showed that time isn’t linear. Rather than being like an expressway from the past to the future, time more closely resembles a winding mountain road that bends around and occasionally curves back on itself, so that you periodically catch glimpses of the same scenery in the course of your journey––hence, the experience we call déja vu or “already seen.” Some Eastern spiritual traditions believe that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously, like a mountain range with peaks and valleys.

One night I dreamt I found a black cat on the side of the road. At first I thought it was dead, but when I touched it the cat woke up. I took it to a vet who told me the cat had distemper and suggested performing surgery immediately. The cat didn’t seem particularly ill to me, so I refused to let him operate.

The next day while I was out walking I spotted a black cat lying in the gutter. It appeared to be paralyzed and I thought it had been hit by a car, although I saw no sign of injury and it didn’t seem to be in pain. I knocked on the doors of all the houses in the area, but no one answered, so I took the cat to a vet. The vet surmised that the cat must be near death and recommended doing an autopsy to see if it had a contagious disease that might infect my cats.

Remembering my dream, I refused and took the cat home instead. Later I returned to the neighborhood where I’d found the cat and again knocked on doors until I located the cat’s confused owner. She told me she had no idea how the cat had gotten out––it had been paralyzed from birth because its mother had contracted distemper during pregnancy.

When I related my dream, she grew even more amazed. The previous night she’d dreamt her cat had disappeared!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The God of Dreams

The drug morphine was named for Morpheus, the god of dreams in ancient Greek mythology. Morpheus is said to infuse dreams with visions of humans and to give shape to the beings that inhabit dreams.

According to many dream researchers, everyone who appears in your dreams represents an aspect of you. Who inhabits your dreams? Do any particular characters turn up with regularity? What facets of yourself do you meet when you're asleep? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Witching Hour

According to an old Pagan belief, the time between midnight and 3:00 A.M. on the night of the full moon is the “Witching Hour.” During this period, the veil between the spirit world and earth supposedly thins, allowing entities from other realms to visit us humans.

Some Christians call 3:00 A.M. the “Devil’s Hour.” Based on the idea that Jesus died at 3:00 P.M., this theory proposes that the opposite point on the clock belongs to the dark side, i.e., demonic forces whose power is strongest at this time.

Regardless of whether you subscribe to either of these concepts, you may experience unusual or inexplicable occurrences between three and four in the morning. Many people report hearing sounds or smelling aromas that have no discernable source. Others say they sense the presence of nonphysical beings––angels, spirit guides, deceased loved ones––when they wake during this eerie hour. One summer night several years ago, when my sister slipped into a coma unexpectedly, I awoke to the tinkling of tiny bells and the scent of her perfume. She died a few days later.

Researchers suggest that we reach the deepest levels of sleep between 3:00 and 4:00 A.M., and that the most vivid dreams of the night are likely to occur at this time. During this stage, our awareness may expand beyond the normal range, enabling us to perceive other levels of reality. If we’re fearful, or conditioned to believe that evil lurks in the shadows, we might interpret our early morning experiences as demonic rather than instructive.

Many of us find ourselves wide awake at, well, 3:15 in the morning. This is the time when I often do my best thinking. With nothing to distract me, I can no longer avoid whatever issues I’ve pushed aside during the daytime. In the still of the night, my subconscious finally feels free to offer up insights I might otherwise block or reject, giving me a chance to explore them at length.

I must admit, though, that I often feel alone and vulnerable in the darkest hours of the night. Problems tend to look scarier, bleaker, more formidable and beyond my control. Perhaps that’s the real meaning of the “Devil’s Hour”––when we come face to face with our own Shadows (as Jung called the repressed part of the psyche), the personal demons that lurk in our inner darkness.

Do angels or demons visit you at night? Do you find the early hours of the morning serene or sinister? We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are you awake? Or are you dreaming?

Okay, I had another one of those MADDENING dreams last night – we all have them – the one where you’re trying to make a phone call and the phone is missing numbers, or entire keys, or you’re talking and the other person can’t hear you, or you can see the entire keypad and numbers but for some reason your fingers keep hitting the wrong ones? Often in my dream I’m also in a hurry which only amplifies the confusion.

For years I’ve wondered what was behind these frustrating dreams. And maybe that’s it. Maybe they’re nothing more than the manifestation of the things that frustrate us about being alive, about being in this body, and on this physical plane. Communication is a huge issue in our daily reality – trying to be heard, to be understood, to understand what someone else is trying to say, to get a point across. If we communicate inappropriately we risk hurting another’s feelings. I mean, how often do you feel like you had a truly stellar communication day? Where the entire day you were diplomatic, empathetic, sensitive, humorous, and able to access exactly the right words every time in every encounter? Maybe these dreams are the culmination of the frustration we feel in general with our lack of communication and inter-personal skills.

What I have learned about these dreams is that they can be excellent triggers to alert me to the fact that I’m dreaming. When things start to act up and turn strange I have the perfect opportunity to stop and realize I’m dreaming. Once I realize I’m dreaming I can often turn the frustration into a productive lucid dream experience instead.

Another type of trigger, which has some interesting side effects of its own, is to ask yourself, whenever you think of it, “am I awake or am I dreaming?” Do this long enough and you’ll find yourself saying it in your dreams as well. And when you find yourself stopping to consider this question in a dream, you realize that in that moment you also have the ability to completely change direction if you like.

What has happened for me as a long-term result of this practice is that it has blurred the line considerably between “waking life” and “dream state.” Go ahead and try it right now. Ready? Out loud, ask yourself the question, "am I awake reading this or am I dreaming I'm reading this?

Are you sure?

How do you know?