Perchance to Dream

Flying, falling, slow-motion fleeing — who hasn’t experienced dreams? Evidence suggests there’s a method to your mind’s madness. Recent research argues that nocturnal reveries are necessary for mental and physical health — from sifting stress to boosting neurological function.

Cleansing:Emotional turmoil prompts your brain to work it out during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep periods, when most vividly recalled dreams occur. One study found that divorcees who dream about their ex-spouses report more positive moods than those who don’t. Record dreams in a bedside journal before they dissolve. You could dissect meaning, possibly reducing depression and anxiety.

Healing: A small Stanford study found that women with breast cancer who learned imagery techniques designed to increase positive dreams lived longer than those who had the same medical treatment without dream therapy. Plus, dream experts contend certain dreams can shed light on silent physical problems. While no evidence supports this claim, it certainly doesn’t hurt to pay attention… in case your mind knows something your body doesn’t.

Discovering: Tests on rats confirm the REM period affects cell development where memory is processed and stored, which might explain the term “sleep on it.” Dreams may help the mind troubleshoot problems and conjure creativity. Focus on an issue in your life as you drift off… you could awaken with a new perspective.

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