Falling asleep should be the most relaxing activity of our day/night. Ideally, we would all love to drift off into peaceful slumber and dream our own dreams. Whether you want a dreamless sleep or a night filled with multi-coloured and interesting scenes, our imaginations should be aiding us to feel rested and satisfied the next morning (or that morning if you’re a night owl like myself).
Last night my brain betrayed me. It’s not the first time that the old noggin has done so, but it is the first time in a while that I have dreamed about work. I, along with many others, often dream about what is going on in my life, but rarely about my job. Sleep is my refuge. No. Sleep was my refuge. My once secure castle has been breached by projected foes.
Work isn’t even particularly stressful at the moment. I have finally wrapped my head around the thinking that I can not control others actions. I can only control how I react to their actions. Sounds simple. It isn’t.
For a long time I would just get annoyed at everything certain people would do. I would complain incessantly to anyone who would listen, aware that I was harping on about things outside of my control.
I started listening to certain podcasts about positive thinking after my girlfriend told me about them and about other readings regarding positivity. I tried to put it into action but each week would end the exact same; your boy Cian absolutely horsing into bottles of IPA and already dreading Monday.
This week, though, I think I have finally cracked it. There may be the odd flash of annoyance here and there but I am realising that I am harming nobody but myself by reacting to every little slight as if it is the end of the world. As always it is a work in progress.
According to this mental health letter posted by Harvard in 2009, every 90 minutes we cycle between two different types of sleep. We have ‘quiet sleep’, where we relax fully and rest properly with our heart rate dropping, and then we have REM (Rapid Eye Movement) where we dream. Our body temp, blood pressure and heart rate rises to where we may as well be awake. REM contributes to creativity, learning and positive emotional health. We should always aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. We should also aim to not interrupt any of these cycles or sleep schedules. Disruption of sleep can case chaos in our fragile minds.
Now, enough of the facts, Cian, you big nerd!
While I may not be a psychologist (I did fail several psychology courses in college 💪) or a dream analyser, I think it would be safe to say that dreaming about a stressful situation in work means that I am stressed in work. Please let me know if I have made a serious error of judgement there.
If you are working in a stressful job and you are dreaming about that same job that night, something needs to change. We can’t let these things take over both our waking and sleeping worlds. We already spend at least 40 hours a week attached to this place that gives us a paltry sum of money for a lot of work. We shouldn’t have to spend our most peaceful moments thinking about the corporate machine that is milking us of any bit of morning goodwill for our fellow human!
So, especially now if you are working from home where it is harder to switch off and separate yourself from work, we should all try and maintain some healthy habits to rid ourselves of these nightmares.
According to Dr. Rebecca Robins, we should try and sleep in a colder room. Not ice-box temperatures, obviously, but if a bedroom is too hot we are more likely to experience disruptive nightmares.
We should also keep a dream journal. That way we can look back on our dreams, identify patterns and feelings and address the anxieties brought on by nighttime stress.
We mightn’t always like to hear it but eating healthier and exercising a bit more will have positive effects across our lives, including our dreams. Get out for a walk during your lunch break or resist the packet of biscuits after a massive sandwich. It’s tough, I tells ya!
I may write more about lucid dreaming next week. Have you had any experience with work dreams and stress?? Let me know in the comments below 😀