Sleep is an auto-mechanism adopted by the body to reinvigorate itself and draw up new energy. During sleep, the body hibernates or shuts off but the mind keeps working. Ideas, images or sensations keep popping up in our brains. At a point in our sleep, these mental pictures may seem so real – and that’s when we start dreaming. The most memorable dreams occur at the phase of sleep called the REM (Rapid Eye Movement), but dreams generally are possible at any other stage while we ae asleep.
The concept and reasons why we dream have not been fully understood. In a dream, we may eventually get carried away such that our bodies begin to feel and act like it is real. When faced with a danger in the dream world, it triggers an adrenalin flow just like when we are awake. We wake up breathing hard, heart pumping faster. Sleep medicine specialist Dr Robert Aronson confirms the general suspicion that a dream has the potential to induce a heart attack. However, he explains further that even as it is possible, there is a very slim chance for this to occur, saying “Healthy people’s hearts are usually more than able to handle the stress of even the most frightening dream.”
Perhaps a bad dream can likely trigger a heart attack, but only for someone who has already been susceptible to it. This is most possible in dreams that occur in the REM stage where every detail feels so real.
Nonetheless, we ought not to let ourselves get carried away while dreaming to the point of not knowing that it is a dream. You can train your mind to decipher in your dream that you are actually dreaming.
DO A REALITY CHECK
1. Ask yourself the question, “am I dreaming?”
This helps a lot. Especially if you have trained your mind to ask this very question when you are consciously awake. Constantly asking yourself if you are dreaming when you are awake will make it more easier for you to ask same in a dream. It awakes you to the consciousness that you might actually be dreaming. This will urge you to start looking for other signs or proofs. Check for consistency, sudden changes in weather and timing.
If everything seems consistent and in real-time, then what you are experiencing is real. But if you notice too many distortions or inconsistencies, then it’s probably a dream.
2. Watch out for distortions
Our eyes, ears and other senses constantly pick up inputs from our environment and relay to the brain. The brain in turn interprets and keeps all records. This makes us feel a lot more conscious of the real world that we have become so used to. But in a dream, everything seems strangely superficial – appearing to be real only momentarily or on the surface.
The world is too fragile, unstable and dangerous. Suddenly, words change on a page, wall glasses shattering or mirrors magically transforming into kaleidoscopes. If you notice one or more of these signs then you may just be dreaming.
3. Confirm an item you always carry on you
There is always that one item that you carry most of the time on you or keep close within your reach. It can be anything, a phone, wallet, necklace, bracelet or finger ring. Check for it. If this item is not close and you have no idea where it would be, then there is a high chance that you are dreaming.
TRY TO RECALL THE PAST
Dreams differ from reality which links up by time – events taking place at present originate from the past and connects to the future. In the dream world, there is no history and no starting point. The story begins from nowhere. You just find yourself in a place and there it begins. If you really want to be sure, ask yourself this question from time to time, “How did I get here?”. If you cannot recall in clear details how it all began, then you are most likely dreaming.
CHECK OUT FOR THESE SIGNS
1. Weakness, you feel drowsy like you are drugged, very sleepy but awake.
2. Fear without reason, you just have this tension built up in you but cannot really understand the reason you are so tensed up.
4. Cynicism, you just feel so critical of the motives of others. You are overtly suspicious and afraid of everything and everyone.
5. You feel like you are floating, flying like a bird, walking or crawling on a wall.
6. You are being chased by a monster, you cannot run fast enough yet it never catches you.
7. Paralysis, you are in danger and your mind feels like fleeing but your legs feel like you are paralysed.
8. Unexplainable stuffs happening around like it’s morning and time for work yet everywhere is still dark or the stairs seem disconnected at some point you have to jump to the other end.
None of the above is capable of happening in the real world. If you are having a very bad day (which could be a nightmare) and notice any strange signs like the above, first ask yourself “am I dreaming?”. And follow up with “how did I get here?”. These two questions should be enough to pull you out of that nightmare.