Over the past few weeks, I have noticed my sleep become quite poor again.
Ever since I was little, sleep has been an "issue" for me. I remember going for sleepovers and asking my friends "how do you manage to get to sleep so quickly?!" with their reply always being something useful like "well I'm tired." I used to be in awe at how they could be snoring to their heart's content within five minutes of their head hitting the pillow.
I've been a sleep-talker for years. My most commonly used phrase is shouting at my sister, telling her to get out of my room. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever actually had a dream about that scenario..! I get quite loud when I talk, and have often woken up the entire household while I'm still in the land of nod (oops). My talking and/or shouting will frequently wake me up. It's horrible when I'm chattering away and I wake up mid-sentence. I tend to feel really out of sorts, which I've always put down to it being a very blurred line between being awake and asleep. I've been quite lucky to have experience a few occasions of "dream giggling" and waking up to that - I must admit, that does brighten my day.
In the past, when I've been particularly low, or The Man is close, or I've been quite high on the anxiety scale, my sleep becomes disturbed. That could be not being able to drift off for hours on end, or waking up in the night due to anxiety for example. But recently, I've wondered if the reason I have been so tired is because of the dreams I've been having, and for the first time ever, I've decided to keep a track of them.
The Dream Dictionary & Record book I picked up from The Works for about £2 when I was on honeymoon. It has some basic dream interpretations at the back, and space to write about your dreams with really handy prompting questions.. You're encouraged to try and recall details like interiors and colours. The only downside of the book is that I can't write in something so small! The line spaces are minuscule and I have quite big writing, so I bought a cheap notebook and have decided to use the diary as a guiding tool.
I've only been recording my dreams for the past three nights or so, and therefore, I'm yet to decide what I'll do with the information. What I have found is that I really enjoy doing this. I have extremely vivid dreams, and being able to write every excruciating detail down is oddly quite comforting. I've even thrown in the odd doodle when I've thought it might help jog my memory at a later date.
What have I recognised so far? Well, a lot of my dreams seem to have something to do with control, for example not being able to fix a situation, or protect someone from getting hurt. And when I'm struggling in a dream, no one listens. People seem to ignore me completely, and I get the impression I deserve this treatment. I'm able to write down how I feel in the dream, which might come in use at a later date somehow. I can recall if I felt panicked or anxious, if I was tearful, in a rush, frustrated or scared. I think this is some way perhaps in which my anxiety is manifesting itself through my dreams.
I told my OT today that this was something I'd started, and he asked some good questions, most of which I didn't really have an answer for! He asked what I thought I might get from this, and how it might be useful, and I hesitated. What will this solve? I can't control a dream, as far as I'm aware, so what's the point in jotting essays about it down? The only thing I could think of at that moment was that it gives me something to do, a focus. For some unknown reason, I feel I should be doing it. Plus, I enjoy it. It's like a make-shift story I've created from scratch, which, however nasty and cruel they can be, is actually quite interesting to watch unfold.
Another thing I chatted to my OT about was that I'm not doing this for any spiritual reason. What I do believe though is that there is a "message" in my dreams of some description, but I think it's a way of my mind telling me I'm not looking after myself somehow and I need to figure it out. Maybe these dreams about control are indeed linked to my anxiety, and therefore, I need to establish what it is I'm worried about not being in control of. The upset/anger/frustrated parts of me in the dream seem to be a running theme, and I wonder if this is more of a mood thing. I'm struggling to bring myself up from lows at times, so what do I need to change to avoid me falling too low in the first place? Am I frustrated in my dreams because I'm frustrated with myself in "reality?"
I don't believe that my dreams will be the answer to everything, but what I do know is that they're some sort of reflection of my current state of mind, and it's like a little warning light that has come on to inform me to take care of myself. Perhaps this is a positive step - I'm becoming more active in keeping track of my moods in some ways.
Watch this space and we'll see what happens..! I'd love to hear from anyone else who has kept/keeps a dream journal and whether they have any hints or tips for the complete novice over here.