What is the science of sleep? What is the significance of dreams? How to improve the quality of our sleep?
A child does not have problems with sleep. Deep, undisturbed sleep is a natural phenomenon for a child. However, as we grow into an adult, even after sleeping for eight hours we wake up feeling sluggish. To understand sleep, we must first understand the functioning of the mind.
There is the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the gross layer of the mind. We perceive and respond to the world through the conscious mind. We entertain desires at the conscious state of mind. The subconscious mind is the subtle layer of the mind.
Desire entertained by the conscious mind, but not fulfilled is pushed into the subconscious mind as incomplete cycles. These incomplete cycles continue to linger in the subconscious mind, craving for fulfilment. You desired to meet your friend today but couldn’t – it becomes an incomplete cycle.
You wanted to reply to your emails, but there was problem with the internet – incomplete cycle. Wanted to give a piece of your mind to someone, but circumstances were not conducive – incomplete cycle. The subconscious does not understand what a major desire is and what a minor desire is. For it, everything is an incomplete cycle.
Every day several such incomplete cycles get added to the innumerable incomplete cycles that are already present in the subconscious. If all these incomplete cycles remain as incomplete cycles, you will become mentally disoriented.
Dream is a mechanism provided by nature which releases many of these incomplete cycles by simulating their fulfilment during sleep.
All of people say they don’t get dreams. Wrong! Some people cannot recall their dreams, but everyone dreams. In dream you will either meet your friend or maybe you will find him attending your funeral (in dream everything is possible). Either the internet will be set right, or your left hand will receive the messages and right hand transmit the replies.
You may either scold the one or may even get married to the person in your dream. Though there is a basic rationale to dreams, in general, it defies logic. The purpose is to simulate fulfilment of incomplete cycles and release them from the subconscious mind.
The incomplete cycles simulated and released need not necessarily be the most recent ones – could also be the incompletes of your childhood.
Sleep is not mere resting of the body, but also the quietude of the mind. When thoughts are in the conscious state of mind, it is waking state of consciousness. When thoughts are in the subconscious state of mind, that is, when incomplete cycles get fulfilled through simulation, it is dream state of consciousness. When thought flow ceases, it is deep sleep state of consciousness.
So, what we commonly call as sleep is a combination of dream state and deep sleep state. We might have slept for 8 hours, but if 5 of those hours were in dream state, we have in essence slept only for 3 hours. That’s why that sluggishness.
However, someone else might have slept only for 6 hours, but was in dream state only for an hour – obviously by virtue of a 5-hour sleep, he will jump out of the bed rejuvenated. In deep sleep, energy is conserved. In dream state, because the thought process is still on, there is a lot of dissipation of energy. That’s why disturbed sleep is always tiring.
The older we become, greater the incomplete cycles are, and hence sleep becomes a growing concern. We resort to chemical substitutes to sedate us. Because incomplete cycles are bare minimum or null in a child, the quality of sleep is always rejuvenating.
To improve the quality of your sleep, you must improve the hours of deep sleep; for which you must reduce the hours of dream state, which implies you have to reduce the number of incomplete cycles – at least those that are consciously created. How?
We tend to plan to overdo in a day but end up underperforming and thus accumulate the number of incomplete cycles. It is not because we are incapable but almost as a rule, everything about life takes 30% longer than anticipated.
If this contingency is not provided for in planning, suffering incomplete cycles becomes inevitable. Whether planning a project or allocation of material resources or the delivery schedules or the human resources or the payments expected or payments to be made – build 30% contingency in all your planning.
However well planned, there is nothing perfect about man-made plan. Even with contingency planning, things can go out of control. In those cases, instead of leaving those incomplete cycles to be simulated in your dreams, use your mind in waking state to either reschedule them or drop them.
Let us say you couldn’t send the mails as planned. Don’t leave it to your dreams – it will affect the quality of your deep sleep.
In waking state make a fresh commitment, “Okay I will send it on Sunday.” Having failed to make the payment today, call the supplier and make a fresh commitment. He may take off on you, but even if you avoid him in waking state, he is going to fire you in your dreams.
Might as well spoil your day than your night. This small exercise of re-planning and re-scheduling can go a long way in reducing your incomplete cycles and in enhancing the quality of your sleep.
Also, just before you go to sleep, relax all your muscles. Just run your mind from toe to head and suggest to your muscles to “Relax… relax… relax…” Treat as if your muscle is listening to you and silently communicate to it, “Relax… relax… relax…” When the muscles of the body relax, the nerves within relax and when the nerves relax, the mind too relaxes. A relaxed mind slips into quietude and you will slip into sleep.
Experiencing quality deep sleep is experiencing heaven on earth. Sweet dreams they say. I wish you, sweet deep sleep – after all, sweet days are born from the womb of sweet nights.