Tag Archives: brain

Perchance to Dream! What Does it Mean?

4 Jun

Well, I spent Tuesday night at one of the Toronto Sleep Clinics (Bathurst and Dundas), hooked up to extensive sleep measuring equipment and today, maybe as a result, feel sufficiently motivated to write another post about my medical experiences this year. The referral to the Toronto Sleep Clinic was made when I was discharged by Sunnybrook, as my sleeping habits were not considered particularly healthy. My sleep pattern, for as long as I remember, was to sleep little overnight, frequently work into the night and then early in the morning and during the day possibly have episodes of tiredness. 

I knew nothing about sleep studies until this current experience and was amazed to read that so much information is gathered from an overnight stay that it forms the basis of an 800 page data report that takes four to five weeks to analyze. I can hardly wait for the results!

I had to complete questionnaires before and after my period of recorded sleep and there was a strong link between stress/concerns of the participant and sleep. Questionnaires are interesting. I have completed many and usually face the same dilemma. If there are, for example, one hundred questions/statements to be rated on a scale of 1 to 5, I may be interested in or have strong feelings about one or two, but have little interest in most and rate them all the same – usually positive as that seems a reasonable default if I feel nothing negative.

I have to say that my overnight stay at the sleep clinic was very comfortable with my own room and very attentive and friendly staff to help and encourage. They were able to rationalize the concept of recording the sleep pattern of people with difficulty sleeping, over an 8 hour period, and what I thought would be very difficult – remaining in bed until 7.00 a.m. – was not a problem. I recorded waking up about eight times during the night, but they were just interludes between quiet times and a few nice dreams.

I had to feel comfortable about my every move being watched, listened to, and recorded, and the absence of any privacy, but my other hospital stays in 2015 had prepared me for that. The watchfulness of the staff was particularly demonstrated when after a series of pleasant dreams I sat up to think about them and almost immediately a nurse came in to make sure everything was o.k. 

I recorded in earlier posts how my dreams at the hospital were about alternative reality, changing the situation in quite a nice way. At the sleep clinic, my dreams were more standard (for me) including travel (London, Montreal), collectibles and friendly encounters. The collectibles I dreamt about in this case were medals that somehow connected to a church exhibition (same dream sequence) I attended. Probably I consider dreams about collectibles (not a precise category) as among the most interesting. I may be browsing through old books or photos and find interleaved notes (or other “treasures”), or find an old guitar, or even selections of true collectibles including coins, stamps, books, comics and various antiques. I think my interest is primarily the uniqueness of the dream items and what they represent rather than their value. With an old guitar, I can play it and often better then in “real life” – a real bonus!

In this post, I cannot offer any advice or insight into the sleep assessment process. I received no feedback following the session which is probably not surprising if, as previously mentioned, they first have to review 800 pages of data about me. However, the objectives are important and can be very helpful and the experience is quite pleasant. I look forward to receiving the results of my assessment and the only advice I will give to people considering such a study is not to drink too much in advance as being unhooked from masses of wires and electrodes to be able to go to the washroom (each occasion and then to be re-hooked) can be daunting!

Thank you for your interest. I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.

Ian

How Far has Modern Civilization Advanced?

24 May

Can we really claim our civilization is advanced? Advances in technology are astounding including space travel and DNA mapping, but has human potential – except to live longer – really advanced? Has our ability to reason and our understanding of subjects at greater depth increased or diminished as we become bombarded daily by diverse information (e.g. internet based) that possibly leads us to understand much, but only in a fleeting way.

Have we become one way receivers of information that we generally accept rather than debate? Is it too easy to search online and find an acceptable answer rather than think through a subject and develop well thought out personal positions and conclusions? Is there increasing acceptance of one way communication and is that contributing to the dulling of our minds?

Throughout history, regular people have been like sheep having to accept proclamations of the ruling class and spiritual leaders. Is the impact of the internet similar? Do we control the internet or does the internet control us? Will the internet continue to grow as a tool for brainwashing society? Is it all bringing us too close to George Orwell’s “1984”?

One fear I have is that we live in a fearful world. We have learned to fear and be mindful of obscure illnesses, drinking alcohol, restricting our diets, remaining slim and exercising regularly. There are so many rules controlling things and we are possibly far more capable of stretching out life a few years, but not necessarily increasing the quality of our lives.  If we constantly worry about what could go wrong, that must inhibit the ability to explore and experience life to the fullest.

On a personal level, our senses, particularly sense of smell, have been delegated to a very perfunctory role. The natural smells, particularly between people, are no longer key to mutual attraction or emphasized in other respects. Our sense of smell has been pushed into the background with more emphasis on what we don’t want to smell than what we do want to smell.

Listening and hearing, particularly natural and sounds of nature is less important as our electronic devices can occupy us constantly with ongoing communication and music. It can be pleasant, but is it lessening our appreciation of what is natural and real in life? I frequently notice babies in strollers being pushed by nannies talking continuously, it seems, on the phone. Will the baby learn to listen to birds, animals and enjoy conversation, or just look forward to having his/her own phone? Our sight experiences are similarly affected with far more emphasis on viewing things on screens than in real life.

It is not, I must admit, my dream to be in wide open spaces using our human senses to their fullest capability, but that may not be a bad idea. Our senses function in conjunction with our brain and if they are allowed or encouraged to function at high sensitivity, it may correspondingly open our minds and heighten our ability to experience. Could that make us wiser and able to understand more? Could that be a path to greater enlightenment?

Enlightenment in earlier generations was often associated with drugs. We continue to be obsessed by drugs, whether legal medication or illegal mind enhancers. In the attempt to prolong life, it is now possible to detect thousands of things (if you believe all the advertising) including dangerous foods and city-life in general that need to be treated with medication.

So, most of the “civilization” of today are on drugs of one kind or another. They obviously alter our senses, particularly as the function of many is to lessen pain and anxiety. They are used for understandable reasons, but the downside is that they must, to some extent, also be dulling our natural senses.

In a similar context to medication, we can also consider the focus of exercise programs followed by many people. There are important and logical reasons why they are followed, but are we addressing our body more as a machine rather than focusing on the control panel which is the brain? If the brain controls all the moving parts, could exercising the brain deal with aches and pains and other problems better than forcing movement of the body to try to overcome the programming of the mind? Are people more ready to engage physical exercise than to expand, understand and better utilize our brain as the holistic “leader” of our body and soul?

Are we truly evolving as increasingly enlightened human beings or has our environment and social focus put us in a holding pattern? Are we, in effect, trading some higher values to achieve longevity and more physical (superficial?) goals? In many ways our lives seem more adapted to receiving facts, dealing with physical issues and living longer than to experiencing at the highest level possible and harnessing the potential power of our minds.

What do you think? Are we advancing solidly ahead, or at most, standing still? Is it possible that our ability to experience our environment and personal relationships has diminished rather than heightened over the years! That would be very sad in spite of all our technological advances!

Thank you for your interest. I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.

Ian

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