You’ve got so much to do, and there’s only so many hours in the day. Where can you cut back? Many people cut back on their sleep. Have you ever tried staying up for a longer period of time than you should? For a lot of people who have been awake for over extended periods of time, most of them seem to recount some relatively similar experiences.
Generally, they all seem to mention that at some point, their eyelids begin to feel heavy and they begin to close their eyes. The very next thing that follows is usually suddenly falling asleep and beginning to dream. While sleep in bed is a positive thing, dreaming behind the wheel of your vehicle is quite a bit less desirable.
Let’s go over how dreams and sleep can be related, and what your dreams might tell you about your quality of sleep.
Dreams Become More Intense
When you go without sleep, it’s entirely possible for you to experience dream states that are deeper and more difficult to wake up from. Researchers that have worked for years to collect data about people who dream after periods of sleep deprivation say that patients reported more detailed and deeper sleep states that were often erratic and frightening.
This could be very dangerous for someone who is carrying out an important task like operating large machinery, like those found in transportation, farm work, and construction; or driving a car. In this modern day, the news has seen plenty of examples of terrible accidents that take place from someone simply being distracted for a short period of time. How much more danger is posed by a person who is virtually unconscious?
You Might Not Dream
When you sleep normally without any interruptions, your mind is allowed to reach REM sleep, which doesn’t normally occur until far into the night – around 3:00 am. If you’re awake for these periods and don’t get the rest that your body needs, your body and your mind won’t feel rested. That will eventually result in your body forcing you to reach a deep sleep when you might not be in a situation safe for sleeping. This can have grave consequences if it’s allowed to go without intervention for a long period of time.
If you are not having dreams that you can remember, then you might not be getting that deep REM sleep you need. This type of sleep is really important for your body and mind to rest properly. This is a good indication that it might be time to talk to your doctor about your sleeping issues, and possibly have a sleep study done.
What You Can Do
I remember being sleep deprived during a period in my life. I was so busy that I was sleeping only about 4 hours per night. I had to take my son to baseball practice early one morning, before work. Luckily, it was after I dropped him off, that I began – not falling asleep at the wheel – but waking up at the wheel! I didn’t even feel myself starting to drift off. My body was forcing itself to go to sleep, never mind that I was in rush hour traffic. I opened my eyes wide and sat up straight, determined to stay awake, but woke up again! It must have been only for seconds that I slept, or there probably would have been a crash. After that, I pulled over to the side of the road and let myself sleep for 15 minutes, before continuing to drive. And started making myself go to bed at a decent hour!
If you feel as though your sleep patterns could be harmful to you or anyone else, it would be a good idea to ask a doctor about some kind of sleep study to help you find out what is causing your sleep issues. Modern science shows us that a large portion of us are in serious need of sleep, and the amount of problems that can take place with a population that is entering sleep states randomly through the day will undoubtedly increase the chance for accidents.