“…to sleep, perchance to dream…”

(The title is of course from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Same for the last sentence in the post. One of the all-time great bits of writing, IMHO. (Shakespeare, not me.))

Picture above is from a particularly nice sunset in Cabo.

Sleep is a pretty important part of staying healthy, and my sleep habits are sub-optimal. I’m up a lot at night – I’m what’s called a bimodal, biphasic or bifurcated sleeper, with two fairly deep sleep periods each night interrupted by a period of wakefulness. There’s some evidence that this is normal and even helpful to creativity and stress relief, but most sleep specialists say a monophasic sleep (one long period each night) is the best for health.

But that’s not what got me thinking about sleep. My wife and I are opposites in many ways, including sleep. I need to go to bed early and typically wake early; she’s a night owl and likes to sleep in. My big revelation of late is yet another difference – I drop into a deep sleep quickly and effortlessly, and my sleep is lighter after a few hours. Kathryn is (surprise) the opposite. She struggles to go to sleep, sleeps lightly for hours and then drops into a deep sleep sometime in the early morning.

And now that I’m retired, I dream a lot more. Or at least I remember my dreams much more often. And that’s a lot of fun. I often wake and relive the dream, sorting though its typical weirdness and wondering what it means. Perhaps when I was working I had to rush into my morning schedule so quickly and thoroughly that I brushed the dream memories aside. But I like this better. My dreams are pleasant and quirky, and it’s a part of life I’m happy to rediscover.

I say rediscover because when I was much younger I dreamed a lot, though not pleasantly. I had recurring dreams of something evil chasing me and ultimately cornering me, at which point I would wake up terrified. I called them “the pursuit dreams”, and they persisted from about age nine into adulthood. I don’t know what those were about – I don’t remember any fear or trauma in my early years that would have triggered such a thing. In adulthood the pursuit became more of a maze, where I would work my way though an infinitely long or complex landscape (the steel mill where my dad worked, and I worked for a few summers, was a typical dreamscape), over and over with no end. I would wake up exhausted. Sometime in my adult years the pursuit dream stopped, thankfully. These days I’m happy to fall asleep instantly and enjoy “what dreams may come”.

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