Let your brain do all the work

One of the more fascinating, ephemeral, confounding things in life is the idea that when we sleep, our brains are still at work, making up stories — often laughable and improbable, and often frighteningly realistic – that we may or may not be aware of when we wake.

Dreaming has always been something I've aspired to know more about. What's its function? Do dreams operate by any standard rules? Can they be manipulated with practice? Is it possible they are more than just an info-dump and have a connection to another part of life that we manage to avoid throughout the day? Why doesn't the brain just shut down all but the necessary bodily functions — breathing, blood circulation, digestion, etc. — when we sleep? Is dreaming a necessity to ensure that we will wake up without the aid of alarm clocks; are dreams just meandering poetic stories with climaxes meant to startle the body into consciousness?

Some nights I'd swear so.

I doubt my informal research will definitively answer these questions for me. And, really, that's part of what's so special about dreams; they exist just just beyond our grasp of understanding them fully, so we have to take them for what they are: Pure mysteries invented inside our skulls when our eyes are closed and our rational selves have checked out for a bit.

So, here we are at a blog — the proper way to explore an impulse in the 21st century, of course — where several team members will document their dreams in as much detail as possible. It'll be sort of like story time, only we're making nothing up. These stories already exist, invented by an idle brain and hopefully recalled by an addled memory.

There are no set rules about what to post or how often; team members don't have to post about every dream, but the more posts the better, obviously. The only rule I see as necessary for now: I would like to keep the blog as truthful as possible; fictionalizing or fudging details is discouraged, even though I know how difficult it can be to convey certain parts of dreams that are so vague that they exist in our memories as just gut feelings. It might seem easier to just plug in info that seems like it would logically stitch the dream together, but it detracts from the idea of documenting. We will write only what we can remember and describe, and if you need to note in the middle of a dream that you can't quite describe what's going on, then that's preferable to making stuff up that seems like it would fit.

Names of real people should, if at all possible, be preserved. But I understand the need to change names in particularly embarrassing dreams (I've had a few of these and probably will have many more).

You can also feel free to talk about your own personal dreaming patterns and dreams you've held onto throughout your life. And you can post and comment on news stories that involve dreaming.

Basically anything goes, so long as it's truthful and dream-related.

The idea here is to tell the stories our brains made up for us when we were sleeping, and, if it's possible, to ponder and maybe even figure out why we dreamed what we did. My own personal goal is to become more aware of my dreams, and to remember them more clearly from night to night and nap to nap.

So get some sleep, and meet me back at Nocturnal Admissions in the morning.

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