Thursday, 18 August 2011

R.E.M.

3am; can't sleep

Nothing like blogging to keep a very jet lagged me awake through the day. I will therefore go with a post dealing directly with sleep.
One of my recent pleasures lately had to do with being sick. One of the weird effects that being sick has on me is in helping me recall my dreams much more vividly than usual. As in, we all dream several times each night we sleep, but usually we don't remember much if at all upon waking up. I don't know if I'm a freak or not, but when I'm sick I tend to feel like I have the weirdest dreams ever; the thing is, I don't if those freaky dreams really are freakier than usual because I'm sick or whether the fact I'm can't sleep too well (by virtue of the fact I'm sick) helps my ability to remember more of my dreams than I usually do.
One dreamy experience I had this last week which had nothing to do with my own dreams took place when the toddler of the house decided to crash his parents' bed at 2:00AM. Usually he does it when he doesn't feel well, but I suspect this time around it was due to having a bad dream; it was actually I that wasn't feeling too great at the time. You've heard it already: I was sick.
Eventually we all settled down to sleep. Only that as toddlers do, ours turned here there and everywhere; lying on my stomach and doing my best to sleep, the little gem ended up sleeping directly on my back. What does one do? I decided on the stiff upper lip approach and did my best to fall back into sleep.
Only that something weird started taking place: through my relatively sensitive back, I could feel my son's head beginning to shake ever so slightly but continuously. The shakes rocked his entire body, but there could have been no doubt they originated at the head. I was clearly experiencing my son's REM sleep firsthand.
This personal experience of mine leads me to ask a simple question: given the obvious nature of this experience I've had, how come it took science till the 1950s to discover REM sleep? Even then, it was discovered almost accidentally.


Image by slapjack, Creative Commons license

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