Everything you’ve got in your life is an expression of your level of awareness (Bob Proctor) and when you change your level of awareness, everything starts to shift. It’s fascinating.
Today’s podcast I’m going to share how my awareness expanded as I began researching for an upcoming interview and what’s absolutely amazing about this experience, is that “once the mind has been expanded, it will never go back to its original state. Awareness is not something you lose.” (Bob Proctor).
On this episode we will cover:
✔︎ Why lifelong learning is important for expanding our levels of awareness.
✔︎ What we all should know about dreaming and the brain.
✔︎ Review of our sleep cycle and REM sleep.
✔︎ Tips for remembering our dreams.
✔︎ Opening our mind up for new ways to improve creativity, business ideas, and sports training with our dream world.
For returning guests, welcome back, and for those who are new here, I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator, with a passion for learning, understanding difficult concepts, and breaking them down so that we can all use and apply the most current research to improve our productivity and results in our schools, sports environments, and modern workplaces. On today’s EPISODE #211, “The Neuroscience of Dreams: Expanding Our Self-Awareness” I’m going to cover how an understanding of neuroscience connected to our dreams, could open up doors of possibility in our lives. This topic is not one that I was planning on covering, but as my awareness expanded while researching for an upcoming interview, I thought back to when some other topics that many people perceived as “weird”, are now readily accepted in our schools and workplaces, and perhaps, as new research and studies evolve, this topic could provide us with a new way of creative problem solving, or ways to generate new ideas in the business world, or even a new tool for mental rehearsal in the sports world.
Before we get into this episode, I do want to start out by thanking you, the listener for tuning in. While writing this episode, I woke up to an email from Anuj Agarwal, the founder of Feedspot, who ranks podcasts based on content, followers, and traffic, letting me know that we had made ranking for The Best 30 Neuroscience Podcasts.[i] For those who have listened to our earlier episodes, you’ll know that I didn’t set out to go in this direction of Neuroscience, (it wasn’t even on my roadmap) but we ended up here by chance, when an educator urged me to go in this direction almost 10 years ago. So to hit this achievement, in a relatively new field of study for me, without a background in science (other than the fact I did teach 9th grade Biology for a semester), it’s a true honor, and I’m beyond grateful to continue to host this podcast, and that you are finding these episodes as helpful as I am. This is the reason why I thought about launching this podcast in the first place—to show that anyone can learn and apply these skills, backed by science, whether you have a science degree or not. This cutting-edge research is important for all of us to know, understand and apply and I’ll be researching in this field anyway, so I figured, I might as well share what I’m learning on this platform. With our analytics, I can see where listeners are tuning in from by Country, and do appreciate all the messages you send to me on social media, letting me know that you listen and what you are learning. I can now put some faces to the downloads, as I got to recently meet Sarah Eaton, from Queensland, Australia, who works with the Australian Government, and Ellie Mercado from Ossining, NY working in the field of education with social and emotional learning among many others who tag me on posts, and let me know this information is helpful and important. We do have a Facebook Group[ii], if you do want to stay connected to others around the globe as well.
Moving on now to this week’s episode, and Brain Fact Friday, where I want to make a connection to an upcoming interview later next week, but in the meantime, I hope this episode will help us to expand our level of awareness when it comes to our dreams. My mentor, the late Bob Proctor (who I know I talk about often) was always saying “Stop looking at life through the keyhole. Open up the door and expand your level of awareness”[iii] by changing your paradigms. You can go back to episode 66 and 67[iv] to review the importance of changing our paradigms to break through to new levels of awareness, that will help us to reach new heights in our personal and professional lives, which is what happened to me while preparing for an upcoming interview. I noticed that some of my paradigms, or beliefs started to change, as I began to connect the science to what I was learning, expanding my awareness in a way that it will never be the same again.
As you can see from past episodes, it is very important to me to stick to the most current neuroscience research with this podcast, and I do aim to steer clear of pseduoscience, and fads, but pick topics to help make a difference for us in our modern workplaces, whether it’s through the science of reading, or productivity, and this time, my paradigm or beliefs were challenged. Which is what learning is all about.
I was introduced to Dr. Baland Jalal’s work from his team, who emailed me his Harvard Bio[v], letting me know his field of research and the topics we could cover on the podcast. I wrote back immediately, as I saw Harvard, neuroscience, researcher connected to sleep, and Dr. Rama 2011, TIME Magazine 100 most influential people in the world. (I’ve heard Dr. Jalal use the short form of his name, so I’ll take the easier way out here as I don’t think I’ll get it right even with some practice).
Even though I read the email intro quickly, I knew Dr. Jaland was someone I wanted to learn more about, especially as we covered the importance of sleep on many previous episodes, and dreams on EPISODE #104[vi] with Sleep Scientist Antonio Zadra and his book When Your Brain Dreams: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep, but I had no idea that Dr. Jalal’s work was going to open up my level of awareness to where it had never been before, allowing me to cover some topics that I normally would think of as “too weird” for this podcast, and in turn, change some of my beliefs around sleep.
Dr. Jalal says that “dreams are one of the great mysteries of science. In their bizarre complexity they can reveal deeper truths about who you are at the most basic level. Keep on dreaming.”
So now my mind is opening up and I wonder:
Why do we dream what we dream?
What’s happening in our brain when we are dreaming?
What’s the purpose of dreaming: are there things we could learn from our dreams?
Mathew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams covers these questions on his podcast[vii] and he has said “perhaps it was not time that heals all wounds, but rather time spent in dream sleep” which is REM sleep, and this made me think:
What else could I learn about dreams, to open up new levels of awareness, new insights maybe that could help increase peace and understanding in my world that I could share with you to do the same?
What could we learn from Dr. Jalal’s work on sleep paralysis as the "top-rated expert in sleep paralysis in the world?"
And what is sleep paralysis?
Could learning more about our dreams expand our thinking, like Proctor would say, helping us to see the world in a different way, instead of just peering through the keyhole, with a limited view? After all, it was Proctor who taught me to log my dreams (he taught me to write them down the minute I would wake up) and I’ve been doing this since 1999, (off and on), and although I thought I knew what dreams were all about, when I began researching Dr. Jalal’s work, I realized just how little I really knew about dreams.
What about you? I know we all know how important our sleep is, but for something we spend 1/3 of our life doing, (sleeping) Baland-how much thought do you put into your dreams? Other than writing down my dreams, and glancing at them from time to time to learn common themes, lessons, or ideas, this is an area that I think I could explore more with.
Is there something I’m missing with this time? Could I learn something about my dreams, or use this “dream-time” to my advantage in a way that I could improve the other 2/3 of my life?
Mathew Walker, calls sleep “our superpower”[viii] and reminds us how important sleep is for learning, memory and productivity, and that “when we wake up, we are (actually) wiser” and that “it’s not time that heals all wounds, but time spent in dreams that provides emotional convalescence.” (Matt Walker, Podcast 3 on DREAMS).
What’s your experience with dreams?
Are you too busy to even think about them?
If you do—do you remember them?
Do you know why we forget them?
Have you ever had this weird feeling that you were paralyzed and couldn’t move while sleeping?
Have you ever had visions of places you’ve never been while dreaming and wondered what they are? Are they real, or imagined?
The Stages of Sleep and REM Sleep:
We will dive deep into these questions on our interview with Dr. Baland Jalal, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you something to think about to expand our awareness and get us thinking about dreams until then to prime our brain for what we will learn, and this begins with a quick review of what our sleep cycles look like. I never really thought about improving my sleep cycle until I reviewed the Fisher Wallace medical device on EPISODE 120[ix] but did you know that we have sleep cycles (about 5 of them that last about 90 minutes if we are sleeping 8 hours). Stage 4, our REM sleep or where our dreams occur happens at the end of each sleep cycle and is the longest in the last sleep cycle right before we wake up. We are dreaming all night, but “95% of our dreams we don’t remember when we wake up” (Dr. Jalal) because “we need serotonin to transfer them to our long-term memory”[x]
Did you know:
When we are in REM sleep (and dreaming) that our body is paralyzed?
What part of the brain controls this paralysis and
Why it’s important that we don’t move in REM sleep?
Until researching Dr. Jalal, I didn’t know that we were paralyzed in REM sleep, but I also have FELT sleep paralysis before. I just didn’t know there was a name for it. Then I heard Dr. Jalal’s explanation of sleep paralysis[xi], (and he described it exactly as I experienced it) and I would have to say this is not something I would ever admit I’ve felt. You know, it’s one of those things you’d rather leave out when someone says “hey, how did you sleep” and you’ve had an experience like this, I’d personally rather skip this conversation and just say “oh it was great” with that look on my face that will tell you there was nothing great about it. It’s got to be one of the weirdest experiences, but Dr. Jalal explains what is happening, the importance of our brain paralyzing our body during sleep, and connecting our brain to this “weird” phenomenon that expanded my awareness to what else I could learn about dreaming and REM state.
I also thought, if I had this experience, and so did Dr. Jalal, and then the guy interviewing him on the podcast I was watching, Ranveer,[xii] also had the same experience, how many other people listening could relate, and learn something new with this new angle of the neuroscience of sleep.
To make the most out of our upcoming interview with Dr. Jalal, I encourage you to learn more about your sleep to expand your level of awareness.
Do you know how much sleep you get?
Do you know how much time you spend in REM sleep each night?
Do you remember your dreams?
To remember your dreams so that you can gain deeper levels of insight about yourself, here are some suggestions:
Make an intention that you will remember what you were dreaming about when you wake up. This might take some time, but with focused effort, see what happens.
Wake up, and write down your dream immediately, or you will forget. Either write them down on a notepad beside your bed, or on your phone.
Start looking for patterns in your dreams.
Before our interview with Dr. Jalal, later next week, we will dive deeper into lucid dreaming, or “knowing you are dreaming while you are dreaming”[xiii] to see what fMRI scans reveal about our ability to control our dreams, interact with people in our dreams, and even travel to a different location within our dreams. All of this is fascinating, as science now steps in to validate some of the practices that many of us have heard of over the years, and brings light to what exactly is happening when we wake up, and wonder “what on the earth just happened?!”
My goal with these episodes are to take what I would have once thought of as the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had while sleeping, and demystify them with brain science. Of course, I’m going to ask Dr. Jalal to share his insights and research with us, so we can learn what might be of importance to think about with our dream time, and how this new awareness could be of benefit to us in the future. I’m hoping that he can shed some light on what we can learn from our dreams that we can take into the 2/3 of our waking hours, that could improve our creativity, performance and results.
To close out this episode and review this week’s Brain Fact Friday:
DID YOU KNOW: “that dreams can reveal deeper truths about who you are at the most basic level?” (Dr. Baland Jalal).
I hope this episode expanded your awareness like it did mine about the possibilities that our dreams could provide for us in the future.
See you next week as we dive into our brain, stress and the workplace, and our upcoming interview with Dr. Jalal to open up our awareness in ways that science will show us that there are many benefits to keep on dreaming!