UNITED STATES—Last week’s column we talked about sleep in general and addressed a lot of issues that people face in general when it comes to attempting to get quality sleep. This week I wanted to address a few more things in specific: light and dreams. For me light is a massive killer and I’m not just referring to light from the TV or an electric device, I’m referring to direct sunlight and light from outside. Yes, the moment that light pierces thru your window or blinds that is it people, you’re going to have your circadian rhythm clock kick in.

I really don’t want to travel down the circadian rhythm dialogue, but in simple terms, it is what dictates your body’s way of alerting you it’s time to get up or go to sleep. With that said, the moment that the darkness switches over to the sunlight and it pierces through the bedroom it is a done deal for me. My body starts to wake up, even if I don’t want it to wake up and I cannot go back to sleep.

People have mentioned those blackout curtains, which I never considered, but I am thinking about considering them because it truly can be the difference between getting quality sleep. It is especially difficult for people like myself who at times work the night shift. So that means, when I should be sleeping I’m up, so when I do get home its super bright outside, meaning the darker the bedroom the better it is for the body to adjust to falling asleep and staying asleep. If you can limit the light entering the room you increase your opportunity to stay asleep if you’re in a deep sleep, but the moment that light enters, if you’re one that immediately gets up when that light pierces thru those closed eyelids; it is a done deal.

Now, I want to talk about something that bothers me quite a bit it is dreaming. I am someone who heavily studied dreams while an undergraduate student studying psychology. I have always been fascinated by them and how they impact a person’s sleep and what those dreams we have say about our life. I personally separate a dream and a nightmare. Some people might group them as being the same, I do not and that’s for another column to be honest.

With that said, my dreams are odd. I have these dreams that are sort of light premonitions or déjà vu. Stick with me. I can dream about something and days, weeks or months later that exact same thing I dreamt about will actually happen in real time and I will have a trigger that shakes me. I know it has happened and I’m recollecting and piece together when it transpired. Don’t ask me to explain it or give you a detailed layout of it, because I cannot. I don’t know if it’s a gift, a curse or a blessing. I just know it is something that fascinates me when I sleep. Can I see the future? Possibly.

The thing I really want to discuss is nightmares. I prefer not to dream at all when I sleep. Why? Whenever I dream, it is either really good (which is rare) or really bad (more common). If I have a bad dream it immediately triggers me at some point to wake up and then I am up the rest of the night. The thought of trying to get back to sleep is difficult because I am shaken by the dream that I just had and then I’m trying to make sense of what just unfolded. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but if you have a bad dream you don’t just shake it off and got back to sleep. You start asking questions: 1) Why did I dream that? 2) What triggered that dream? 3) Is that a sign of things to come?

I have always been fascinated by dreams as it pertains to our sleep. We are supposedly in control of our dreams, but just thinking about something for a mere 20 seconds in a given day can trigger a particular dream or nightmare that same night or the next time you close your eyes. You have to shift your focus on the positive if at all possible. Think about what you want and focus on that when you close your eyes. If money is at the top of the list, be careful, those are the worst dreams because they feel so real and then when you wake up you realize it was all a dream.

I know it is NOT easy to just close your eyes and know you’re going to get quality sleep. Some days will be better than others. However, when it comes to sleep try not to stress, the more you stress the worst your sleep will likely be.