February 28, 2013
Q: I wake up a lot of times from dreams, usually around 2 or 3 in the
morning. However, some of my most creative solutions to problems
happen in the wee hours after waking, and there is better mental
clarity. If I didn’t have to keep regular work hours and could nap
during the day, this sleep issue would not be a problem. Have you
heard of this?
Dr. Smith: You may be awaking after you have entered your first REM
stage of sleep, where paralysis sets in, and you are unable to breathe
easily if there are obstructions, such as your tongue. When people
awake during REM, or “dream sleep”, they are more likely to remember
their dreams. Regardless, if this is happening, you should have a
sleep study performed.
You might appreciate a book called “At Day’s Close: Night in Times
Past“, but the meat from the book you would need involves the fact
that centuries ago, we all had a “first sleep” and a “second sleep”,
where we awoke after about 4 hours of sleep and then wrote about
dreams, cleaned house, etc.., then after an hour or two, went back to
sleep. This was routine until we had oil lamps, then street lights,
and the nights became shorter. However, many of us still have this DNA
embedded, and are prone to waking up halfway through the night. They
are now called biphasic sleepers, and they have support groups,
believe it or not. Do some Googling and you may find some buddies.