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Recent Sleep Notes: Bedtime & Junk Dreams

Monday June 15, 2020

Some sleep-related things I’ve noticed lately:

Bedtime and Sleep Length

IS there a difference between these two?

  1. 9 hours of sleep starting at 10:30 p.m.
  2. 9 hours of sleep starting at 12 a.m.

After getting weird results from the late-bedtime option, I’ve been measuring this recently. So far my results seem to indicate that the first option is a LOT better in terms of outcome:

  • Generally more comfortable sleep
  • Fewer stress-related dreams
  • Fewer wake-ups from such dreams
  • Better waking mood

This made me think about potential contributors to sleep quality:

Do you need some amount of rest going into a good night’s sleep?

In other words, is sleep quality made worse by a lack of rest prior to sleep?

Maybe this is obvious but to me it’s like a revelation: No matter how much sleep you are about to get, maybe you could even get less sleep and feel good if you had gone to bed earlier, because you went to sleep in a more rested state.

Just a theory.

So: Huh. OK, and the other thing I’ve noticed:

Junk Dream-response During Low-quality Sleep

When I’m getting low-quality sleep, my tired, less-conscious self seems to be attempting to deal with dream messaging in an impaired state.

Of course, it cannot do this as well as rested, more-conscious self can.

Less-conscious self also doesn’t seem to realize that the dream contents may be complete junk. In other words, supremely exaggerated fears that are a poor reflection of a waking-life context.

Essentially this is wasted effort, wasted time. And conscious-self knows this. I wake up sweating, but I’m sweating and going, “I can address this problem 10x better after a good night’s sleep. But even so, the problem is based on really poor perceptions.”

But what can be done? I used to think I needed to wake up and deal with the problem directly.

Previous Solution:

  • My stressors must be addressed. I’d better journal about this dream in my phone and then I’ll feel better, then I’ll surf the web a bit, and otherwise wait here until I fall asleep again.

Now I’m thinking it’s more of a temporary comfort and mental/physical self-care issue. I try to be gentle on myself through the next 90-120 minutes so that I can get back to sleep and continue resting.

Current Solution:

  • Stressors must be addressed, but my stress response is impaired due to poor body state. I’d better get more comfortable, take some recreation time, and relax, touch on stressors if I sense the need, and prepare for relaxed sleep again.

So I’ll get up, drink some water, maybe have a cookie, brush my teeth, do some gentle journaling, listen to an entertaining but boring podcast (live roleplaying sessions kinda fall into this category), review my schedule, and then when I’m feeling tired, at that point I head back to bed for another two sleep cycles or so. Lately I’m also taking melatonin at this point, to see if it helps.

It’s funny to write “take some recreation time” as it implies something more restful than sleep. But this attitude seems to help quite a bit. This is because the most recent “sleep” cycle was not as restful as one would expect from good sleep, and resulted in junk information and junk perceptions, so I’m attempting to reset my sleep conditions by taking a more rested, relaxed mindset into the next sleep cycle.

(Here is where I wonder if the word “sleep” is causing problems, by being the only/main word we use to talk about this state)

It’s nice to know about this, because I think there’s a certain amount of helplessness from the “address dreams when they stress you out” idea. Some of those dreams seem to be informed by a more-exaggerated-than-usual, helpless-perceptive state, which means that the dream contents are effectively waste information. Conscious-self is probably very capable of attacking the issues should they arise in waking life (that the issues might arise may even be doubtful), and addressing the dream content before such an event may be a complete waste of time.

I’m glad to be on the other side of this most recent experiment. Previously, I found that wakened, poorly-rested me previously had a very difficult time understanding the difference between “tired perceptions” and “more reliable rested perceptions.” The former tend to push me into the unhealthy INTJ box. Everything was super serious and super bad, and drastic things needed to be done. The latter will reliably allow me to transcend that box: Things are less serious, getting better overall, and maybe as a result, don’t need attention right away.

I think I know which one of these sets of perceptions I’d rather take into the rest of my life! Geez.

I’m looking forward to playing with these new ideas a bit, and seeing what I can learn about sleep quality and subjective experience in the future.

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