01.30.17 | Sleep, Insomnia, and Dreaming

Our next Member Monday discussion centers around a topic that the more fortunate among us manage to do over one-quarter of their lives. The "others," not so much. The first portion of our discussion will be dedicated to them i.e. the ones who can't count on six hours of uninterrupted sleep. The topic: Sleep, Insomnia, and Dreaming. The remainder of the session, somewhat more whimsical, will then embrace everyone as we flirt with the subconscious.   

We'll start things off with a nod to the poets and their various sleep-related idiosyncrasies, featured in the focus article Staring Into The Soundless Dark” (click to open link, then click again). Poets are particularly qualified to speak on the subject of insomnia. First, they are over-represented in the sleep deprivation department. Second, poetry itself has been characterized as a form of sleep.

How's this for practical tips: Byron: eat whole egg yolk; Wordsworth: be read to; Coleridge: prayer plus opium; Bronte: walk around dining room table; etc.). The poets also had lots to say about root cause. Poe weighs in by maintaining it actually comes from a deep-down fear of sleep. Others expand on the point and suggest it stems from the terror of self-loss and abandonment of control. But nothing tops the Victorian writer Walter Pater who, during his hours of insomnia, brooded about the prospect that humans were no more than a confluence of particles.

What, then, may we (assuming we're not brooding over that confluence of particles matter) offer each other in terms of helpful hints to achieve the bliss of an uninterrupted nighttime sleep? Supplementing that is last week's NYT article "Getting Older, Sleeping Less (https://nyti.ms/2jQg5GK). 

We’ll then move to that symphony of imagination called dreaming. This invites an open, free-wheeling session about dream patterns. The trajectory of the discussion depends upon the openness and curiosity of the attendees. Please note that Freud is not invited to the party and nothing is recorded. 

May we get beyond the garden variety was-going-to-take-the-final-exam-but-didn't-study-and-forgot-where-to-go dream and reveal some of our more absurd, non-linear experiences. Chances are that yours will not be the most unrooted and bizarre. 

You'll walk away from this session with some new insights both about you and about others.

Steve SmithComment