Repairing Jacob's Ladder: Healing our REM Sleep and Dreams Rubin Naiman (Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, Tumacacori, AZ ) C21
This presentation uses the archetypal story of Jacob's Ladder to address dream loss, one of the most critical overlooked issues in consciousness studies and healing. Mounting evidence suggests that much of what is considered sleep loss is actually a loss of REM sleep or dreaming. We are, in fact, at least as dream deprived as we are sleep deprived. The epidemic of REM/dream loss is, however, shrouded by several factors including sleep medicine's subsumption of REM/dreaming under the general rubric of sleep, the widespread devaluation of the phenomenology of dreaming, and growing disinterest in dreaming as a therapeutic tool by psychotherapists over recent decades. This presentation discusses the authors' review research about the causes and extent of REM/dream deprivation in the U.S. The major factors contributing to dream loss include commonly used psychotropic and anticholinergic medications, endemic reliance on alcohol and cannabis, chronic sleep maintenance insomnia and sleep apnea, and disrupted natural rhythms. Because REM/dreaming mediates memory consolidation, the down regulation of negative emotion, creativity, and the expansion of consciousness, its loss has been linked to memory deficits, mood disorders, and an erosion of the breadth of consciousness.The presentation will conclude with a discussion of "dream hygiene" -- strategies for restoring healthy REM/dreaming. Recommendations will focus on both individual and well as clinical and public dream health practices.