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To sleep, perchance to dream-

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world 08 Oct 2015

ay, there’s the rub

Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)

Fascinating piece on sleep paralysis in The Conversation:

Understanding sleep paralysis: a terrifying but unique state of consciousness

“There are three categories of hallucinations. Intruder hallucinations consist of a sense of evil presence in the room, which can also manifest into hyper realistic multisensory hallucinations of an actual intruder. Incubus hallucinations often co-occur with intruder hallucinations, and describe a sensation of pressure on the chest and feelings of being suffocated.

‘My Dream My Bad Dream’ by Fritz Schwimbeck in 1915. Fritz Schwimbeck/wikimedia

The third category include so-called vestibular-motor hallucinations, which typically don’t occur with the other two, and consist of “illusory movement experiences” such as floating above the bed…

A team of Japanese researchers were recently able to induce episodes of sleep paralysis by systematically depriving participants of REM sleep… 

Recordings of brain activity during sleep paralysis show it to be a unique state of consciousness. A recent study showed that a participant’s brain activity during sleep paralysis was indistinguishable from a brain recording created by combining a recording from when they were awake, and when they were in REM sleep.” (emphasis added)

The loss of REM sleep has also been shown to increase pain and general sleep dysfunction might play a causative role in chronic, widespread pain conditions.

– Tim Cocks


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  1. You bet Tim !!!! What came first as the proverbial chicken clucks again! Having experienced incubus, chronic pain and sleep disorders it is difficult to find which order to arrange them In……One thing is for certain, in my experience chronic pain sufferers are not good sleepers. And bad sleepers can have the weirdest of dreams. The picture in this post took me vividly back to my experience and has left me “spooked” …….

    1. Hey David
      Hope you’ve slept alright since!?
      I suspect that order becomes less important as we consider chronic pain and sleep disorders both emerging from the human in a co-mingled fashion. As you point out – the potential then for a viscous cycle is high. Perhaps, though it also suggests another avenue to make inroads on either – reducing pain by trying to improve sleep with known sleep hygiene approaches, and improving sleep by reducing pain by seeking SIMs during the day and night (some of the best SIMs come out at night 😉)!

      1. Yes Tim, as Geoff always said “Find something to hang your hat on and get started”

  2. This kind of information is what has caused me some annoyance at Mick Thacker’s call to move beyond the brain and back to us as an organism
    I think this is far too premature.Whilst accepting we are an organism I feel we are only just getting the message out that the brain/nervous system plays a central role in our pain experience.This shift needs to become embedded further before we start to bring things back to the whole where obviously it belongs.But not before the public understand the biomedical approach is flawed.
    Plus I love all this stuff!.

    1. Hey Graham
      I don’t want to talk for Mick, but *my* take on his recent publications (although he has been speaking out about this for years) is that we need to be mindful of having thinking swing too far towards ‘brain’ – incorporate it, try to understand it by all means, but not elevate it to the only thing. Personally I’m with him on this and i think we can achieve a better outcome by having the ‘brain message’ as part of a bigger ‘person message’.
      Thanks, as always for sharing your thoughts – i like to think that it is discussions here and elsewhere, discussions that have a level of tension and push and pull to them, that will help us find the best way forward.
      My best

  3. Tim, I wrote of this post and included my own thoughts about dreaming on my own blog today on Anything that begins with a quote from Shakespeare is going to have a leg up. Well done.

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