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Cymbalta (Duloxetine)

It used to be thought that the part of sleep essential to us was REM sleep, associated with dreaming; it was believed that these stages were needed for brain rest, and that people deprived of them would develop psychosis. This last has been disproved, though deprivation of REM sleep does produce irritability and difficulties in concentration, and affects the ability to retain information learned the day before. People totally deprived of it for more than three days have started having waking dreams, in the form of hallucinations. Others have been found to become less inhibited and conscientious!
In laboratories, REM sleep is measured by placing additional electrodes around the eyes to detect the eye movements, and over muscles in the chin or neck, which relax during sleep. During this time cells in the brain’s cortex, the grey matter, are also electrically very active. REM sleep has also been called ‘paradoxical sleep’, because although the brain is active, the body experiences a kind of paralysis and can’t move voluntarily; some people notice this when trying to awaken from a nightmare — it can be quite frightening.
Nearly all mammals dream; there are a few exceptions, like dolphins, who sleep with only one half of their brain at a time, presumably because they need to be aware of where they are in the ocean, and alert to predators. Humans dream about twice as much as most mammals, with a dreaming phase about every 90 minutes, though the amount of dreaming declines with age. New-born and even unborn babies spend an enormous amount of time in REM sleep, but whether they are actually dreaming can’t be known for certain.
The average sleeper spends about an hour and a half a night m REM sleep, sometimes more; it starts about 45 minutes after falling asleep, and increases as the night goes on, with most dreaming taking place in the later part of the night, during ‘optional’ sleep.
Contrary to the belief that dreaming is essential for mental health, it has been found that depressed people, deprived of dreaming sleep by taking anti-depressant drugs for up to and over a year, actually felt better. Dr Home suggests that dreams may not only be disturbing to a depressed person, but that too much dreaming may not be good for us.
However, for most people some REM sleep time does seem necessary, for when sleep laboratory subjects are deprived of these phases, there is a ‘rebound effect’: on recovery nights they lake more REM sleep, making up about 50 per cent of what they have lost.
People have come up with all kinds of contradictory theories as to why we dream. The fathers of psychoanalysis, Freud and Jung, believed that dreams shed light on our hidden desires, and opened the way to the unconscious. Some contemporary research psychologists suggest that we dream to reorder stored information, and to consolidate memories and learning. Some researchers believe that dreams are the result of the brain discarding information, like wiping old computer programmes, and that remembering them is therefore actually bad for us. Dr Home feels that REM sleep must have some importance, possibly as the ‘cinema of the mind’, a way of keeping the brain entertained during lighter stages of sleep.
What seems most likely is that all these theories are true: some dreams are simply junk-clearing; some simply result from indigestion. And some do serve as messengers from the unconscious, making you aware of unresolved problems, or suggesting solutions to them. People have certainly experienced dreams that are emotionally healing, or very creative. Both poetry and scientific ideas have been inspired by dreams — Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have dreamed the story of the best-selling Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And there seems no doubt that a few dreams can be predictive.
If you are interested in dream content, it can be useful to keep a dream diary. As you note down your dreams every night, you may observe certain themes coming up regularly which could shed new light on your problems or your understanding of yourself. If you’re not sure what a dream means, don’t read books that give blanket meanings for dream symbols; by and large your dreams will choose symbols that are personally meaningful to you. Sometimes their meaning becomes clear in the process of writing them down.
As far as insomnia is concerned, dreams or nightmares are important when they are part of the problem, waking you up regularly or in a state of fear. If you have unpleasant recurring dreams, your unconscious mind may be trying to draw your attention to something that needs to be dealt with, perhaps a past traumatic event that you have not come to terms with, or a present problem like a difficult relationship. In such cases, some form of counselling, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy may help you unravel the message.
Meanwhile, states Dr Home: ‘Pleasant though dreams can be, it is possible that too much attention is paid to them and the importance of REM sleep. Evidence is growing that deep, non-dream sleep (Core Sleep) is more vital to well-being.’

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