Sleep disturbances and Consciousness
By Tom Brown
Tue, 14 Oct 2014
There are two essays on the subject, the approach is to be objective sober and rational, it is on more serious problems with sleep many of which I have personally suffered from, I speak of experience. Fortunately though I have had none of these very upsetting dreams for many years but I do recall them clearly.
This essay is a discussion on sleep disturbances and disorders in themselves and not about the actual content and stories of and inside dreams, while the other one is more descriptive and explains and tells of how dreams are literally actually experienced. The other essay is probably more controversial this one is relatively neutral. I won’t attempt to give explanations just facts.
Persons belonging to a religious sect, and others of strong fundamentalist convictions suffering of poor judgement as well as those of limited faculties are discouraged and asked not to read this story. The fanatical invariable read things totally out of context and such a person hardly ever does go to the trouble or even has the capacity of actually reading anything with understanding. They have a way of twisting and manipulating your words and the truth itself as it suits them.
These people appear in general to have no ability for critical reasoning and are essentially impossible to be convinced of anything else than what they believe irrespective of how glaringly obvious. It is meant for an open minded intelligent audience and I will refrain from any discussion of the supernatural.
Religion and Superstition
It must be understood that I have no knowledge of and I’ve had absolutely no experience nor have had any kind of involvement in the occult. My religious convictions are more conservative Protestant Christian, and founded on the Bible. My academic training and interests has been in science and mathematics and although I am not ignorant I am really not well read, as a result my broader general knowledge isn’t really that rich. However in my personal opinion I have very rich and diverse life experience, as well as a solid foundation in the natural sciences and logical thought, and skilled and trained thoroughly in fundamentals of mathematics.
Without speculating on reasons or interpretations the idea here is simply to state fact. Most of these problems are actually quite common. I do not know anything about psychology, and even less about other mainstream religions. I have no knowledge and had absolutely no involvement nor participation in any occult nor in Theosophy. The little knowledge I do have is based on personal informal conversation.
The actual dreams are sometimes unpleasant and can be very disturbing. The main contributory thing seems to be fear. In me the disturbances have all abated and it is largely due to abstinence. It appears a person usually outgrows most of them, sometimes fast, sometimes gradually.
I will completely refrain from speculation and theorising on concepts such as mind and soul, spirit, body, flesh and the real nature of so-called “near-death” and specifically the notion that the spirit can actually literally leave the physical body, my belief here is that it is not true and as well as very misleading.
In my mind it is not impossible the experiences have to do with a manifestation of a spiritual realm or perhaps an altogether distinct kind of “reality” such as supposed other dimensions or parallel universes, but certainly does not belong in a strictly religious framework.
Organic and physiological problems
Insomnia is probably the most common complaint and usually due to modern lifestyle, worries, stress, diet, not enough exercise not enough rest and unhealthy lifestyle in general.
Narcolepsy is not the same kind of thing as sleep paralysis. A medical doctor explained to me that alcohol abuse almost always accompanies the kind of problems spoken of here whereas narcolepsy is chronic and always progressive it is of different nature altogether and it is relatively scarce. There are persons who just “nod off” and suddenly fall sleep without warning anywhere and in any circumstances, at the dinner table, walking in the garden, driving a car sitting in a lecture. It can also occur in some animals.
As far as I know I personally have never suffered from hallucinations, no voices, not visual nor tactile nor smell or taste. Apart from the obvious, illusions yes, as well as delusions. This all of course limited to how I understand the terms. Also I am convinced that the experiences described have nothing to do with the “supernatural” however I don’t think at all it is just meaningless “nonsense” but falls more in the domain of clinical psychology.
Anxiety can also be a problem both in falling asleep, and waking very early in the morning startled, with a terrific fright. Anxiety can result in exhaustion up to the point of losing conciousness. Shut down. Anywhere. Anaesthetic and intoxication can cause the same unhealthy thing. Falling asleep and losing consciousness are not the same.
As I understand sleep apnea is where a person stops breathing the moment he goes to sleep or during sleep and has to awake again with a fright for breath. In itself it is a very serious and debilitating condition. I have known people suffering of this and I think the cause has to do with concrete physical organic or physiological problems. It is of a purely medical nature not to do with the actual mind.
Chronic alcoholism, cannabis abuse and psychiatric medicines as well as many tranquillisers and mood altering substances contribute to changed and distorted perception and unusual and inappropriate emotions and obviously can have a very direct effect on healthy sleeping.
Astral body travel
There is a kind of disturbance where one in some way regains consciousness in sleep whereas the physical body still sleeps. This would very often result in a “night terror” where the person cannot move at all and a terrifically strong dark force is felt holding him down on his bed. More progressed is “astral body travel” which is a kind of vivid graphic “out of body experience” usually including sensations magic, of flying and floating. There are sensations too such as earth tremors and being in Hell really in general it is a terrible thing. The dreams are incredibly realistic and a person has absolutely no conscious control of what happens.
One thing I find very puzzling is how similar very different people's experiences are. People of vastly different background and from all cultures and walks of life and even going far back in history. This very unusual thing is that the stories most such people tell are very similar or the same, irrespective. This is the one thing that makes me wonder if there is not some basis for spiritual and religious beliefs as explanation.
The descriptions are so consistent that it has to point to some common perception of a spiritual world. I did not know about the existence of these things at all until first-hand. Speaking to people I’ve known about astral body travel and dreams of this nature, and there are many, this phenomenon is much more common than what one would think.
Somehow all of the stories seemed to be in some agreement and yet I and many others had not known of any of this beforehand, or even the very existence of such dreams in the first place. So that the experiences are completely independent and this would in fact be straightforward to verify. For instance the sensation of leaving the body, distinct experience of flying and transportation, things such as the earth tremors and existence and details of the Inferno itself in agreement even with Dante.
A new thing in accordance with modern times are stories such as of abduction by aliens, being violated and forced to do sexual deeds and being scientifically experimented on in UFOs. Indeed there are some too that could well originate from the popular “superhero” comics and more recently the films.
Near death experience
This is a type of event during which in supposed clinical death the spirit is believed to leave the material, the apparently dead person’s body, and enters the afterlife. When this human body is subsequently in some way revived and returned to life the individual’s spirit returns, and he becomes alive again to tell the tale. I believe there have been very many such stories documented and in recorded history.
They are of all the variety one could have hoped for. They range from the more ordinary mundane and physical for example hovering over the doctors’ heads and bright light looking at your own body during open heart surgery. And of course arriving at heaven’s gates and being sent back by St Peter for some great purpose or mission. Or arriving, being sent back from hell for a second chance or even simply because there was a mistake.
Witnesses also tell even of the second coming itself, in all its splendour and glory with legions of angels and a brilliance far surpassing the sun, the grand symphony of a gigantic divine orchestra and hosts heavenly choirs.
The individual and very common stories told appears to be originated mainly from early Christian and other more secular beliefs. There then obviously are common denominators in Judaism as well as other monotheistic religions. Much of this would have to be contained in some very wide group unconscious in turn culminating in the appearance of Heaven and angels and demons evil spirits and clear notions of Hades somehow integrated the individual’s mind.
Out of body experiences
Superstition magic the occult and many primitive beliefs are strongly represented and goes as far back as barbarian and savage pre-historic rites and traditions. It could well be some stories have parallels originating in ancient Greek and Roman mythology.
There are of course other common explanations for the similarity of stories going as far as to say that the reason is simply that it is so, all this is in fact actually simply reality. This is in fact a radical point of view. Other of course than it being really attractive and really too fantastical and weird and wonderful not to believe, as most teenagers probably eagerly would.
I don’t believe it is any kind of reality there are obvious inconsistencies and some very basic contradictions, which one would be able to confirm merely by reason and considering the content. It is also quite plausible to perform a scientific inquiry including actual controlled experiments and I am sure many such research investigations have already been done.
This sounds to be the most rational explanation. A common, human group unconscious.
From informal conversations with academics in Classical studies and in Divinity it should be noted though that people of very different religions culture and traditions apparently can indeed have altogether different kinds of near-death experiences, and related directly to their own religion and beliefs.
These things are not good things they are not things to be desired. It is very foolish to try and induce them, for a start such experiments are almost invariably very unpleasant and also from a religious point of view they cannot be considered as good. Attempts are hazardous and as far as being very dangerous.
In turn the practising of deliverance and exorcism usually complicates matters considerably and only makes things worse it is not in the least conducive to good heath. Although it might have the appearance there is in reality no involvement with things like angels aliens demons terrible sins or the devil.
The phenomenon is not in any way more of demonic nature than epilepsy or any mental illness. From sufficient knowledge and experience exorcism is not at all of any help and rather confuses a person, and makes things a lot worse. Very common interpretations like these definitely are hardly at all Biblical, they are not based on nor supported by scripture.
As for the content descriptions and experiences– there is no sound logical basis in reality apart from speculating on things like SciFi for example parallel universes other dimensions etc. Certainly actions and events in the stories are of no consequence or effect in this our own “reality”. For instance, a simple argument would be that there is no consistent history, and there has not ever been demonstrated any kind of observed interaction and there is no physical cause and effect interaction.
There are related things for instance acute alcohol poisoning and withdrawals to the extreme of DTs (delirium tremens) which is really not very common. If a person has DTs he hallucinates freely and this the most horrible and bizarre things you can possibly think and accompanied by severe physical bodily sickness. A person can live in this great terror for days on end. The idea reminds me of what I’ve heard of free-flowing fear. DTs is quite a hell but fortunately temporary and transitory.
Another is a form of acute poisoning called an alcoholic fit, which outwardly appears much like an epileptic fit but is less common. Such a fit can last for hours and very often apparently concerns and is experienced as related to religion and specifically the supernatural. It looks very similar to an epileptic fit but it lasts much longer. One can understand the primitive beliefs that such behaviour and convulsions are from demonic possession it certainly has that appearance.
When thinking on the so-called near death experiences and regaining of consciousness in sleep and out of body “hallucinations” you would think it might possibly at least partly be due simply to temporary oxygen deficiency in the brain.
Of a practical nature
Alcohol abuse definitely plays a role and psychiatric medicine too, as well as things like personal struggles, domestic troubles, unhappy households and others going with a modern lifestyle, such as lack of exercise and insufficient rest, and also many of the things teenagers in particular have problems with. It could sometimes be be a warning sign that all is not well.
There would definitely exist a body of scientific research on these matters however I personally haven’t seen or read any.
In order to avoid and to cope with sleep disturbances a balanced lifestyle is recommended: A very regular disciplined sleep pattern, abstaining completely from alcohol and any kind of substance abuse, including over the counter and wrongly prescribed medicines. One should be careful and beware of unnecessary medical intervention too, and rather strive for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy spiritual life.