In this Episode
- [02:36]Dr. Michael Breus shares how he was inspired to write his latest book, Energize!
- [06:52]Dr. Michael explains how to make banana tea and its benefits.
- [10:15]How long should an individual fast? How can your body type and chronotype influence your dietary needs and sleep?
- [17:32]Dr. Michael explains what lucid dreaming is.
- [25:19]The science behind sleep paralysis.
- [32:21]Stephan shares some of his multiple psychic mentors, and an experience where he did automatic writing.
- [38:26]How to remember your dreams?
- [44:39]What happens without emotional juice in your dream?
- [48:23]Dr. Michael emphasizes the science of sleep and stress.
Michael, it’s so great to have you back.
It’s always great to be here. I’m so excited.
I love talking with you, and you’re an amazing person. You care a lot for people. It’s nice to be in your company. Let’s talk about your newest book Energize! What inspired you to write that? Give us the origin story and the purpose of that.
You bet. First of all, thanks for always having me on the show. I enjoy you, your company, and your audience. What a great group of people to just learn more about optimization. My fourth book is called Energize! I have a co-author, Stacey Griffith. Stacey is one of the founding trainers for a company called SoulCycle, an indoor bicycle company that is all around the country.
People reporting low energy are not moving a lot. A sedentary lifestyle lowers the perceived energy level of people.
I brought her on as a movement specialist because we find people reporting low energy because they are not moving a lot. Stacey and I have been friends for a long time. She was helping me with my movement, and I was helping her with her sleep.
She turned to me one day, saying, “My clients, all they ever tell me is they are freaking exhausted.” I said, “My clients say the same thing.” I told her, “Do your clients sleep well?” She said to me, “Do your clients move well?” We both looked at each other and were like, “I think we’re missing something here.”
What if we created a sleep and movement program to help people feel more energetic during the day? We started to look at the data, and there was a lot of data to suggest that, number one, a sedentary lifestyle lowers the perceived energy level of people.
People don’t feel like they move when they sit a lot. They’re not motivated to do a whole lot when they are sitting all day long. When we get them up and moving, “This is not an exercise program. This is a movement program.”
My mobility has changed quite a bit, and that’s super important as we get older as my strength and the different types of exercises I needed to do. Stacey has taught me a tremendous amount about how much cardio I need as a 55-year-old male.
You must eat, sleep, and move to feel a level of energy.
I was doing 90 minutes of cardio, which was not the greatest idea in the universe. Moderation is important, but mobility is as important as movement itself. We also added intermittent fasting as the third component because you must eat, sleep, and move in order for it to feel a level of energy. Fuel was something we wanted to look at.
There are a lot of diet books out there. Stacey and I are not a nutritionist, so we decided to look at intermittent fasting. This has been around for a while, and some tremendous research looks at intermittent fasting.
One of the big things that many people report when they do intermittent fasting is they gain energy. They feel more energetic throughout the day. Food isn’t necessarily slowing them down. The book is developed into three separate components. There’s intermittent fasting, sleep, and movement.
Stacey discovered that body type plays a big role in making it all come together. When talking to Stacey, I asked what kind of movement my clients should do because I’m not a movement expert. She said, “Well, tell me more about your clients.”
I said, “This person is a 47-year-old Caucasian.” She’s like, “What’s their height and weight? What’s their distribution of fat? Are they pear-shaped? Are they long and lean?”
I asked, “Are you talking about those body types that we learned in high school a million years ago, called endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph?” We discovered in the research that you can learn when to intermittent fast based on your chronotype, your internal biological mechanism for when to go to sleep, and you can learn when to fast and how long to fast based on your body type. Then your body type tells you which mobility exercises will be best for you.
By understanding two metrics, chronotype and body type, we nail it, and we can give people a personalized methodology for maintaining energy; we want them to sleep without caffeine.
One of the tips in the book is banana tea. Do you want to talk about that? Is that a game-changer?
Absolutely. It’s one of my favorite recipes. This is an easy way to increase magnesium levels in your system. One of the things that people always say to me is, “Michael, what do I need to do? Is there an herb? Is there a supplement that I can do to optimize my sleep?”
The very first thing I like to do is take the unique approach where I say do me a favor, “Get some blood work done with your physician, and let’s see if you are deficient in anything before we start adding and limiting other things that your body doesn’t necessarily need. Let’s ensure that the vitamins and minerals your body requires to do everything it’s supposed to do are up to the levels we want.”
Bananas are nature’s sleeping pills because they are loaded with magnesium.
Most people are deficient in vitamin D and magnesium. Those are easy to identify, and it’s a simple test from your doctor. Iron is another big one besides vitamin D and magnesium, especially for women. If any one of those three is not where we want them to be in terms of normal ranges, that’s when we see them affecting sleep.
The reason I’m giving you this long explanation is that banana tea fixes one of those three deficiencies, and that is magnesium. A lot of people don’t know it, but bananas are loaded with magnesium. We call them nature’s sleeping pills because they have a lot of magnesium. Interestingly, the peel has three times the amount of magnesium as the fruit.
There is no actual tea in this recipe. Go out and get an organic banana and just wash it off. Make sure there’s no dirt or pesticides on it. Cut the tip and stem in half, but leave the peel on and the fruit in it.
Drop the two pieces into about three cups of boiling water. It should take about four or five minutes until the banana turns brown. Then drink the water in a six to eight ounces cup. You can add a little bit of honey or cinnamon to taste.
It comes with all the natural phytosterols that help absorb the magnesium better. In most patients, this works much better than magnesium supplementation. It’s a nice ritual to have at night before you go to bed.
You got to like bananas, but other than that, it works out well, and people seem to love it. I have one mom who makes it at the beginning of the week. She pours it into popsicle molds and gives it to her kids as summer treats. They have no idea; they’re out like a light.
That’s a ninja! That reminds me of something I heard. I met somebody allergic to bananas. Accidentally, he was given an organic banana once and did not react to it.
Oh, so it’s the pesticides, probably.
They make it through the peel. That blew my mind.
They do. People don’t understand the level of what’s going on with your fruit, especially fruits that you eat the skin. Apples are great examples. A lot of people are like I don’t even wash it off. That’s a bad idea. It’s worth 30 seconds to scrub off the outside of the apple before you chump on it and understand where your fruit is coming from. There are a lot of different practices and things like that going on, depending on what you are looking for.
Banana tea works great for sleep. Believe it or not, some foods are good for sleep, but as a general guideline, one of the things I tell people and this follows with Energize! book is also to stop eating approximately two hours before lights out.Your biological chronotype, whether you're an early bird or a night owl, plays a crucial role in determining the best time for various activities throughout the day. Click To Tweet
For example, if you go to bed at 10 PM, I don’t want another morsel going into your mouth after 8 PM. This allows for enough time for the digestive process to occur. If we go to bed with a full stomach, we don’t get great sleep because a lot of energy is diverted to the metabolic process. But more importantly, you can have nightmares depending on what you eat. If you have spicy food before bed, it can come out in a dream.
If you give yourself that two hours, you’ll only have 10 hours of fasting. You can eat again at eight in the morning. That would be a 12-hour fast.
That would be a perfect place for somebody to start, 12 hours of food, 12 hours of fasting. We don’t like people jumping into intermittent fasting programs too quickly because some say, “I will fast for 16 hours and only feed for 8, or I will fast for 20 hours and only eat for 4.” Slow your roll. This is a technique your body has got to get used to. Based on your body type, it can tell you how long you want it fast.
For example, you want a longer feeding time if you are an ectomorph or a long and lean person with little body fat. If you are a mesomorph, in the middle muscular, you might want to lose a little bit of weight but not a ton. Then you’re going to have closer to eight hours of feeding time. If you were an endomorph, the bigger person, you would want to fast longer and feed for shorter. You should feed for eight hours. We go from 12 to 10 to 8 hours in terms of the amount of eating time based on your body type.
We can dream in any stage of sleep, but the preponderance of dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
This way, people can’t start to understand more about scheduling their day and making that kind of thing work. If you layer on your chronotype, which we show you exactly how to do in the book, you even know when you go to bed. That just makes the whole thing work.
What is your body type, chronotype, eating window, and bedtime?
I am a mesomorph wolf. That means I am in the middle. My shoulders are much bigger than my waist. By the way, it is easy to tell which body type you are if you put your thumb and middle finger around your wrists. If it touches, you’re a mesomorph. If it’s got a space between it, you’re an endomorph. If the fingers overlap, you’re an ectomorph. It’s a very easy way to tell rudimentary from a body marker.
I am a mesomorph, wolf nighttime person. I go to bed around 11 o’clock or midnight. I get up around 7 AM. I do not eat until almost one o’clock in the afternoon.
For example, if you are a lion, somebody who likes to get up at 4 AM, that’s a different ball game. Then everything gets switched. You would eat earlier, and you would start your fast later.
Interesting. Let’s get metaphysical here. You mentioned nightmares and how eating late can contribute to that. I think there’s a metaphysical and spiritual component to nightmares. I want to read two sentences from The Practical Tanya, a Kabbalah book on Jewish mysticism.
This is a section about the meaning of your dreams. “If your soul successfully reached the heavens when you’re sleeping, your dreams would have a wholly pure content. Empathy or negative dream content suggests that your soul was unable to ascend heaven.” It’s humbling to think, “My soul doesn’t ascend to heaven. It’s hanging around in the astral plane doing all sorts of battling with demons and so forth. I want to ascend to heaven. I want to get higher up the ladder.”
Here’s how I would translate that on the sleep medicine side. It makes intuitive sense that depending upon where your state is, both mentally and spiritually, when you go to bed, that will determine how you sleep and your ability to get into certain stages of sleep. We know that we can dream in any stage of sleep, but the preponderance of dreaming occurs during REM sleep. This tends to happen very small in the first part of the night and much larger in the latter part.
Lucid dreaming is when you gain consciousness inside of the dream and realize that you’re dreaming.
One of the things we know is it’s much easier to fall asleep, and you have more positive dreams if you are optimistic before bed. That means a gratitude list, thinking through your issues, and finding solutions. It’s not the big problem-solving time just before bed. I want to be very clear.
That is a time for relaxation, rest, and scheduling in your mind when to attack a problem the next day. The time right before bed I consider to be sacred. I take that time quite seriously. The best metaphor I could use is the runway to land the plane.
People have got to have some time. Sleep is not an on/off switch. It’s more slowly pulling your foot off the gas and slowly putting your foot on the break. You have to give your body that wind-down time to achieve the type of sleep you are looking for.
In this Kabbalah reference, here’s what I would argue. Giving yourself time before bed, and in the Jewish faith, some nighttime prayers go on before bed. That is a time of relaxation, meditation, and connection. Very different than any other time you would have during the day, more than likely unless you practice those methods during the daytime.
That again allows for this relaxation to occur, then the natural sleep process takes over and brings you into those dreams. I don’t disagree at all. It’s an interesting translation of good sleep hygiene.
What is the best dream you’ve ever had?
Dreams interest me, but they are not something I studied too formally. I am not a dream researcher, but I know much about dreams. I was very fortunate. I worked on a project where we were doing something called lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is when you gain consciousness inside of the dream and realize that you’re dreaming. This is a real phenomenon, and it’s a skillset. You can train yourself to do this. There was a very fun and famous movie called Inception that kind of played off the idea of waking up inside your dream.
Those dreams are very fun for sure and fascinating enough. When you survey people to find out, because there are categories of those dreams that people have, there are two that every single person seems to have. It doesn’t matter who they are—flying and becoming intimate with somebody attractive. Those are the two big things, and it’s realistic.
Those are easily some of my more fun dreams. I certainly like the flying dream quite a lot. What’s interesting about lucid dreams and dream therapy—dream therapy is not a dream interpretation—is that many people think I write down or talk about my dream, and it means something. Nobody truly understands the meaning of dreams generally across the board. Dreams are very personal. You are the best person to understand what your dream means.
However, there is a whole area of study in psychology called dream therapy. These four-year-trained psychologists have spent years examining and understanding what happens during a dream.
I have a friend who is a dream therapist who walked me through what she does with clients. It is fascinating. If you suffer from significant bad dreams, nightmares, or night terrors, you can also use dream therapy to create positive and aspirational dreams for yourself.
You go into a therapeutic setting, like an office, and the therapist creates a safe space. You go into a very relaxed state, and the therapist says, “Bring back all the details of this nightmare that’s been happening to you.”
Dreams are very personal. You are the best person to understand what your dream means.
You start to bring up your nightmares in detail. The person’s eyes are closed, and they are imagining this in their mind’s eye.
One of the things that people don’t know about nightmares is that it’s defined as somebody waking up from a scary dream. Awakening seems to be one of the big problems. We’ve recently discovered that awakening stops the progress of the dream. Many people don’t know about this, but it’s taking your emotions and processing them while dreaming.
Our mind’s eye doesn’t know what to do with that information, and it comes up with this fantastical thing called a dream. This is where emotional processing goes on. When we wake somebody up in the middle, emotional processing stops, so they keep dreaming repeatedly because their brain hasn’t gotten through the emotional processing part.
When you sit somebody in a situation, in a safe space, you turn to them and say push play, you are safe. You let them talk through it because they already know it will happen in the dream. They don’t realize that they do, but it’s there unconsciously. Once you allow that to come through in the therapeutic session, they start to process the dream, then the frequency of these nightmares begins to reduce. Within usually 7 to 21 days, it’s gone.
Okay, interesting. Have you done a lot of lucid dreaming? By the way, I interviewed Charlie Morley, a world expert on lucid dreaming. It’s a great interview. One of my understandings of lucid dreaming is that once you’ve tested yourself to ensure you are awake, you’re conscious and still in the dream. For example, I learned that you can hold your nose and try to breathe in. If you can still breathe in, you’re in the dream.
That’s right. You can identify that you’re in the dream in several different ways. Clocks that don’t move and something like holding your nose but still being able to breathe.
The big one is people will put a big X on the back of their hand and look at it all day long. When you look at it, and there’s no longer an X, you’re dreaming.
This requires forethought to be okay. I’m going to be ready for my dream.
When you get into the habit of it, it’s quite interesting. Again, it’s a skill set you can acquire. I worked with Dr. Stephen LaBerge, who discovered lucid dreaming and is the father of lucid dreaming. He’s also very out there regarding his ideas and thoughts about dreams and dreaming. From a more scientific standpoint, we have had at least three different laboratories develop entry processes to the lucid dream.
We can reliably teach somebody how to lucid dream. We can reliably put somebody into lucid dreaming by having a set of goggles on their head that has a specific program in it, and it hits them at a particular time, and we can pop them right in.
My understanding is that if you take control of the dream and start going to the gym in your dream and lifting weights, you’ll build muscle.
It depends. Building muscle takes time, so you must go to the gym every night in your dream to see any real major effect. For example, we see heart rate elevation when we wake somebody in a lucid dream. We do see muscle contractions. I can’t speak to whether or not we build muscle, but fast twitch muscle fibers start firing off when that person is lucid dreaming and dreaming that they are doing something physical. We do know that does happen.
But remember, there’s a part of REM sleep called atonia. This is a mechanism that prevents you from actually acting out your dreams. This is a very important mechanism because your safety becomes a massive issue. If you’re acting out your dreams and you’re in bed and trying to lift weights, and suddenly you take your partner and lift your partner over your head and toss them because you think you are tossing a weight bag, that can be a big issue.
Also, there is something called REM sleep behavior disorder on the more medial side. This is a situation where that paralytic mechanism or that mechanism that stops you from moving no longer works, and you do act out of your dreams. It’s uncommon, but seeing it in a population is not unreasonable.
While working in my different practices, I’ve seen it half a dozen to a dozen times throughout my career, and it’s quite fascinating. It is also a precursor for Parkinson’s syndrome. If you have a lucid dream and somebody says you jumped out of bed and you were doing the thing that was in your lucid dream, you probably want to talk to a sleep specialist because while your muscle might twitch and have small movements, the actual physical movement of getting up and moving around could be a sign of something else going on.
Alright. What about on the opposite end of the spectrum, if someone has sleep paralysis and can’t do anything while tormented by some negative entity and terrified?
Sleep paralysis is a well-known physiological phenomenon. We see it all the time, and it has mostly to do with sleep deprivation. Many say, “My body was paralyzed, and a demon was taking over it,” or “It was a spiritual experience.” I’m not a spiritual expert in any way, shape, or form, but I can tell you what happens on the medical side.
Remember how we discussed that paralytic mechanism where your brain is in paralysis? You don’t move. That is what happens during sleep paralysis. Your body wakes up quickly for unknown reasons and is still stuck in REM sleep. While your eyes can open, almost nothing else works except your eyes and lungs.
To be fair, most people get terrified of this situation. Many interviewed people have told me they thought they woke up dead, “My body died. My brain just hasn’t clicked off. I only had a few seconds left and couldn’t move.” You can’t speak, and it’s very terrifying. This is a physiological phenomenon, and 90% of the time, it’s due to sleep deprivation.
If you are sleep deprived, if you’re not getting good quality or good quantity sleep, you will have this. By the way, it is normal for everybody to experience this one to three to five times in their lifetime. Looking back, it happened on a night when you had a lot of alcohol or stayed up late.Respect your body's need for sleep. It is a vital process that affects your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Prioritize sleep for a healthier and more fulfilling life. Click To Tweet
The other 10% fall into a category within a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy has the narcoleptic triad, which is three different symptoms we use, any one of which we can use to identify having narcolepsy that is hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. As we fall asleep and wake up, we see things that aren’t there.
There’s sleep paralysis itself, and then there is something called cataplexy. Cataplexy is a very weird situation. When somebody expresses emotion like laughter, anger, or surprise, the atonia kicks in, and they drop like a stone and fall to the ground or become unsteady. This is very common in narcoleptics.
To be fair, it’s quite sad because when I work with narcoleptics, one of the very first things I ask them is, “Do you laugh at jokes?” They say, “Oh, no. I can’t laugh. If I laugh, I fall over then everybody laughs at me.” Can you imagine Stephan, you can’t laugh at a joke? Can you imagine how depressing that will be for life?
You can’t watch a comedy without falling to the floor and having a problem. To be fair, there are severities. Some people have it lighter, and others have it more severe. When looking at the whole thing, there’s a lot there. That was a long-winded answer to sleep paralysis, but it’s pretty involved.
If you are experiencing sleep paralysis, sleep more. Increase the quantity of sleep. If you are still experiencing it, improve the quality.
If you are experiencing sleep paralysis, sleep more. Increase the quantity of sleep. If you are still experiencing it, improve the quality. Lower your caffeine and alcohol, get rid of cannabis, and see how it’s affecting your overall sleep. If it’s still happening, see a sleep specialist to ensure you don’t have narcolepsy.
Have you had any episodes where you had sleep paralysis, and it was really disturbing, maybe terrifying even?
Absolutely. My wife reported to me that I was almost face down, and she could hear me moaning or trying to cry out to her to wake me up because there was something that I was not happy about going on in my dream while I was sleep paralyzed. Yes, it occurred to me before.
I had not slept well for multiple nights in a row. I was sleep deprived, and I had alcohol that evening. Here’s the thing to remember, I’m fortunate because I’m a sleep doctor. It goes away for sure.
Do you believe that negative entities can interfere with us, give us nightmares, or torment us in our sleep state?
When we look at the dream state, some of us will think of it as a portal to consciousness and a completely different plane of existence.
Exactly. There’s something there. We’re not good at measuring and metricing it. It’s very difficult. I’m a scientist, but I also understand that there are things science isn’t good at measuring yet, because we haven’t figured out the tools yet. That could fall into that category.
It would make intuitive sense because so many people report certain things that make you think there has to be something else going on there. A great example is when people see people that have died in their dreams and have entire conversations with them. Information is relayed to these people, which positively affects or helps somebody in the waking world.
I don’t want to be close-minded and say, “I am a scientist, and we can’t prove that, and I don’t believe it.” What I can tell you is a lot of people believe it, and there are a lot of unknown aspects to what’s going on with our conscious mind in sleep.
It could be a doorway. It could be a portal. But we’ll have to learn more about how our brains react during that period. Almost nobody is researching this on a pure science level to try to understand that as well as it could be understood.
Have you had any experiences where loved ones who’ve passed visit you in your dreams?
I have not had those experiences in particular, but actually, in the forward of my book Energize!, I talk about an out-of-body experience I had. I had a cardiac event in the middle of the restaurant and was unconscious for a significant period. I saw some stuff. I don’t know if that was my brain shutting down or my brain turning on, but I’ve had some experiences that I can’t explain.
I find it interesting, and it’s an area that, if I could learn more, I would. Most people in my position are hard science guys and gals, and it’s like, “If I can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”
That’s a problematic place to be, speaking from experience, because I was studying for a Ph.D. in biochemistry. I have a Master’s degree. I dropped out of the Ph.D. Hard-core scientist, agnostic, I was lost up until age 42.
I had an awakening experience in India on a Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership trip where a monk touched me on the head, and it was a psychedelic trip. I’ve never done drugs, but everything was technicolor as if somebody is describing what an LSD trip is like. I felt this deep sense of peace and connection to God, to all that is, and to change my life.
It’s been amazing. Then I had another big milestone in my spiritual evolution on January 22nd, 2021, when I prayed in the middle of the night for a job inspired by a past guest, Sheila Gillette. She’s a famous psychic, and she was on her deathbed in 1969 praying for a job. She had a pulmonary embolism, a complication from childbirth.
She was miraculously saved, to the astonishment of all the doctors, and then her psychic abilities came on. I don’t know what I was asking for exactly. In retrospect, you can connect the dots afterward to rally before. I, for one, didn’t want to have a near-death experience to get the job. That was implied.
Secondly, I didn’t know it involved psychic abilities. Now I have all these amazing psychic abilities, visions, prophetic dreams, and all sorts of things that if you had told me about this back when I was agnostic and I was all into the science and nothing else, I would have said you’ve been smoking something.
To put a bow on that, that happens to people. That’s something to be honored and respected, and I tried to understand if understanding is what you’re supposed to do with that or if there’s some other calling for it. What goes on outside our brain is only one realm.
I think there is a whole other thing going on, and it’s’ not like we have to be connected to the matrix and a wire is pulled out the back of our head and all that insanity. There’s a connection that people can reach through this idea of a portal.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there. I love hearing about your experience. That’s super interesting.
Have you slept since then? Do you sleep better? Do you sleep worse? What happens for some people who sometimes gain what we call a gift is it could be disruptive. It could be too much. There could be so much information that’s coming through that it is difficult to protect themselves or to be able to slow things down because it’s such a rush, almost like a firehose type of thing. How have you been able to handle it, and how have you slept afterward?
I sleep quite well. This has been a discovery process, trying to get a handle on my abilities and what’s coming in and protecting my energetic boundaries. I would get interfered with every Tuesday. Something about Tuesday night, they were just on me like a fly on, you know what. That, thankfully, had stopped. I put energetic protection around me before I go to sleep, and it does help.
I do know if I had been interfered with throughout the night. I’ll get this little flash of something that doesn’t look up the light when I wake up. Then I test, like a muscle test or ask and just hear with clairaudience whether something negative has attached to me.Honor your dreams and try to understand why they occur. Sometimes, they hold important messages or emotional processing. Click To Tweet
This probably sounds crazy to you because we haven’t talked lately, but I get mentoring from multiple psychics, meta-intuitive, reiki masters, and so forth. One of my mentors, Tina Zion, was a guest in this show, and she’s amazing and such a beautiful soul. She taught me how to remove negative entities by calling in angels, divine and sacred beings, to eliminate them.
I’m also getting stuff from above. You may think now he’s getting out there. I’m getting thought techniques and distinctions that make a difference in my ability to protect myself. I’ll just blast out from the center of my solar plexus outward.
Is the download occurring in your brain while you sleep? Or does it happen while you meditate?
It’s more all day because I constantly conversing and receive stuff. A lot of times, it comes as a complete knowing, a whole package. It’s like a terabyte of data just all at once. I’ve also done automatic writing, where my hand is taken over, and I’m writing in cursive. Not my handwriting of words or names that I’ve never heard before, and then I Google it, and it turns out these are people I’m supposed to be in contact with. It’s just wild.
For folks out there and thinking through this whole idea of optimization, sleep, spirituality, and bringing many factors in to get them together, it’s safe to say that you can receive these types of messages in many unique ways.
One thing that a lot of people can do is remember their dreams. One of the things I tell people all the time is, “If you want to feel a little bit more of a connection to that part of you, then you can start a dream diary.” Very simple.
If you want to feel more connected to a certain part of yourself, you can start a dream diary.
When you wake up in the morning, all you do is just write down what’s inside your head. Just very gently, don’t go crazy. Don’t be thinking, “What’s happening inside my head right now?” Just write down until you don’t feel like writing anymore. Close the book. Go about your day.
Here’s a helpful distinction, but I’d like to know if science can back this up. If you move your head or your body around, the dream memory goes much faster. If you have the dream journal right next to your bed and try not to move around too much, then you can keep it in your head longer to retain that memory to write it down.
What happens is that if your executive function takes over, like, “I have to sit up, I have to go find my phone, I have to find a piece of paper, I have to do this. All that executive function pushes that memory further away from solidifying and getting locked in.
You lock in memories during REM sleep which you are now coming out of. It’s hard to lock this in, so you are correct if you start to do a whole bunch of things.
I have one client they have a voice recorder right next to them. It’s a one-button thing. They’re not searching on the phone for an app. They just have it right here. They grab it, and they just click.
They talk about anything until there is nothing in their head. Then they unclick, and then it gets transcribed. They can then review it, learn more, and understand what happens over time.
One thing I learned from a webinar I attended is I can just sense when I’m being guided to something, and this was something I was guided to. Karen Noe, a famous psychic, attended her webinar on how to receive messages from loved ones and angels.
One of the things that stuck for me from the content of her webinar was to ask for a dream and to be woken up from it so you’ll remember it. I did that night. I asked one of my spirit guides to give me a dream and to wake me up from it. I’ll never forget that dream for the rest of my life.
That was the most heavenly upper world in the higher dimensions kind of dream I’ve ever had. It was also prophetic, so it hasn’t come to pass yet, but I know it will. It had this ethereal sort of quality to it. It was as if you could have the most delicate, intricate tapestry in an energetic form overlayed onto your dream. It was like that. I don’t know if that’s the right way to describe it, but that’s the only thing I could think of as a way to describe it as different from every other dream I’ve ever had.
I haven’t had a dream like that since, but I haven’t been asking for dreams like that before. I’ve just been asking for occasional visits from loved ones, like my cat, who passed in 2016. During my sleep, I had an incredible stay with her in the astral realm; it was so real. It felt as real as this physical reality, if not more so.
It was incredible. It was like a reunion. I love exploring these different metaphysical and spiritual aspects of the dream and sleep states because there are so many hours of the day every night. I’m curious to hear your take on what I just said.
From a scientific perspective, that was an important dream to you about your cat because you had a tremendous history with your cat. Your cat had some tremendous emotional meaning to you. When you were asking for something like that to be back into your life, meaning into your brain, right into your thoughts, then you recall an area of your brain that’s deep inside your brain, deep with emotion.
You had a tremendous love for that animal, I am assuming. When that occurs, you’re accessing a part of your brain like, “I haven’t accessed this in a long time. This is awesome.” Then you get more involved in things like that.
For example, you didn’t say, “I’m going to ask for some random strangers to come up and talk to me.” You didn’t, and nobody ever does. People ask for emotionally valiant things or have an emotional tie to them. That’s a big key that starts the engine for that level of connection.
If you just said, “I just want to have a nice happy dream,” you probably have them, but you probably wouldn’t remember them. If you said, “I want to have a nice happy dream with my aunt who passed away and my mom who’s no longer with us. I want her in the dream.” You’ll remember that because you have a high emotional valence for those particular people, and when they show up in your dream, that’s also an encoding process.Awakening stops the progress of a dream, and it’s taking your emotions and processing them while dreaming. Our mind's eye doesn't know what to do with that information, and it comes up with a dream. Click To Tweet
You are also, with your emotion being coded and processed through that, once again to allow for that feeling of, “Wow, this is here. This is super vivid.” Not to take anything away from the metacritical standpoint of it.
What happens if there is no emotional juice like that? This is more of a vision than a dream. It was a still environment. There was nobody in the room. It was this beautiful, and it had this museum quality to it. It looked like it was from a different era and had such intricacies, ultra high definition. It was like I was in an Imax movie, 360-degree vision of ultra-high definition.
I remember opening my eyes. I was lying in bed and opening my eyes. I saw the room’s background, including this sliding glass door. I could still see that image of where I was in the astral realm. I could still see it overlaying the room’s background, slowly fading away.
It was not after-image colors that were inverse. I had no connection to that room in terms of recognition. There was nobody in there. There were some musical instruments in there.
It wasn’t like I was on the verge of sleep awakeness in the morning. I felt like I was not asleep, and it was not a dream state but a vision instead of a dream.
Many people feel and see things, especially as they wake up. It depends upon the environment. If you had been asleep then woke up from said environment—again, on the science side of things, not the spirituality. I’m not saying negatively against that—we would call that a hypnopompic hallucination.
As you wake up, you see things that may or may not be there. That would be somewhat what you described. Again, you had a particular meaning to you, so it had worth to you. You might not have focused on it if it was a color or a sound. But you can continue that movie in your head because it wasn’t, and you concentrate on it. Again, the brain is incredibly powerful and has many things it can do, especially when you’re in that state.
If I had to argue a point, you are in a post-sleep trance hypnotic state, so you’re not quite awake or asleep, but you’re soft off in a trance. It’s like when you are doing hypnosis. Have you ever done hypnosis before?
Yeah. Progression hypnosis too.
If you don’t have good sleep equipment, you don’t sleep well.
As people walk you through just within the first 15 minutes of that hypnotic state, there’s a lot of stuff going on and information coming in. That reminds me of that overlay situation that you are talking about. I’ve got that one thing there. I’m in a post-hypnotic trance state, so that will stay. Over time, that might fade as my executive functions start to come on as I choose for it to do so.
I’m not saying you didn’t have a regression to a past life. I’m not saying it didn’t mean something. I’m not saying it wasn’t influential. I’m trying to explain it from a science perspective.
You’re such a nerd.
Yes, I am.
I am too. I’m exploring the other side of myself in much greater depth these days.
Let’s be fair, Stephan. That’s a hell lot more interesting. Science is science. I’m not saying we don’t learn new interesting stuff as things are going on, but people should embrace these ideas, and many don’t. A lot of them just say it’s just a dream. It doesn’t mean anything.
I’m not convinced that’s true, either. People need to honor the ideas floating around in their dream state and start to understand why they are there. Sometimes, it’s just straight-up emotional processing.
There’s another kind of dream we haven’t discussed: stress strain. I have a very particular stress strain. My dream is all of a sudden, I come into, and I am in high school. The bell rings, and I run to my locker to get my books for the next class.
I show up at my locker, and it’s one of those combination lockers, and I’m spinning the dial and can’t remember the combination. For the life of me, I can’t remember the combination. That dream I have every single time there’s something stressful going on in my life.
For example, if I have that dream, full bar stop, something is going on with me either emotionally, spiritually, or physically. I need to check myself, understand that stress level, and do something about it. Some people have repetitive dreams, which can be an instance of that as well.
Equipment matters in sleep. Finding the right mattress, pillows, and sheets to create that sleep system can have a big effect.
Here’s a tip for you. Instead of writing an X on the back of your hand, write your locker combination.
You’ll know if you are in a lucid state strain. I think that might suck. Wouldn’t that be awful unless you fix it? If I saw the combination, then I began to go.
Yeah, exactly. How does our listener, viewer, learn more from you? You’re such a fascinating guy. Where should they go to work with you or sign up for your courses?
Absolutely. I have a very easy website to remember, thesleepdoctor.com. Nobody out there is going to forget that one. Also, I have the same handle on all my social media, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. We put out a tremendous amount of sleep tips and facts and different ones in different venues. What you see on Twitter is not what you see on TikTok.
Whatever your social media platform, if you participate in such a thing, you can catch me there. If social media is not your thing, I have done a great job giving science-backed information about sleep and dreams on the website. Everything you could want to look at is referenced from a science perspective. You’re going to see it there.
We throw a tremendous number of mattress reviews. If you don’t have good sleep equipment, you don’t sleep well. Sleep is a performance activity, a lot like running. If you are a runner in flip flops and torn cutoffs with the boombox on your arm, your time will not be good. If you got your asics, dry fit wear, and AirPods in, you could probably click off a seven-thirty mile with no problem.
Equipment matters in sleep. Finding the right mattress, pillows, and sheets to create that sleep system can have a big effect.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Michael. Listener, try something new. From this episode, pick something that you’re going to do. Try it for a week. For example, ask a loved one who’s passed to show up in a dream and to wake you up so you remember it or try one of these sleep hacks like banana tea and see what it does for you and the quality of your life. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
Connect with Dr. Michael Breus
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Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Identify my body type and chronotype to create personalized sleep and fasting schedules. Match my eating and fasting times to my body’s natural rhythms to enhance energy levels.
Improve my sleep quality by abstaining from eating for at least two hours before sleep. This also reduces the risk of nightmares. Avoiding food before bed allows for proper digestion and helps the metabolic process during sleep.
Cultivate an optimistic mindset before bed. Practice gratitude and find solutions to issues rather than focusing on my problems.
Address sleep paralysis by increasing sleep quantity and improving sleep quality, as both are often related to sleep deprivation.
Invest in sleep equipment for better sleep quality. Find the right mattress, pillows, and sheets to create a sleep system.
Consider dream therapy as a powerful tool for addressing nightmares and night terrors. Dream therapy can create a safe space for me to process emotions.
Understand the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of my dreams, as they can be influenced by my pre-bedtime mental and spiritual state.
Practice lucid dreaming which enables me to stay aware inside of my dreams. This allows for fascinating dreams and helps me to process my emotions during sleep.
Create a dream diary to record my dreams after I wake. Keeping a dream diary is a simple way to explore the dream world and connect with my subconscious.
Visit thesleepdoctor.com to access science-backed information on sleep and dreams. Stay informed about optimizing your sleep for a healthier and happier life.
About Dr. Michael Breus
Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is a double board certified Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Sleep Specialist. He is one of only 168 psychologists worldwide to have taken and passed the Sleep Medicine Boards without going to Medical School.
Dr. Breus is the author of three books, with the newest book (2017), The Power of When, a groundbreaking bio-hacking book proving that there is a perfect time to do everything based on your biological chronotype (early bird or night owl). Dr. Breus gives the reader the exact time to have sex, run a mile, eat a cheeseburger, buy, sell, ask your boss for a raise and much more based on over 200 research studies.
He is an expert resource for most major publications doing more than 300 interviews per year (Oprah, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, NY Times, Wall Street Journal etc. Dr. Breus has been in private practice for 23 years and recently relocated to and was named the Top Sleep Doctor of Los Angles, By Readers Digest.
Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.
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