While dreaming can happen during any stage of a normal sleep cycle, the most vivid deep dreams occur during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase. Not only is REM sleep important for dreaming, but it is also one of the most important stages of sleep to help your brain reboot and perform at its peak. So, if you are sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress or in an uncomfortable position, it can affect more than just your physical comfort, it can affect your dreams as well.Related Blog: 4 Things That Our Dreams Tell Us about Ourselves
How Your Position Can Influence Your Dreams
A study conducted at Hong Kong Shue Yan University found a distinct correlation between sleep position and what happened in people's dreams. This study suggests that sleeping on your left side can sometimes lead to more nightmares. Sleeping on your right side may lead to more peaceful, serene dreams. Sleeping on your back tends to be the wild-card position where anything goes! These positions are the most common.
Finally, the least common position, sleeping on your stomach, actually affects the intensity of your dreams leading to scarier, stranger, or more romantic dreams. The theory behind this is that when you are lying prone on the bed, it can lead to all sorts of related feelings (such as being smothered or weighted down) which can heavily influence your dreams.
Though the study does not offer an explanation as to why there seems to be such a correlation, traditional Chinese medicine lends a potential theory as to why this may be true. It is believed that the right side of the body is more masculine, grounded, and physical. The left side is believed to be more feminine, emotional, and intuitive. If there is discomfort caused by a bad mattress on one side of the body, it may upset the balance and lead to the other side taking dominance and manifesting in your dreams.
Discomfort Can Influence Your Dreams
Along the lines of the study, we can surmise that discomfort in any part of the body being caused by your mattress can have a significant impact on your dreams. Physical discomfort can lead to less REM sleep, which affects your overall health and dreams. If your mattress retains a lot of heat, not only will you feel hot and uncomfortable all night, you will also sweat more which leads to a gross buildup of sweat and dead skin in your mattress. Additionally, you can actually start dreaming of being in situations like wandering through the desert in search of relief from a scorching sun. A lumpy mattress hitting on all the wrong pressure points can cause pain and soreness that seeps into your dreams as scary situations where you are fleeing painful or traumatic events.
That Feeling When You're Falling
Ever get that feeling of falling as your drifting off to sleep, only to wake up with a start, your heart pounding? That is called a hypnic jerk (or boggie jerk) and it is caused by caffeine, anxiety, a dream or discomfort. The result is a sudden muscle twitch usually experienced right before the first stage of sleep.
Though there is no concrete evidence to fully understand why the jerking motions occur, it is believed that as the body relaxes in preparation for sleep, our brains get a little confused and think we are falling. The brain then sends a signal to the muscles to try to counteract this feeling, resulting in that startling jerk out of our slumber. There is, however, a direct correlation between the discomfort caused by your mattress and the frequency of hypnic jerks occurring. So, if you find yourself experiencing this often, it is definitely time to consider getting a better mattress.