Minutes of the January, 2010, Oneironauticum, by jennifer
Present at the January, 2010 Oneironauticum were dreamers Vibrata, David S., lissa ivy, Dean, Erik, Christine, David W., Stacy, Nathan, Phoebe, Zak, and yours truly, Jennifer.
We started the evening with a viewing of the NOVA special on dreaming, followed by a discussion of the contents. Several items interested the crowd particularly. One point involved the dreams of depressed people. According to the special, depressed people go right into REM in the first stages of sleep. This differs from the normal pattern of sleepers. I put together the below chart for the class I taught on dreams at Pacifica Graduate Institute. We’ve discussed these cycles before at Oneironauticum sessions.
We also know, from an interview with Elanor Rosch that we’ve discussed, that depressed people’s sleeping and dreaming brains function differently. Generally, for everyone, dreams in the early part of the night involve images and feelings etc. from the recent past, the day’s residue. During those early in the sleep cycle dreams, the are in the frontal lobes of the brain that are involved in logic and planning remain active (measured by blood flow and PET and fMRI scans). Later in the sleep cycle, the frontal part of the brain becomes inactive, and dreams begin to primarily involve other material, often with stranger, less normal content. But in depressed people, those frontal lobes stay active all night, the logic and planning parts of the brain keep buzzing along.
Oneironauticum participants talked about times in our lives when we’ve felt depressed, and about the higher percentage of unpleasant dreams, particularly anxiety dreams, we’ve experienced during those times.
Around midnight, we all took 50 mg of 5-HTP in tablet form (except for Nathan, who took 100 mg). Most of us chewed our tablets, a recommendation from a couple of the frequent 5-HTP users in the group.
In the morning, over brunch, we shared our dreams. Overall, we found the 5-HTP produced strong dreams, for many of us featuring vivid color. About half of us reported a series of short, intense dreams instead of long narrative ones. A few of us woke from and returned to the same dream several times, a quality that the frequent ingesters of 5-HTP claim is characteristic of the oneirogen. A couple people woke feeling that they had actually spoken out loud during a dream. Three participants reported feeling headachey and not well rested. As often happens, many of us also had dreams involving the actual space where we slept and other present dreamers.