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Dream Deprivation Linked to Major Health Concerns

July 23rd 2006

Dream Deprivation Linked to Major Health Concerns


Tucson, Arizona - June 15, 2006 - Despite growing awareness of the health risks associated with sleep loss, we remain in the dark about the significant extent and consequences of dream loss. Mounting evidence suggests that dreaming or REM sleep is suppressed by common aspects of modern lifestyle. Many widely used medications—especially antidepressants and sleeping pills, as well as evening alcohol consumption constrain normal dreaming. And now, new findings are establishing a clear connection between the loss of dreaming and serious illness.

Dr. Rubin Naiman, clinical assistant professor of medicine and the sleep specialist for Dr. Andrew Weil’s Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, stresses this concern in his new book, HEALING NIGHT:  The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming, and Awakening (Syren Book Company). Naiman believes that we are in deep and dangerous denial about the extent, causes, and consequences of dream deprivation.


Most people are unaware that many of their daily habits and routines are depriving them of their dream lives. “It’s not simply about sleep loss,” explains Naiman.

“We are as at least as dream deprived as we are sleep deprived.” Much of what we consider sleep loss or insomnia, especially during the second half of the night, is in actuality a loss of REM or dream activity. An extended course of such dream restrictive insomnia, what Naiman refers to as DRI sleep, is the single strongest predictive factor for clinical depression.

DRI sleep may have other serious repercussions, as well. Many decades ago Carl Jung and his colleagues first noted a link between dream loss and cancer. More recent findings are lending support to this perspective. Evidence from both human and animal studies suggests that the suppression of melatonin, a neurohormone associated with peak dream activity, may be a critical factor in the development of cancer.


Most sleep specialists discount the importance and meaning of dreams. “Trying to solve sleep problems without simultaneously addressing dream loss is like trying to manage heart problems through diet while completely ignoring exercise,” says Naiman. “We are missing a most critical component of healthy nights.”

In Healing Night, Naiman recommends a two-pronged approach: pinpointing and managing specific lifestyle factors that suppress dreaming, and encouraging people to actively develop a relationship with their dreams. Naiman believes incorporating dreamwork into the treatment of sleep disorders, depression, and cancer can significantly enhance treatment outcomes. For those not struggling with illness, healthy dreaming can measurably enhance the quality of life.

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Rubin Naiman, PhD

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM