When asleep, many people dream they can fly. Some dream about being naked in public, failing an exam, or (gasp!) about sex. Last night, I dreamed that I was walking.
I have that walking dream a couple of times a year. I’m walking along and all of a sudden, I realize that I’ve left my two canes behind. My short dream last night, however, was better than usual. I dreamed that I had run up a flight of stairs. I’d bounded up those steps so quickly that I was out of breath. Then I walked away, as if my MS never existed. Unfortunately, I woke up.
In the MS Facebook groups that I frequent, people report a wide variety of sleep experiences. Some say they never remember their dreams. Others, like me, find that they’re able-bodied in their dreams.
Interestingly, I can’t remember ever having a dream where I’ve had trouble walking or have used a mobility aid. In my dreams, I’m never handicapped. An article in Psychology Today tells us that “dreams are frequently interesting, and can allow people to act out certain scenarios that would never be possible in real life.” That’s what I’m doing.
Is there a dream connection to MS?
Some of the people in the Facebook groups report that their dreams have changed since their MS diagnosis. They say their dreams have become more vivid and realistic.
I’ve searched for a study that investigated whether a connection might exist between MS and dreams, but I’ve not been successful in finding one. The closest I have come is a brief article from 2013 in the Iranian Journal of Neurology. Its author believes that, because dreaming is a kind of cognitive process, “MS may influence patients’ dreams. … We do not know what the importance of dream is in MS, but further studies may introduce dream and dreaming as a sign of improvement or progression in MS disease.”
I don’t buy into that hypothesis, but here’s another interesting possibility. Information on the National Sleep Foundation website reports that “people with narcolepsy often report having vivid, bizarre, or disturbing dreams.” Narcoleptics are people who have trouble staying awake during the daytime. They sleep poorly at night, may have cognitive problems, and may be on medications that could have an impact on their cognitive functions. That sounds like some of us with MS.
What are your dreams like?
Do you, like me, regularly dream of walking like a normal person? Or does your handicap appear in your dreams? Do you have vivid or disturbing dreams? Do people with a different chronic illness, such as pulmonary fibrosis, see themselves as disease-free when they dream? If you’ve talked with a healthcare professional about your dreams, what have you been told?
Do you think there’s a connection between having MS and the way that you dream?
You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
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