Dream Sleep & Trauma: Trauma Other Therapies

In How Dreaming Helps Us Get Over Traumatic Experiences (or Not), Olga Kabel brings together the findings of multiple research projects and reports from doctors working on clinical applications.

  • She cites powerful research regarding the role of dream sleep in helping us to “get over our small and large dramatic events” due, it seems, to how dreaming can cause the brain to separate memories from the emotional reaction to them.
  • Another research study showed that people whose dreams included emotional themes related to their particular traumatic experience recovered from the trauma.
  • The article then highlights the question, why don’t dreams work in the case of PTSD sufferers who replay traumatic experiences and emotions in nightmares night after night?
  • One researcher “suggested that this happens because of excessively high levels of noradrenaline in their brains that prevents them from experiencing normal healing qualities of REM sleep. The brain attempts to strip away the strong emotional charge from the memory, but cannot do that because of the high stress-chemical environment. So it tries again the next night, and the next, and the next… “
  • The article went on to describe a doctor who prescribed a drug that helped the patients to sleep. Whether or not such therapies are needed for particular individuals, awareness of the natural role of dreaming may be useful knowledge.