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Dream/sleep problems - age related?
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Dream/sleep problems - age related?

I will soon be 74, suffer from heart disease, am tall (was 6'6", now closer to 6'5") and a little overweight, say about 30 pounds (I'd be happy at 20 less).  I quite smoking about 30 years ago, ran for exercise until the age of 67, when atrial fibrillation put a stop to that.  Other than AFib and side-effects of heart medication I feel fairly good, can walk for miles on the level, and can do a couple flights of stairs without stopping, no climbing the Washington Monument in my future. I am a retired electrical engineer but have remained active in the field by holding a number of executive and board appointed posts in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).  With age and loss of contact with the current business/engineering world my value to the IEEE in such positions is also passing.  The IEEE is a professional/technical organization with about 400,000 members worldwide (a bit over 50% in the USA).

With the above introduction (other information in my profile on this forum)  I post here and elsewhere (sleep disorder for example) on my problems with what I call "trouble mares".   They in general reflect on my past active personal and business life and all have a common confusion scenario - be it travel and meeting complications or something not directly related to my work life.  This has been going on for upwards of 10 years, but I think became more prevalent after I retired from my paid work life - work in the IEEE is all voluntary, no pay, but otherwise similar to my past paid work life.

I have discussed my dream problems with my primary care and with my cardiologist (I take beta blockers which can stimulate some dream problems).  I have not discussed with a Psychiatrist.

I post here seeking feed back from others who are in their senior years and have or have had dream problems.  I think myself that my problems are not caused by heart medications (not sure but I think the dreaming started before I was on heart meds) and wonder if there is any general connection with aging.  I know dealing with aging does put stress on my waking hours both because of health deterioration and the fact I am (or am becoming) irrelevant to the ongoing work of my past profession and even with the direction of the USA, my home country.
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Try to enjoy thehttp://www.medhelp.org/posts/Senior-Health/Dream-sleep-problems---age-related/show/1915708#m. Many people have no dreams at all. I can dream eight or nine really realistic dreams a night. If I drop my eyes for five minutes I dream. Some are good. Some bad. Really terrorizing. But in retrospect, all enjoyable. The ones with the aliens are the most interesting. Some of them are really frightening. All in color. I've always had them, so I can't connect them with aging, but they include the "Tesla" dreams, assembling mechanical devices and inventing.
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Hmmm. The above post is not what I posted. Gremlins I huess.  I wrote a simple sentence. "Try to enjoy them" without an "http" hyperlink.
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Thanks, I read you to be a Lucid Dreamer... did it come naturally or did you work at it, to achieve it?

I have read a little on the subject of Lucid Dreaming presented by Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University.  I have not yet been able to take charge of my mind when dreaming, my subconscious remains in charge.

I seldom have a dream I'd describe as frightening, thus my label of "trouble mares".

I guess it is good to know others dream on a regular basis.. I have been led to believe all dream, most just don't remember it.  I too forget details after a short time, but do remember the type of dreams I had during the sleep period just finished.

I can couple a nasal congestion problem with my dream problem.  I do not believe I suffer from sleep apnea, I will discuss getting that checked when I see my primary care later this month.  The congestion, from which I sometimes feel like I am suffocating (never mind I can breath through my mouth) is my spontaneous mental reaction..that is frightening.

The two, nasal congestion when lying down, and frequent dreams tend to push me into a depressed state, that I can break by getting up and getting going with the daytime world.

I just wish I could have a more enjoyable/restful sleep.  I do not have sleepiness problems during the day.  For example, I can drive a car cross country for upwards of 12 hours with just short breaks for lunch and "pit stops" and don't have a sleep problem.  Suppose that says I am getting rest when sleeping.  

Still I dread going to bed at night and usually try to read once in bed until I can't read any more.  I fall asleep without much difficulty.
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As for helping to sleep I recommend melatonin, about thirty minutes before bedtime. It resets the circadian cycle.

I have always had lucid dreams. They are really halucinations, and often I know I am in a halucination. I revisit dead people, knowing that this is not real, but I can understand why some people really believe they have been abducted or do "visit the dead".

I never worked to achieve it. I've had them since I was a small child.My memory extends to the time when I just left the hospital; after birth. Another curiosity. And the memories are real.

Lately I have had some interesting alien dreams with a yellow spidery ball alien with a brown spot in the middle flying around the room and crawling quickly along the floor. That is something new. Go figure.

Many of them are in the same"set". My halucinated apartment has an additional room and door, and stairway, so I know the difference. When in such a state I experiment with taste, color and feeling (hand in water, texture of a wall). I can close my eyes and be in such a state in minutes and dream a dozen episodes a "night".
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Stephen Labege (I think I spell this Lebege - at time, must be French, way beyond my language capability) might be interested in your experience.  I find it quite unusual, not only in my own experience history, but in what I have read about others.  Stephen runs a Lucid Dream center at Stanford, so he must be doing ongoing research.  

Last night I had what seems to have been an extended dream dealing with me leading a really screwed up group of engineers working to develop a technical standard - I in fact did that kind of work in my "professional" life.  It had constant confusion from the opening Plenary to a fragmented closing Plenary in which I somehow lost one shoe and was having trouble getting home.  I may have waked up and returned to the dream once or twice, I know I got up at least three times to "pee" and spray saline solution in my nose.

The other problem I have with this type of dream it is gets my mind wandering when I am still awake and the mind running its own course visits unhappy (nothing really big in most cases, but big in others, my wife is fighting cancer) subjects and I start to get depressed.  If after 6 AM ( I go to bed at midnight, sometime stay awake for 30 more minutes) I frequently get up, especially if our small dog, a Westie - known for skin allergy and other problems, is up rubbing his ears on the bedroom carpet, or sometimes his butt and grunting.  He is really a lovely and interesting Terrier, but a lot of vet and med expense and  work for me, maybe that is good to as I'm retired and have nothing to do anyway, witness this diatribe.

The youngest I can remember is when I was about 3 years old, we were living with my maternal grandparents in a rural environment.  This was the period my father was dying and I know that was my age.  I recall him before this time, in the case I remember I was sitting on the front porch and crying when he came home to get sympathy for something my mother had punished me for, the punishment surely due and not violent, maybe harsh words...don't recall.  I can also recall sitting on the kitchen table getting my toe nails trimmed, "one-little-piggy, two-little..." and my mother having to stop to go to the bathroom, an outside toilet.  I was left sitting on the table and I remember becoming frightened because she was gone so long...no memories of the diaper days.   I can remember bringing my two children home.  Come to think of it I was myself born in the home, not in a hospital, that must have been fun form my mother.  While I am an old timer, birth in the hospital was far more common at that time.  She did have a medical doctor assisting with the delivery.  
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Interesting.

From experimenting I have found that induction of dreams is facilitated by very high or low blood sugar levels. The "fasting" conducted by various religions is an attempt to duplicate this. Sublingual B-12 enhances the color in the dreams. You can do so with judicious use of insulin, or alternatively, pigging out on jelly donuts. Most people don't remember their dreams and it is significant that you do.
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I believe melatonin is reduced in the body as one ages.  As a person who is not yet a senior, when I took melatonin, my memory of it was it seemed to give me increased dreams as well as a headache in the morning.
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I have tried melatonin many times, and at a much younger age too.  My work life involved a lot of multi-time-zone travel (International) and I tried melatonin to get to sleep on the airplane and to adjust to the new time zone. I do not recall any significant benefit or problem.  

Over the years I found it easier to just adjust - NYC to Geneva, a 6 hour time change and during the most difficult part of the 24 hour period, became a "piece of cake" if I got a couple hours of sleep on the plane.. that is quit drinking.  As travel expenses got to be a problem I shifted from Business Class to coach where there was nothing to stay awake for, so I slept a little,with our without melatonin.  In those days a typical flight form the New York area was out at 8 PM and arrive about 10 AM, so the night was very short.  That is using East Coast Time, to bed at midnight and up 4 AM, and not sleeping much anyway - ever notice how hard it is sleep in a coach plane seat?  I'm a jumbo size guy, not much overweight, but big.
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Interestingly lately I have been having lucid dreams involving small animals. One dream set with African gray parrots (I used to own one, but the dream has two of them) feeding them and teaching them. Another dream involved cuddling kittens, which I found in the dream and brought home. Birds have always been attracted to me and in the park sparrows will sometimes come and sit on my shoulder and fluff up sleepily, while normally they are skittish and don't go near humans.
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In a lucid dream, do you just observe and let it play its script, or do you inject conscious actions?  

The Dr. LaBerge principle (or the one I took away) is that "why waste this part of our lives spent in sleep when we can learn and enjoy conscious interaction in our dreams?"  This requires more than just waking and remembering in detail a dream just completed (that is vivid dreaming, I believe), it requires that we know we are dreaming while the dream is playing.   He suggests for example taking advantage of the dream to fly --- I can remember dreams in which I could at least hover.  I still remember the physical tightening of my body muscles to cause my body to rise, and to rise higher if I did it again. None of these dreams resulted in a fall or anything frightening, as I recall.  I simply floated back down to the ground if I didn't continue to flex my muscles.  Wings were not involved. This dream has not happened in many years, maybe decades.... but I still remember having them.

As I posted in the Heart Rhythm forum I will wear a recording Oximeter the night of Wednesday/Thursday next.  This was at my request to determine if my own experimenting with my non-recording (just a realtime display) Oximeter that showed some low oxygen saturation levels when I wake in the early hours of the morning - usually a couple hours after I go to sleep at midnight.  I also sometimes have a suffocating minor-panic attack at time when I wake, or when just falling asleep.  I think that is a mental reaction to nasal congestion, not true suffocation as I can breath through my mouth, and as dry mouth would testify to, I do.  
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I inject myself in it. At the risk of being considered a lunatic last nights lucid dream involved me with a robotic rooster and a robotic German Shepherd. It seemed this lab was experimenting to provide android pets to the elderly and these were provided with me to see if I could bond with them. I knew this was a halucination and dream (a fairly enjoyable one), and I remember holding the rooster and feeling the red feathers and having it nibble my fingers, and smelling the fur of the android dog. There was a stream and I "knew" it was a halucination but felt my hand run through the cold rippling water. The "flying in space dreams" are common, as well as levitation dreams. I fully recommend taking advantatge of the dream to explore. If I close my eyes, in ten minutes I end up with a "lucid halucination". I have always been careful not to do anything in a dream to harm anyone, or fire a weapon, or jump off a building.  I always had a nagging suspicion that you can kill yourself in such a dream by imagining you are doing so.
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Yes, caution is best, I think.  One may find out after jumping off a building, there were in fact not dreaming.
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I also stay away from guns and violence in the dreams. Or jumping out of a buiilding. Good advice.
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I underwent a one night recording Oximeter test last week and it was discover that I have brief periods of low (around 85%) blood oxygen saturation levels.  See my post on Oximeter for more information on that subject - see Heart Rhythm Community, post made last night.

This condition has been referred to a Pulmonary specialist who I will see on Thursday.  I had chest x-ray tests made yesterday in preparation for this exam.  

My primary care doctor (physical exam) said the low oxygen may be contributing to my dreaming - and to my complaint about periods of suffocation panic episodes when sleeping.  I though it was related to my congestion problem. I have hope we may get some answers the ongoing work with a pulmonary doctor.  I don't know if this is a board certified field or if it is a "regular" MD who specializes in sleep issues as well.  The practice of three doctors lists themselves also as "critical care".  This is a label I've seen used as an add-on to a board certified specialty.
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I have a psychiatrist friend who ran a sleep lab at Mount Sinai studying dreams a few decades ago. His findings suggested that it was the carbon dioxide levels in the blood that induced dreams and halucinations - not the oxygen levels. There were a number of psychiatrists experimenting in this area, when a death occurred (after deliberately raising C02 levels), which stopped the research. High C02 levels, in addition to producing dreams, stimulate the "near death" experience which includes visions of angels, bright lights and the afterworld.
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I think low oxygen saturation and too high CO2 is the same thing, the lungs are not exchanging CO2 for O2.  

I was examined by a Pulmonary specialist who looked at the X-rays, the good news is there is no sign of lung disease.  But, he did say there was some visible narrowing in my throat in the breathing passage.  Yes, on set of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Growing old takes it tolls.  He diagnosed part of the narrowing is due to obesity.. I have a hard time with that lable, I think I'd have to weight  300 pounds (at about 6' 6") not when I weigh 240+/-.  Still, if losing 25 pounds would give some relief and make it unnecessary to use supplemental oxygen or a CAP mask, I'll try that first.

He prescribed a sleep study which will take place the night of April 17.
  
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