Besides causing jitters and hangovers, Breus says these two increasingly popular vices can mess with sleep quality. Alcohol in particular “obliterates” sleep stages 3 and 4, he explains, which is where most of our dreaming happens. Breus has an interesting perspective on why skipping these stages can be harmful, beyond just making us more tired in the mornings.
He subscribes to the theory that the dream world is where we go to safely process our waking lives. “It’s where people who are upset about something can go to work through those emotions,” he says.
From this perspective, “quarandreaming” is important because it helps us cope with this emotionally loaded time. “It’s kind of like releasing the pressure valve a little in the middle of the night and allowing you to process some of it,” Breus adds. “If you can’t process the emotions you’re having, they become fears, they become phobias, they become irregular behaviors and anxieties.”
To set the stage for dreaming, cut back on the booze and caffeine (especially within the hours leading up to bedtime) and give yourself permission to sleep in every once in a while. REM sleep is extended in the second half of our sleep schedules, so we tend to get more of it when we sleep in for a little longer.