Common Dream Symbols – Pt. 1

Isnake2t’s been established that I’m not big on symbols in dreams.  Visual representations mean different things to different people.  Only you can really determine what these elements mean to you, but here are some suggestions for further self-exploration.

I grabbed a few items from a list of 30 Common Symbols:
Animals are common elements in dreams. Depending on how you feel about an animal, the meaning may vary. Some people are terrified of snakes while others think they’re pretty and keep them as pets, so your interpretation of the symbol really depends on your relationship with the animal or the interaction you’re having with it in the dream. Even something you normally love can have a frightening presence in a dream. It’s suggested that the primal dream of being chased by an animal represented repressed fear, which is understandable.

Babies. Oh boy, there’s a topic for ya! Going back to the animal symbols, I’ve been told that dreams of fish represent desire for children, but I have seriously no desire for children. Babies in your dream could be literal, or they could represent how you feel personally or about someone else. Perhaps you feel you have needs that aren’t being met, or on the other hand you feel like you’re being called upon for caring/nurturing. Babies may also signify a new beginning (though they also say that about death in a dream).

Exams are a form of evaluation. If you felt unprepared for the exam, consider the subject. Perhaps there is something you need to work on. I often have dreams that I’ve returned to school only to realize I haven’t attended my math class in months and I’m sure I’ll fail the class. The exam doesn’t necessarily have to be a school subject, but it could reveal some feelings of inadequacy (even if it’s all in your head and you’re actually brilliant in the subject).

Falling is a really common element. It might wake you up clutching your sheets, but sometimes it doesn’t startle you awake. If you dream of prolonged falling it might actually signify letting go of things in your life that bring you stress. Adversely, it may also represent some perceived failure or fall from success.

Houses in dreams can take the form of any place you’ve been in your life, someplace entirely new, or some strange combination of places. You might find yourself inside your best friend’s childhood room, then walk out the door into a convenience store. However your mind is trying to tie these things together, what you’ll want to pay attention to are the things you associate with those places. Grandma’s kitchen might make you feel happy and welcome, but what’s with the museum in the hallway? Well, it really depends on how you feel about museums. If your grandmother has passed away quite some time ago, that could be relevant, and you’re simply wishing to reminisce about that time in your life.

Yes, I will return with more symbols like teeth falling out, tornadoes and floods, public nudity…all that fun stuff.

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is disrupted. A pause in breathing from 10 seconds to several minutes is called an apnea, and when this occurs 5+ times per hour, there is cause for concern. Alternately, very shallow breathing is referred to as hypopnea. An overnight oxymetry test can be administered to check for periods of low blood-oxygen levels that might indicate a need for a more comprehensive study called a polysomnogram. These tests measure the oxygen and pulse like the preliminary test, but also measure brain activity, eye movement, muscle activity, and heart rhythm.

Sleep apnea comes in different forms. The most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the one we associate with snoring, and it is caused by a true physical blockage of airflow. Less common is Central Sleep Apnea which is actually due to weak respiratory function. The brain’s control centers do not respond quickly enough. It’s difficult to say whether obesity is a cause or a symptom, because the daytime sleepiness caused by lack of restful sleep at night can exacerbate an already sedentary lifestyle. Another important factor may be thyroid function, as low thyroid function can lead to decreased energy levels too. This could be the factor that sets obesity and apnea into self-perpetuating cycle. In order to break the cycle, you will have to tackle all three things at once; get your thyroid regulated with supplemental medication, establish and maintain a regular exercise plan, and in extreme cases you may need to use a breathing mask at night to help you stay asleep and feel rested enough to get through your busy day.

Some daytime problems caused by sleep apnea (besides fatigue) include slowed reaction, vision problems, memory and learning difficulties, attention deficit, mood swings/depression, liver disease, and insomnia or sleep paralysis. Sleep apnea is more common in men, elderly people, and people who are obese, though it can happen to anyone. The problem is usually first noticed by a partner or spouse who has difficulty sleeping due to the loud snoring. Some suggested methods for dealing with sleep apnea and snoring include avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and muscle relaxers, losing weight, and sleeping with your upper body elevated or on your side. You can even do tongue exercises to strengthen the muscles if that is the cause of the obstruction. In severe cases, breathing machines or even corrective surgery may be necessary. A CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) provides a steady flow of oxygen throughout the night, while surgery involves tightening soft tissue in the airway (tonsils, uvula, and the surrounding tissue). Both can end up being very expensive, so weight loss and other lifestyle adjustments are highly recommended as preventative measures.

Sleep apnea is also associated with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and auto accidents. If you can prevent or avoid it by simple tweaks like walking, eating healthier foods, or cutting back on drinking, the benefits are tremendous.
You can check out the results of my oxymetry test here.

Overnight Oximetry Results

I had my follow-up appointment last Thursday and I requested to have a printout of my overnight oximetry test so I could post it for you fine folks! The cough is much better. Lung sounded fine and the nurse practitioner was not terribly concerned about any residual issues. She said this may be a thing I deal with in my life, that I get a lung infection and then my airways are constricted and not all of the junk makes its way out. She said I could just tell my doctor some prednisone as a follow-up to antibiotics would do the trick to clear me up. That’s fine by me as the stuff is much cheaper than asthma medicine. She was reluctant to call is asthma anyway.

So on with the sleep test. They wanted to check (since I’m a big girl) if my airflow was cut off during the night at all. Sleep apnea is a very serious thing. It can lead to grogginess during the day when focus is necessary, making it dangerous to drive or operate machinery. It can cause morning headaches and relative to that cause some brain damage.

Test date: 06/23/13
Start: 00:09:55
End: 08:08:07
Highest pulse: 112
Lowest pulse: 58
Mean pulse: 76
Highest SpO2: 99%
Lowest SpO2: 87%
Mean SpO2: 94.9%
Time with SpO2<90% 0:01:04 0.2%
Longest continuous time with saturation = 10 sec & <= 3 mins was 49.4 sec. Desaturation event index (events per hour) 4.4

pulseox

The nurse said they were not really concerned with the results, because the events per hour were less than 7, and I only spent about a minute with oxygen levels below 90% out of almost 8 full hours of sleep. It’s still a consideration for the future, but doesn’t require immediate attention. What I absolutely love about this readout is that you can see the 90 minute cycles of sleep. Maybe someday just for kicks I’ll have a full polysomnogram, because I think it would be very interesting to have a personal account of how these figures tie together. I’ve never had an EEG, but they fascinate me.