Friday, 21 November 2008

Nightmares are subjective.

The chewed skeleton of the dog was later found behind the gazebo.

I have always believed that it's actually a physical impossibility to "wake up screaming" from a nightmare - apparently the salivary glands radically slow production while you're asleep, in order to stop you (sorry if you're eating) drowning in your own spit. This explains why you can tell if somebody is pretending to be asleep because you can hear them swallow, and why you often wake up with a dry mouth. I have had my share of nightmares, and more often than not wake up wheezing rather than screaming - more like the noise of a cat dealing with a furball than a full-throated Hollywood AAAAAIIIEEEEEEE. Imagine my surprise when the other night I was woken by an almost Niles Crane style of shriek ("No, Daphne, that wasn't your mother screaming...") from the slumbering Mr Fishwife. It later transpired he had had a nightmare in which Esther Rantzen was chasing him, with a spear, down a long corridor which also happened to be his grandmother's back garden. Just when he thought it was safe and was hiding behind a shed, she emerged again, this time with a pair of shears. Now what this experience has taught me is (a) the logic of nightmares is random to say the least, (b) maybe I'm wrong about the salivary thing, and (c) people who scream in your ear at 4 in the morning can really disturb your sleep.

18 comments:

Steve said...

I have occassionally woken up shouting - usually the word "Nooooo!" cried in a suitably Hollywood style crescendo - as if I were witnessing a car crash or a man falling off a cliff.

I dream about my workplace quite a lot.

Lucy Fishwife said...

I have never been able to scream - although, as I say, I wake up gagging and flailing like someone choking on a piece of meat in a restaurant. Exactly like the mayor of Punxsutawney in "Groundhog day", in fact. Maybe it's just me? I very rarely dream about work, although my most boring dreams tend to involve long strings of ISBN numbers. When I worked for an airline I knew it was time to leave when I started dreaming in three-letter city codes. My worst nightmares aren't the dreary purgatorial ones, they're the "But that's just WRONG!" ones - where the floor tiles turn out to be your mother, or your left hand's just a little too big...

mantua maker said...

I agree with what you say about randomness. Sometimes Pr. will talk in his sleep but it's usually something like "No, that should go in a footnote". Occasionally he'll say something more intriguing such as "He's gone to the court of the emperor". Once he did his leg-kicking thing then woke up and said that otters had just stolen his trousers, made a nest with them in the garden and wouldn't give them back. Now where did that come from?

My Dad shouts in his sleep, always has done - maybe it's a man thing?

Lucy Fishwife said...

Mr F does a lot of kicking and arm-thrashing. I believe it's called "a myoclonic twitch" but I prefer to think of it as "chasing rabbits"... Why did the otters steal Prof MM's trousers?? Best not to ask really. Must be the quality of your needlework.

mantua maker said...

"a myoclonic twitch" - ah it has a name - I'd wondered if it did. The trouble is, if he does one little twitch, the whole bed shakes and I'm bounced up and down. And then I'm wide awake.

I like "chasing rabbits" - give it an ancient quality. I have to sleep on Pr's left side as he says his right side is his "sword side".

Lucy Fishwife said...

Oh my God, he actually IS Ivanhoe, isn't he. Maybe he just wants some chain mail, then the otters can't steal it. The thrashing is often (I believe) a sublimated desire of Mr F's to cuff me lightly round the head when I'm breathing on him.

Brother Tobias said...

I'm not sure my salivary glands slow up that much: I'm quite capable of drooling after a night out. Most other vital functions also seem to be active, including running and knocking over glasses of water. I am less active than my brother-in-law, however, who has been known to hammer on the walls muttering, "The Germans are coming".

Reluctant Blogger said...

I do scream in my sleep. Not that I remember but people have told me. I also try to hit people. Not often I hasten to add. So I don't know about the salivary gland thing but I do have a stone in mine so maybe that is why I can scream? Every now and then my stone blocks my gland and my face swells up. Not a good look! But I am too much of a baby to have the operation to have it removed.

I have horrible nightmares but I am thankful that none of them have involved Esther Rantzen or her mishapen carrots.

Caerphilly sounds jolly nice to me. I am drinking Gluhwein this evening as we have snow!

Lucy Fishwife said...

BT - apparently the decreased salivary thing only happens in deep sleep, which is why you drool. Especially on trains, on the shoulder of the total stranger next to you. I have been known to sit up and very tidily whip-crack the duvet, sending the cat flying across the room, while totally asleep.

RB- Gosh you learn a new and interesting medical fact every day. I didn't know it was possible to have salivary stones! Mind you I used to get odd travelling lumps in my earlobes so anything's possible. It's balancing how inconvenient the operation would be against how depressing the occasional swelling is, isn't it. If it's not remotely life-threatening don't bother!
I've finished the Caerphilly but may hit the cheese shop this lunchtime. Save me some gluhwein!

The Dotterel said...

Never mind the noise or the lack of sleep - more worrying is the Freudian interpretation of that dream! Seperate bedrooms?

Lucy Fishwife said...

I would definitely be suggesting separate bedrooms if I looked any more like Esther Rantzen than I do! I find a swift and well-placed kick (while he's still asleep) followed by a soothing hand on the fevered brow (while he's conscious) works a treat.

Rol said...

I hate that twitch thing. And that thing where you wake up thinking someone has just shouted your name - but there's no one there.

Or is that just me?

Lucy Fishwife said...

No, I've had that name thing too! Maybe it's a commonly-recognised psychosis. Or maybe it's a long-suffering other half bellowing at you to stop snoring.
My worst twitch-substitute was at the point of just about dropping off (where you'd normally have the twitch) I had what felt like a BZZZZZZT electric shock in my back molars. I felt like one of those mad old gits in the Mojave desert who pick up UFO signals on their fillings.

mantua maker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mantua maker said...

That twitch when you're about to fall asleep, that feels like you've just fallen off a pavement - somebody told me that was your heart missing a beat. But then I asked my cargiologist brother and he said no no and just laughed, but I still don't know what it is.

Perfumeshrine said...

Poor you, two. (((there,there)))

Seriously, I have nightmares in which the plot's punchline is I am panicky on how I cannot scream to save my life. Therefore very willing to believe your assumptions!
Dreaming in three-letter city codes fortunately hasn't entered the equation or I'd have died of boredom in my sleep: I can see why you left.

Lucy Fishwife said...

MM- it's definitely not cardiac. Apparently it's an involuntary muscular twitch (hence the "myo-" prefix) whose origin remains a mystery... I think of it as "falling off a cliff" when it's me and, as I've said, "chasing rabbits" when it's Mr F. When the cats do it I imagine they're dreaming about disembowelling smaller animals with their hind legs...

Helg - Hi hon! Yes my nightmares too revolve around not being able to scream. I often wake up with the aforementioned gagging wheeze clutching at Mr F's arm. I left my airline job in late 2000 and still occasionally dream of three-letter codes. Also when I'm looking at car numberplates. And I can still remember the Montreal phone number of the apartment we lived in when I was 6. Luckily my olfactory memory has a long way to go before I fill it!!! Currently test-running Tabac Blond (not at work though)

Titian red said...

Re singing, is Gordon alive then ?