During my coaching conversations I ask about sleep and dreaming. The answer to these questions are import because they can indicate a lot about a persons level of stress, their readiness for change, and they uncover a lot about unfulfilled expectations. This is not an opinion that is supported by a lot of scientists so I accept that I’m flirting with pseudo-science here.
Sleep is important for recovery. 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is critical for most people to push reset on their brain and bodies, consolidate their daily memories and repair their muscles, joints and nervous systems from their daily activity. If there has been a change in sleeping patterns recently, or if someone isn’t getting sufficient amounts of uninterrupted sleep, we’ll try to unpack the reasons for it. Usually the things that wake someone up in the middle of the night tend to reflect some unresolved conflict or identity issue that needs to be resolved.
I have notices that during times of unrest / upheaval, someone may begin to dream a lot more. After my dad died, I experienced months of vivid clear and memorable dreams the likes of which I had never and have never again experienced. Again, the scientists cannot make any claim about the cause, but anecdotally there seems to be a connection to changes in dream patterns and life or transformational stress.
The key reason why I’ll ask people about there dreams though is to help build rapport and to give my clients the opportunity for some introspection. Last night I had a dream that I was one of the characters in the television show “The Walking Dead”. It felt real and I was filled with a sense of despair that one of the walkers was going to get me. Now I know that it is fiction and has no baring on my real life, so it was a random experience that brain cultivated, right? Well, maybe not. I have been spending a lot of time reading about the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. It is possible that my brain, in an attempt to consolidate some of what I have learned, integrated some of the Ebola information into a freaky dream about zombies and imminent death if they get you.
Since there is no universal mean of dreams, we are free to interpret them however seems most fitting. This is a great way to get people to talk about the things that are on their mind. When they interpret a dream, they tend to do so using the information that is immediate available to them at the time. Often times, they’ll attribute the dream to something that they didn’t speak about before, but that is having a big impact on their progress. Even if the scientists are correct and that dreams are meaningless, the conversation and insight that that the dream analysis can be valuable. Given that the goal of training is to move the client forward, I’ll use any ethical means available.