Dreaming with the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

Dreaming with the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach by Kelly BulkeleySince August of 2009 I have been using the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach, a new consumer electronics device that allows you to monitor your sleep cycles at home.  It involves wearing a headband with a wireless sensor on your forehead that transmits data to a bedside clock while you sleep.  The Zeo system then calculates the length of your sleep and the contours of your sleep cycle, divided into four stages: waking, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep.  Zeo has a website where you can upload your data and track the patterns over time. 

The motto of Zeo is “The more you know, the better you sleep.”  I was skeptical at first, as I assumed the headband would be uncomfortable and distracting.  Now, after 350+ nights of using the Zeo, I’m convinced it’s true.  I already slept pretty well before using the Zeo, but the information I get from it has made me much more sensitive to factors affecting my sleep, for good and for ill.  Zeo calculates a single number, the “Z Score,” to summarize the overall quality of your night’s sleep.  100 is the baseline and represents a good night’s sleep (calibrated according to your answers in the introductory survey).  A Z score below 100 is a less-than-optimum night’s sleep, and a Z score of 100 or more indicates an excellent night’s sleep.

My worst Z score is 68, the night after hosting a big party at our house.  My best Z score is 125, which came just last week on the first night of a vacation in Mexico.  I seem to average in the high 80s and low 90s during a regular week. 

During this same time period I have, as usual, been keeping a dream journal.  My goal has been to gather at least a year’s worth of Zeo and dream material to work with before trying to correlate the two sources of data.  On a parallel track, I’ve been developing a digital archive and search engine (the Sleep and Dream Database) to provide new analytic tools for engaging in this kind of comparative study. 

So I’m just about ready to address my primary question about the Zeo: Do the patterns of your sleep match up in any way with the patterns of your dreaming?



Dreams in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Dreams in A Midsummer Night's Dream by Kelly BulkeleyA dream researcher friend asked if knew anything about the role of dreams in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” since she could not find any good info on the web.  Here’s my response, which she suggested I post:

One way to think of this play is as a commentary on the glorious folly of love.  Shakespeare is saying that love is like a dream—it radically changes our perception of reality and other people, it compels us to behave in ways that are foolish and irrational, it’s wild and magical and unpredictable, and it ultimately must yield to the sovereignty of the waking social order (as the end of the play makes clear).

After Bottom has returned from donkey to human status he says some funny things about how crazy and unbelievable dreams are, which is extra amusing and paradoxical because we in the audience have just seen that his “dream” of being an ass was indeed real (IV.ii.203-222).

One of the young lovers, Hermia, has an alarming dream about her beloved Lysander smiling cruelly while a serpent bites her breast (II.ii.144-150).  Her dream turns out to be an accurate “threat simulation” reflecting Lysander’s sudden change of heart towards her.

When all the lovers awaken toward the end, they marvel at their strange nocturnal experiences, and say some nice things about sharing dreams with each other (IV.ii.189-202).

Add to this the fact that the play was originally intended to be performed on midsummer’s night, traditionally a “dreamy” celebration of the shortest night of the year, when people stay up and carouse about till dawn.

And in the final lines of the play, the mischievous Puck asks the audience to pretend they’ve been asleep the whole time, dreaming the spectacle before them (V.i.429-430).

All in all, it’s a play that emphasizes the powerful emotional truth of dreaming and the energizing tension between dream desire and waking structure.

Thanks to Justina Lasley of the Institute for Dream Studies!

 

Sleep, Dreaming, and Human Health

Sleep, Dreaming, and Human Health by Kelly BulkeleyDominican University’s Albertus Magnus Society will present a lecture titled “Sleep, Dreaming, and Human Health” by Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. The lecture will be held in Priory Campus Room 263, 7200 W. Division Street, River Forest. The event is free and open to the public.

     Bulkeley will explain how sleep and dreaming are natural processes hard-wired into the human brain, as well as universal portals into religious experience and spiritual insight. He will describe current scientific research on the health benefits of sleep and the evolutionary functions of dreaming. He will integrate these findings with philosophical and religious teachings about the healing power of dreams.

     Established in 2006 by the Siena Center of Dominican University, the Albertus Magnus Society pursues new information and insight in a setting that is both scholarly and congenial, and reflects the Dominican understanding of the compatibility of religion and science. The society was named for Albertus Magnus, patron saint of scientists, and thirteenth century Dominican famed for scientific discoveries and a theology reflective of the emerging science of his day. For more information on the Albertus Magnus Society, please call (708) 714-9105 or visit the website at http://www.dom.edu/ams.