An Epidemic of Dream Deprivation: UA Review Finds Unrecognized Health Hazard of Sleep Loss

Sep 26, 2017

A silent epidemic of dream loss is at the root of many of the health concerns attributed to sleep loss, according to Rubin Naiman, PhD, a sleep and dream specialist at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, who recently published a comprehensive review of data.

His review, “Dreamless: the silent epidemic of REM sleep loss” in the “Unlocking the Unconscious: Exploring the Undiscovered Self” issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, details the various factors that cause rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and dream loss. Typical sleep follows a pattern in which deeper, non-REM sleep is prioritized by the body. Only later in the night and into the early morning do people experience dreaming, during REM sleep.

“We are at least as dream-deprived as we are sleep-deprived,” noted Dr. Naiman, UA clinical assistant professor of medicine. He sees REM/dream loss as an unrecognized public health hazard that silently wreaks havoc by contributing to illness, depression and an erosion of consciousness. “Many of our health concerns attributed to sleep loss actually result from REM sleep deprivation.”

The review examines data about the causes and extent of REM/dream loss associated with medications, substance use disorders, sleep disorders and behavioral and lifestyle factors. Dr. Naiman further reviews the consequences of REM/dream loss and concludes with recommendations for restoring healthy REM sleep and dreaming.

For more information about Dr. Naiman’s research, please visit drnaiman.com

For more information about the Integrative Health and Lifestyle program (IHeLp) taught by Dr. Naiman at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, please visit azcim.org/ihelp

About the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

The University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (UACIM) is leading the transformation of health care by creating, educating and actively supporting a community that embodies the philosophy and practice of healing-oriented medicine. UACIM is internationally recognized for its evidence-based clinical practice, innovative educational programs and research that substantiates the field of integrative medicine and influences public policy. Since its creation in 1994, the Center’s vision of making integrative care available to all is being realized worldwide: Center graduates now are guiding more than 1 million patients to take a greater role in their health and healing. To learn more about UACIM, please visit azcim.org or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn)

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