Why depressed people dream more
Extended dreaming is exhausting, not just because it deprives us of restful and restorative slow-wave sleep (that should make up three-quarters of our sleep time), but also because it over stimulates the orientation response. This is the same expectation pathway in the brain that we need in the daytime to focus our attention on getting things done – it generates our motivation to do things and keeps us interested in life.
The sleep imbalance depressed people suffer from is why, despite sleeping for a long time after a stressful day, we can wake up still feeling tired and unmotivated.
Exhaustion on waking and lack of motivation are features common to all depressed people and the reason is this:
Depressed people dream more intensely and for longer periods because their brain is having to deal with an overload of arousals caused by excessive worrying.
It is always worrying about innate needs not being met in a person’s life that leads to depression. Go to the cycle of depression page to see more about this.
Our normal sense that life is meaningful comes from the actions we take but when our motivation levels are lowered because of over-dreaming, life can quickly come to seem meaningless. The natural delight we take in being alive and actively involved doing things drains away. This explanation alone is often enough to empower a depressed person to take charge of their life again and start to break the cycle of depression.