Lots of pain in my legs and back last week. Some of you know that I have neuropathy in my legs and feet, in large part due to spinal damage caused in a motorcycle wreck. As with many things, some days are worse than others. But I’m pretty sure I know what led to last week’s increase. It had to do with sleep and the role of Vitamin B, particularly B-12 and B-1.
For many years my sleep cycles were extremely regular. I went to bed, fell quickly to sleep, slept an hour, woke up at the end of my dream period, and….repeated the process throughout the night. But in the last year or so my cycles have been shortening. I have frequent periods where I sleep 20 to 30 minutes and then wake up from a dream. I suspected Vitamin B might be partially responsible, since it acts in me somewhat like a stimulant.
I began taking high doses of the vitamin a couple of years ago to help counter the effects of my neuropathy. It works, in large part, I imagine, because Vitamin B can act as a neural growth stimulant. It facilitates the ability of nerves to recover from wear and tear. But, since the changes in sleep cycles seem to have correlated to some extent with my increased intake of “B,” I stopped taking it for a few days to see what would happen.
I seemed to sleep deeper without B but the increase in cramps and pain countered any benefit from that. I began waking up from the pain of the cramps in my legs and feet rather than from the end of a dream period. I went back to taking the vitamin and within a day the cramps had subsided. That was a relief.
I’ve also noticed that I have an upsurge in energy levels when I take Vitamin B, and that is nice during the day but may partially explain the shortening of my deep sleep periods. I have certainly noticed an increase in dream intensity while taking Vitamin B, although I’ve always had intense and vivid dreams since I was a little kid. Unfortunately, increasing dream sleep generally means decreasing deep sleep, which is where we get most of our “rest.”
Monday night, after having returned for a couple of days to my Vitamin B regimen, I had one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had, and those of you who have followed my blog over the years know I’ve had some odd ones. Even my weirdest dreams, however, can usually be traced to recent real-life experiences, such as something I’ve read, or written, or seen in a movie. This dream was, to put it mildly, Freudian. Here it is. Make of it what you will.
I’m in what appears to be a covered canal. The floor looks like cement and there is a trickle of water running down it, but the walls and ceiling are made of rough rock. Though the canal is enclosed and no sunlight can get in, I can still see pretty well. It’s dim but not dark. There’s a clear glow of light coming from some unknown source.
As I venture deeper into the canal, working my way upstream, I come upon a skeleton lying on the rocks to one side of the central water flow. I feel horribly sad for the person who has been lost here, and I decide to pick it up and carry it out of the canal. I turn and start downstream toward the exit with the skeleton in my arms. As I walk along, however, the skeleton begins to reflesh itself. Blood vessels, muscles, and skin begin to reappear on the body. I am untroubled by this and continue on my way.
Soon, I can see a brighter light growing ahead of me and know it is the exit from the canal. As I step out into the light of day, I look down and realize that I’m carrying my fully grown son in my arms. He is sleeping peacefully. I turn and gaze back at the canal. Although it looks physically like no more than a rounded opening into a mountain, I “know” in my head that I’m looking at a womb and that I just “delivered” my son by carrying him out through the birth canal.
OK, so there’s some weirdness to start your day.