JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Ever wonder why we dream, or what can affect our dreams?   I swear certain medicines make my dreams very weird and kind of whacked out, I wake up wondering what the heck made me dream that?  I decided to do some research into dreaming, and find out some answers.
Dreams are something that have fascinated people for thousands of years, but only recently has it really been put through scientific study.  According to Psychology Today a dream is defined as: "A dream can include any of the images, thoughts and emotions that are experienced during sleep. Dreams can be extraordinarily vivid or very vague; filled with joyful emotions or frightening imagery; focused and understandable or unclear and confusing."  While the exact known cause of dreaming is still yet to be explained, many scientists and psychologists have debated and released many different theories on why.  Ernest Hoffman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, Mass., stated that "...a possible (though certainly not proven) function of a dream to be weaving new material into the memory system in a way that both reduces emotional arousal and is adaptive in helping us cope with further trauma or stressful events."

One person who has researched dreams is Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist.  According to Freud dreams are our own unconscious desires, motivations and thoughts.  These unconscious thoughts and desires are real, but are expressed in our dreams.  I'm not sure how much I agree with this, since some of my dreams I can't imagine ever coming true or wanting to come true.  I guess it depends on the person really.   This is also the case for dreaming in color, as much research as I did into whether people dream in color or not, everyone's answer was different! There was no conclusive evidence either way whether we do or not.  Personally, I think we dream in grays and blacks and whites, and our brain just knows what the colors are so we think we dream in color.

In 1977, J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley first proposed the activation-synthesis model of dreaming.  Which in their theory they stated that "circuits in the brain become activated during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, including the amygdala and hippocampus, to become active. The brain synthesizes and interprets this internal activity and attempts to find meaning in these signals, which results in dreaming. This model suggests that dreams are a subjective interpretation of signals generated by the brain during sleep." 

It seems there are many different theories of how and why we dream, and something that still needs to be researched.  Now, do certain medications affect how and why we dream?  This is one subject I am interested in because, it seems the night I take my Methotrexate, I have some weird dreams.  Nothing too messed up, just something I could never imagine happening, usually I laugh at what they were, but rarely I'll have a really bad dream.  The answer to the question is Yes! Certain medicines can affect our dreams, because it they can affect the stage of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement).  During REM sleep, is normal sleep mode where our eyes rapidly move and when we dream.  Cough syrup can makes dream weird, because they contain alcohol, which alcohol itself can make ones dreams different than normal.  I also found out that Vitamin B supplements are often deemed to cause intense dreaming, especially in people who were not dreaming at all before they started the supplement.  Beta-blockers, tranquillizers and anti-depressants may become a reason for bad dreams, especially if you've recently come off of these. 

If you're having really bad dreams, it could be caused from your medications, withdrawal from a new medication or something known as parasomonia.  Parasomina is a list of different types of sleeping disorders that cause bad dreams, sleepwalking, unnatural movements and behaviors during rest.  If you're having trouble with bad dreams a lot, it is advised to see a doctor about this.  There are lots of medications and supplements that can help make dreams less severe.  I know when I have a bad dream, even if they're not very often, I have trouble sleeping for a while in fear of dreaming like that again.

Research into dreaming is still new and under case studies constantly.  I'm not sure if we'll see any answers anytime soon, but in the meantime we can just hope.  If you're having trouble with dreams, it's good to start a dream journal, write down the medications you take the day before and the next day write down your dreams.  Especially if they're becoming a problem, you may be able to figure out what medication is causing you your bad dreams.  You'll never know until you try.  For now, sweet dreams to all!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic. I have RA. I am a seamstress. My job and my passion is sewing and crafting. I have not been able to do my passion due to my hands and the gross swelling and pain. I am feeling hog tied. I have had many dreams of my checking account being thousands in the red. IT'S NOT MIND YOU, but the dreams make it too real. hmmmmm

I must get this flare under control so I may have dreams of chocolate and walks!!
Gentle hugs and thanks for having me.

April 25, 2011 at 9:57 AM  

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