Bedtime Stories

Sweet Dreamers

I was fascinated by the varied responses to my comment in my most recent Friday Fragments that I need to take care what I read before bed, because it will have an impact on my dreams.  As I’ve mentioned before, I dream very vividly, enough that I’ve been known to occasionally double check with Jim whether or not something actually happened or if I just dreamed it.

Most of the time, I don’t mind having such an active nightlife.  I’ve written stories based on dreams and figured out plot elements while I’m ostensibly sound asleep.  Sometimes, though, especially when I’m stressed, my dreams turn into nightmares.

Soon after we set up housekeeping, Roger Zelazny commented that he’d never seen anyone have as many nightmares as I did.  He promptly went out and purchased me the largest dreamcatcher he could find.  It still hangs by my bed, but I can’t say I’ve seen any influence on my tendency toward dreams and nightmares.

What is more effective is moderating what I read before turning out the light.  If I’m already stressed – as I will admit to being these days – I need to be particularly careful.  I had to put aside The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate for daytime perusal because the mood of tension that pervaded the book (pretty much every adult is either against Callie Vee’s aspirations or clueless) and the frequent death-of-pet chapters (interspersed with the odd dissection or so) gave my subconscious too much food for unpleasant thought.

Re-reading can work better for before bed because, even if a plot becomes tense I can reassure myself that I know how it works out.  Books with wonderful language also can be good bedtime reading.  It’s as if my subconscious fastens on the prose, independent of the content.  Poetry is a “sometimes,” but not often.  Sometimes I’ll read graphic novels or manga.  The illustrated format can sow seeds for interesting dreams .

I don’t read anything that’s meant to be scary, unsettling, or that might stimulate too much thought and keep me from drifting off.  I don’t read anything that’s directly tied to work or research for the same reason.

Do any of you read before going to bed or had that gone the way of the television and electronic device?  If so, I’m curious about whether you read before going to bed and, if so, what gives you the best sort of dreams.

Oh…  What am I reading before bed now?  Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade!

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9 Responses to “Bedtime Stories”

  1. Dawn Barela Says:

    I have been reading more lately and frequently in a long bath before bedtime. It does sometimes create dreams. But lately, I know I have dreams. But I haven’t been able to remember details most of the time lately. Which is very frustrating, I used to be able to recall them in great detail. I have a radio next to my bed and it is always on. I have had dreams that I remember that are from the music more often than from what I have been reading. I am a big time music addict. I often wake to favorite songs or artists on the radio. That may be why I remember those dreams more often.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Music and sound also work their way into my dreams!

      • Dawn Barela Says:

        One of the dreams I had was of my sister when she was young and a competitive gymnast. The dream was of her practicing her floor routine. She would push all the living room furniture out of the way and do her dance steps and talk out her tumbling runs. It was a very clear and vivid memory dream. I woke up from it to hear the end of Elton John’s Funeral for a Friend as it segued into Love Lies Bleeding. Funeral for a Friend was her floor music.

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    I’m a very avid reader. I always fall asleep with a book or my e-book reader in my hands (sometimes bonking myself in the face). I don’t remember ever having a dream about what I’m reading. I do have very vivid, very colorful dreams. Sometimes I wake up feeling more tired from very active dreams.

    I do remember being very afraid to go to sleep after seeing the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie when it came out back in the 80s. The concept of being attacked in dreams terrified me.

  3. Sara Says:

    The most prevalent memory of a book infecting/informing my dreams was my first read-through of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I was on the fourth book I think, The Shadow Rising, and there were elements in the very beginning where the dark forces at work were described in detail. I had nightmares that night of vague monsters and assassins and dread roaming through the land, to the point where I woke up in a cold sweat. I couldn’t pick the book back up for weeks. Maybe months. I know I took a break after that. I still read them before bed now though, and sometimes they influence my dreams, but thankfully they’re mostly pleasant.

  4. Harried Harry Says:

    I read almost every day, but especially at night. I haven’t found much to watch on TV for the past ten years or so. Some books are worth reading numerous times, especially Louis L’Amour, but I also like old friends like David Weber and all his storylines. Louis B. McMasters series about Penric are really great to read before I go to bed since they are somewhat light hearted, well written and filled with humor.

    When I dream, they are very colorful but sometimes they are very dark which I’m sure dates back to my time in the Army. This is one reason why I seldom read dark stories like Steven King writes. I enjoy science fiction and have since I first read Jules Vernes’ 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. Since I drink dastardly stuff like tea and hot chocolate, I need to control my intake so I don’t stay awake all night.

    Enjoy your time and writing. (Oh, I finally finished picking my pecans; the price is so low it almost wasn’t worth it, but the proceeds will allow me to pay for the repairs on my Jeep.)

  5. karencomics Says:

    I read every night before bed; it helps me get to sleep because I continue the story in my mind. turning over bits that I’ve read trying to work out what the characters are going to do next. And because I wake up several times each night, I stitch together the sleep periods with remembered bits of dreams or the story I’m currently reading. I have really vivid and entertaining dreams, epics sometimes, which I get up and write down in the morning.

    I also have nightmares; I have a very impressionable imagination and can’t watch a lot of movies and TV shows (I first noticed that I was getting really scary nightmares from watching the X-files at a friend’s house — hardly ever had a TV of my own). Can’t read horror or really tense books either. I wake my hubby up with the screaming. But most of my nightmares lately seem to be triggered by imminent travel or big events; usually they involve trying to gather up a bunch of stuff that won’t stay gathered, or herding tiny animals that won’t stay herded. They’re funny when I wake up, but not while I’m in them!

    Favourite bedtime reading: Things in series that I can really get into the world. Terry Pratchett, Lois McMaster Bujold’s several worlds, Diana Wynne Jones (I really like kids’ fantasy)… I tend to binge on one author at a time, and now, guess what, I’m re-reading the Firekeeper series, after reading and re-reading most of your other books! Which is what led me to this blog. Thanks for the stories and the good dreams!

    • janelindskold Says:

      I’m glad Firekeeper and my other works are “good dream” places for you. Have you tried Asphodel? It’s newer and very dreamlike. I also like kid’s fantasies. Diana Wynne Jones is a special favorite.

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