dreams, or the lack thereof

Patrick Aditya Sitanggang
4 min readOct 3, 2023

A lot of us have seen a series that we inadvertently obsess about. Whether it’s a random find, a recommendation from a friend, or something currently on trend. I have recently found such a thing myself, although the “obsession” comes at a more unorthodox reason.

A friend of mine recommended me a series on the Red N; a Neil Gaiman property that is praised and revered by those in the know, underrated in its ties to a greater universe, and, as the series was launched, divisive at best. The series is about the personification of dreams and his quest to restore his dominion after being mistakenly held captive for about 100 years, traveling to various realms to retake the tools containing his powers. That series is The Sandman.

The cast of The Sandman, with the titular character in the middle. Image taken from https://wall.alphacoders.com/big.php?i=1259055

The Sandman, or Lord Morpheus, or Dream of The Endless, is the personification and embodiment of dreams and nightmares, and also the human imagination; ruling over The Dreaming, a place where every human goes to in their sleep. He has three tools of power: a pouch of sand, a helmet, and a ruby necklace. He’s responsible for ensuring that humans dream, good or bad, as humans will always dream as it allows them to fulfill their need for imagination.

The Endless itself is a “team” of seven “siblings”, each one of them fulfills their function as embodiments of the natural forces within human beings. They exist, in essence, because of humankind and not the other way around, making them servants of the living. Dream once said, “We exist because they know, deep in their hearts, that we exist.

Without spilling more than necessary, I encourage you to watch it. Watching The Sandman, I’m fascinated by The Endless and their functions towards humankind. I have had my share of experience with all of them: I’ve tried to set my Destiny, I’ve faced and encountered Death, I’ve seen and done my fair share of Destruction, I’ve had Desire take over me, I’ve had Despair engulf me, and I’ve felt Delight that transformed into Delirium. Yet, in all that, I’ve never, more like barely, experienced Dream.

I don’t dream. Not in the “I have no goals or aspirations in life” sense, but in the “dreams don’t occur to me when I sleep.” In my 26 years of living, I rarely dream in my sleep. Whether it’s a good dream or a bad nightmare, it just doesn’t happen. I can probably count how many times I’ve experienced a dream, although I remember close to nothing about the details of it. The loss of detail is something common, but the lack of dreams? I find that unusual.

I don’t exactly know why I don’t dream. Before watching The Sandman, I never really gave the reality of not having dreams much thought. It didn’t bother me. After the series, however, I started to question why. Why don’t I dream? What’s the issue? Is there something going on with how I sleep, or is it a more psychological thing?

I track my sleep with my phone and smartwatch. With this information, I’m able to see insights about how I rest each night. One of the things I’ve been looking at ever since I watched The Sandman is my REM sleep stage. REM sleep, as my very quick research told me, is a stage in your sleep characterized by the random rapid movement of the eyes and this stage is the stage where dreams happen most often.

Latest data of my sleep cycle.

I’ve noted that I average about 20–30% of my sleep cycle on REM sleep. The number does match the expected required for a healthy sleep. However, I do have a low sleeping time average, as I typically sleep about 6 hours every night. Added to that, I have fewer sleep cycles than the required and suggested amount (this is apparently what my Samsung Health tells me). I wonder if that has anything to do with it, or if I cannot just dream.

Maybe it’s something else. As I said earlier I do have a lack of sleep compared to the necessary amount, but does that signal some sort of sleep disorder? Perhaps. It may be just me having too little sleep for my own needs. It may also be due to stress. If it is stress, then it’s a very dark conclusion that I’ve been stressed out my whole life, or perhaps depressed, or other mental conditions.

Then again, what is the point of dreaming in your sleep? A quick search of the question on the all-knowing Google suggests that the purpose of dreams is still not fully understood. It serves as an emotional regulator for the things happening in our lives; as a fight-or-flight training due to the connection of the amygdala and its association with dealing with threats; as a way to facilitate our creative tendencies since there are no logic filter; and as memory aides, to help us remember things easier or forget unimportant things. Nightmares work the same way but are affected by stress and anxiety.

I’d like to think that I can dream, be it a good one or a nightmare. I’m curious as to what it feels like to experience one and be able to talk about it or wonder what it all means. I yearn to go to The Dreaming, to meet the dreams and nightmares of the world. I yearn to meet Morpheus, to see the glory of his helmet, the glisten of his ruby, and to let his sand engulf me, transporting me to and from his domain.

Thanks for reading, trust no one, and see you in the next post

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Patrick Aditya Sitanggang

I tend to write about once a month or every two months. Bear with me. Follow me on IG @aditbatak or on Twitter/X @alsopadraic.