Monday, June 20, 2011
I've been using nicotine patches for a few weeks now. I put one on every morning and everything is fine as long as I take it off about an hour before I go to sleep, and also wash off any residue that's left on my arm. Only problem is, I don't always plan to sleep...it just happens. One minute I'm wide awake, next minute I'm out like a light, still wearing the patch, and not even the sound of my video game controller, TV remote, or book hitting the floor will wake me.
The first time it happened, I dreamed I was attacked by a Rottweiler but it all turned out okay because I bit the dog and it ran away crying. The few seconds between the dog launching itself into the air and it landing on me were pretty scary though.
Last night, it was Switzerland. I was in Switzerland with a friend, smuggling diamonds, getting into fights and running from a blonde woman on a motorcycle who was shooting at us with a rather large nickel plated pistol. Also, my friend was poisoned, so it was a pretty bad scene.
These dreams are extremely vivid, in colour and high definition, and can be recalled perfectly the next day. So I did a little research and discovered that a lot of people are having these dreams if they sleep while wearing a nicotine patch. Some of them think that the dreams are a withdrawal symptom. I doubt that because they don't happen if you're not wearing a patch while sleeping, and there is more withdrawal without it. The dreams are caused by the patch...I think it's because we don't smoke in our sleep. Nicotine entering the bloodstream while you're sleeping is a whole new ballgame. I find this interesting and am wondering what it does to the brain while you're awake.
Could smoking cause fantastical thoughts and anxieties? Could it stimulate the "imaginative" part of the brain? Maybe. We are all familiar with the "smoking writer" - in days past, he pounded away on his typewriter in a blue haze.
Long after typewriters have given way to keyboards, the blue haze remains. I wish we'd kept the typewriters and ditched the tobacco. Christopher Hitchens (my second-favourite author after Stephen King) has esophageal cancer because he smoked for so many years. The heavy drinking didn't help either, but that's another topic. Do you have to smoke to write? I doubt it, but I wonder why so many writers do it. They'd be better off putting on a nicotine patch and going to sleep instead!
Smoking costs us so much. It costs us people, and everything they could have shared with the world had they lived longer. I guess quitting is worth a few weird dreams.
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