Dreams are one of the most fascinating and mystifying aspects of sleep. From ages humans are fascinated by dreams. Many neuroscientists, psychiatrists, philosophers have tried to unlock the mystery of dreams. But still we all are unable to unlock many secrets of dreams. While everyone dreams, the content of those dreams and their effect on sleep can vary dramatically from person to person. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
#1: What is dream?
A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. It’s just like false awake state.
#2: When we dream?
Dream occurs in deep sleep. The sleep cycle is divided into two parts according to eye movement. We see dreams in rapid eye movement stage. In other stages it can be seen too. Observe a sleeping person. If his/her eyes are moving rapidly after falling asleep, it implies he/she is in a dream.At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable.
#3: Why we dream?
Still we all neuroscientists are blind at this. But many theories are there. Sleep helps in memory consolidation. That’s why dreams help in storage of memory. Another widely accepted fact is that as our amygdala is active in the time of sleep, dreams make us more prepared to untoward events of life. One theory for why we dream is that it helps facilitate our creativity. Artists of all kinds credit dreams with inspiring some of their most creative work.
#4: What happens to our brain and body when we dream?
Dream is just a mimic of awakening. Our body is asleep but brain is in working state. So at that time our brain activity is high. It means if we are running in a dream, our body is in a running mode but without involvement of our bones and muscles.
#5: How long we dream?
The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, and some may have up to seven. Most dreams are quickly forgotten.Dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM.
#6: Do babies dream?
Yes, babies dream much more than adults. It’s because their sleep time is extensive. It implies they have more REM period. Babies spend almost half of their sleep dreaming, while the elderly spend less than a fifth. Even newborn babies smile at the time of sleep. Some babies do suckle at the time of sleep.
#7: Do other animals dream?
Studies have observed signs of dreaming in all mammals studied, including monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, elephants, and shrews. There have also been signs of dreaming in birds and reptiles. The animals have REM sleep stages. Sleeping and dreaming are intertwined. Those organisms who sleep should dream. In real world many of us have seen dogs, cows wave their tails at the times of sleeping.
#8: What are the contents of dream?
Dream consists of variable contents. In the dreams different locations and objects continuously blend into each other. The visuals (including locations, people, and objects) are generally reflective of a person’s memories and experiences, but conversation can take on highly exaggerated and bizarre forms. Some dreams may even tell elaborate stories wherein the dreamer enters entirely new, complex worlds and awakes with ideas, thoughts and feelings never experienced prior to the dream. Some people see dream in black and white. A research says those people who saw black and white TV in childhood, are more prone to black and white dreams.People who are blind from birth, their dream contents are related to other senses.
Sometimes our brain incorporates outside stimulus like phone ringing or urge of urination in the dream to stop us from awakening. So if phone is ringing outside at the time of our sleep, we see phone ringing or dream. If we feel urge of urination in sleep, we dream of urinating and finally urinate in the bed.
#9: What is interpretation of the dream?
Dream interpretation can be a result of subjective ideas and experiences. It differs individually. Many people believe, their dreams give them ideas about future. People give importance to ideas of dream than ideas at the time of awake. Many dreams are so bizzare and random that they don’t have any explanation. But in fact people interpret the dreams according to their comfortability. Several studies have found that dreaming that attribute dream content to memory consolidation, problem-solving, or random brain activity. Sigmund Freud had given extensive hypothesis about dreams in his book of interpretation of dreams.
#10: What is lucid dream?
It’s called awakened dream. It’s a dream which we can manipulate. The dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. Objects disappear after waking. Physical laws need not apply in the dream. The dreamer has a clear memory of the waking world.
Even after 100 years of Freud we have very little knowledge about dreams. Still researches are going on to decode the mysteries of dreams..
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Eichenlaub, Jean-Baptiste; van Rijn, Elaine; Gaskell, M Gareth; Lewis, Penelope A; Maby, Emmanuel; Malinowski, Josie E; Walker, Matthew P; Boy, Frederic; Blagrove, Mark (2018-06-01). “Incorporation of recent waking-life experiences in dreams correlates with frontal theta activity in REM sleep”. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 13 (6): 637–647.