The human brain does not rest, even when we sleep. Because of this, we see dreams – good and bad, close to reality, logical or quite fantastic and absurd.
In ancient times, dreams were considered encrypted messages from another world, containing information about the future. “Competent” people (priests, shamans, etc.) helped decipher them, and over time dreambooks appeared. Almost everyone has some sort of dream, although not all of us remember them. Usually we dream about people, places, events and phenomena that we had to deal with in some way.
What are dreams – some theories
Sigmund Freud believed that the subconscious communicates with us through dreams. Man sees in them repressed desires and hidden aspirations. Sometimes it is an accurate picture, and sometimes it is hidden in symbols. Freud believed that discussing dreams with a psychotherapist can help solve a person’s inner psychological problems. He even wrote a book in which he described the typical symbols found in dreams, as well as their meaning
Dr. John Hobson, on the other hand, claimed that dreams carry no semantic load. He studied exactly how dreams are formed from a physiological point of view. The results showed that random signals from the brainstem contribute to the vision of plausible reality. The brain tries to interpret random impulses in some way and arranges them into specific plots. It often takes our memories as its basis.
There are also many proponents among psychiatrists of a theory that says that the brain systematizes memories during sleep, and as they move from short-term memory to long-term memory, they may be partially activated and we see dreams as a result. Thus, sleep may be a consequence of the brain’s “night work”.
Phases of sleep – NREM and REM
The NREM phase is the stage with slow eye movements. It is divided into 4 stages:
- stage 1 – the body prepares to go into deep sleep, incoherent thoughts appear;
- stage 2 – muscles relax, temperature and pulse decrease, metabolism slows down. At this stage, perception is heightened and it is easy to wake someone up;
- stage 3 – is a short stage of transition into full deep sleep, where brain activity gradually decreases;
- stage 4 – deep sleep, during which we can talk or walk in our sleep, we also have dreams, but we do not remember them. Stage 4 is intertwined with the REM phase.
In the NREM phase, new cells appear, tissues are repaired, and energy is stored for the next day. The second phase of sleep is called REM because of the increase in brain activity similar to the waking state, but all muscles are maximally relaxed and do not move. Only rapid eye movement, increased temperature, accelerated heart rate and uneven breathing are observed. During this phase, we see dreams that we can partially remember.
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Why do we need sleep?
Sleep was once thought to be necessary for the rest of the brain and the whole body, but today it is seen as a mechanism of self-regulation of the body. In the sleep state, memories are systematized, the psyche is relieved, stress levels are reduced, cells are renewed and waste is excreted.
Lack or deficiency of sleep leads to decreased immunity, increased susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems. A person who does not sleep continuously for two days has a poor sense of well-being and experiences clouding of consciousness, and after prolonged periods without sleep, visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, incoherence of speech, decreased thought processes, and severe exhaustion of all body systems occur. Ten or more days without sleep can lead to complete sensory loss and death.
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