Dreams still remain a mystery. Although nowadays we know a lot about this fascinating yet troubling issue, some questions remain unexplored. We are trying to explain where dreams come from and why we dream.
Dreams have fascinated since the dawn of mankind. Some find in them predictions of the future, for others they are just remnants of everyday problems. There were also artists who found inspiration for their outstanding works in dreams. Intensively studied by scientists, dreams are still not completely understood and described. Neuroscientists point out that moving images in our heads appear during the REM sleep phase, which is associated with rapid eye movement.
Phases of sleep
Sleep is divided into two phases:
- NREM – a phase in which there is slow eye movement and delta waves of electrical activity of the brain appear,
- REM – the phase of sleep with rapid eye movements, in which we most often dream. The muscles completely relax.
There are four stages in the NREM phase:
- stage 1 – the moment before falling asleep itself, when we are already lying down with our eyes closed and have incoherent thoughts, and awareness of external stimuli decreases. Slow eye movements appear;
- stage 2 – is characterized by a lack of response to external stimuli, the eyeballs do not move, but it is still easy to wake up;
- stage 3 – deep sleep begins. Muscles relax, blood pressure decreases. This is a time of intense rest for the body.
The NREM stage lasts about 80-100 minutes, followed by the REM stage, which lasts about fifteen minutes. In adults, the whole cycle is repeated four or five times.
What are dreams? Where do they come from?
Dreams can be described as visions that appear in our mind when we sleep. We have no control over them. Dreams can consist of a series of unrelated images or, on the contrary, they can present a story with a narrative and logic of events. They are often accompanied by strong emotions and even sensory impressions, such as sensory sensations. Daydreams can be pleasant or frightening, sometimes they seem very realistic or resemble a fantasy film. They may or may not concern the dreamer’s current problems, as well as his desires or fears.
Scientists now believe that dreams are formed in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and emotions. Although the body rests and recovers during sleep, the brain is working all the time. During the REM phase, information is processed and consolidated – and this is when dreams are formed.
The role and importance of dreams
One theory attempting to explain why we dream is that dreams are representations of our unconscious desires and wishes. They may also represent an interpretation of random signals from the brain and body that occur during nighttime rest, or information gathered by the brain during the day.
As a result of the research, scientists have come to several conclusions. Dreams certainly allow us to process memory processes by combining what we already know with what we have learned. Dreams can also be a cognitive simulation of real life experiences, a reflection of our daily thoughts and reflections. Their important role is also that they help achieve psychological balance by providing space for overwhelming and conflicting information. Despite intensive research for many years, researchers have not succeeded in determining whether dreams mean anything and whether they are necessary for humans.
main photo: pixabay.com/Claudio_Scott