Background on Dreams and the Mind

Dreaming plays a vital role in maintaining physical and mental health. They can be weird and wacky, funny and cute, or a little bit scary. Dream content is unique to your life experience but there are common themes that thread the human subconscious together. We all want the same things out of life, a happy home, health, safety, entertainment, and excitement. Your dreams can provide comfort in times of pain, relief in times of stress, and humor in times of sadness. Your beautiful mind paints pictures in your dreams, follow them to learn more about your inner world.  

Dreams occur during the Rapid Eye Movement REM stages of sleep which is the last cycle of sleep

What is a Dream?

Dreams are hallucinations that you experience during sleep. Although, most people have trouble remembering their dreams it does not mean you did not dream that night. Dreams occur during the Rapid Eye Movement REM stages of sleep which is the last cycle of sleep.   

What Causes Dreams?

It is believed that dreams occur as a response to the daily stimuli you have been exposed to. Dreams are personal to your individual life experience and influenced by your emotions, your desires, and even your diet. Brainstem activation during REM sleep. 'Activation-synthesis hypothesis’ is said to cause dreams.   

Dreaming is said to be like a brain powerwash, cleaning away all the ‘junk files’ it does not need anymore and replenishing vital energy 

Benefits of Dreaming 

A human being who is deprived of sleep becomes irritable, withdrawn, angry, and will suffer hallucinations. Cognitive ability diminishes, learning becomes slower, and motivation will drop.

Sleep is essential in maintaining physical health and mental wellbeing because, during sleep, hormones are stabilized, energy is restored, memories are cataloged and stored, and energy is replenished. There are many ways to analyze dreaming, it can be looked at through a philosophical, spiritual, or physiological eye. 

Dreaming is said to be like a brain powerwash, cleaning away all the ‘junk files’ it does not need anymore and replenishing vital energy. In sleep studies, dreaming has shown to benefit untreated clinical depression. Dreaming is also linked to healthy emotional processing, good short term and long term memory recall, and clear critical thinking.      

Phases of Sleep

Stage 1

This is where you transition from wakefulness to sleep. Brain waves are slowing down and you may drift in and out of consciousness as you drift into stage 2. You will feel drowsy and be easily awakened.

Stage 2-3

During stages 2-3 of sleep, you will be less aware of your surroundings. Your body temperature will drop and breathing and heartbeat are at a more regular rate.   

Stage 4

Breathing and heartbeat are lowest in stage 4 of sleep, physical energy is restored. 

REM Sleep

Rapid Eye Movement is the dream phase of sleep, cognitive processes are strengthened and memories are cataloged in this phase. 


How Long Do Dreams Last?

There is no concept of time when dreaming which is why sometimes a dream can feel like it goes on for just a few seconds or a few hours. Dream recall can be learned with lucid dreaming. The longest dream can last 45 minutes and occurs in the early morning before waking up.  

Nightmares

Nightmares tend to occur in the second half of the night and contain unsettling or upsetting scenes. You may feel anxious and scared but theory suggests nightmares can be beneficial in organizing your thoughts around a stressful event in your life.     

Lucid Dreaming

The function of dreams is to provide a space for you to deal with any stresses in your life. Brain activity during dreams is an important activity as memories are stored, energy is replenished, hormones are regulated. Lucid dreaming puts you in total charge of your dream and can be learned with some practice. You choose where to go, who to meet, and who to talk to in your dream. 

Do Dreams Have Meaning?

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams represent a repressed desire and studying dreams could uncover unconscious needs. Psychologists believe that dreams are a response to a certain type of brain activity. Interpretation of dreams is personal to each individual, sometimes a dream can be silly and out of this world, other dreams can be more poignant to your situation in life. Your dreams are open to your own interpretation and could hold more information about your life than some hidden desires.  

Dreaming During Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)  

Covid-19 nightmares are a normal response to a stressful situation. Covid dreams are becoming more apparent because dreams are closely linked to our waking fears. Natural disasters, seeing wars on the news, and worldwide travesties take a toll on our emotions. It can be difficult to process how to feel about these difficult and challenging situations but weird covid dreams and scary covid-19 dreams can help you approach your feelings and navigate them in a healthy way. 

Conclusion

Threat simulation theory states that dreams are a biological defense mechanism, a rehearsal to increase chances of survival in real-life events. Those living in high-stress environments report more vivid dreams than those living in a safe environment. The theory of dreams differs from person to person but dreaming is a vital component of our physical health and mental wellbeing. During the REM phase of sleep, a lot of bodily processes are recharging and repairing. You may not remember all your dreams but you do dream every night. Write down your dream reports every morning as this can give you a glimpse into what your subconscious is telling you.