Spring Sale! | Up to $1,000 off + FREE Pillows on select mattresses








Award Icon
Rated No 1 Mattress for Side SleepersLearn More
Background on Dreams and the Mind

Background on Dreams and the Mind


Aoife O
May 03, 2021

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 dreams 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.  

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.  

Most dreams occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage 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.  

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A human being who is deprived of sleep becomes irritable, withdrawn, angry, and will suffer hallucinations.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.

Stages 2-3

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.

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 assessing how long do dreams last, 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 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. When looking at lucid dream meaning, you are 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. Conversely, even though sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are both dissociated experiences related to REM sleep, during sleep paralysis you have no control of your body.

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

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. 


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.

For the best night of restful sleep, shop the Nolah Natural 11.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.

You May Also Like These Articles

What Is Lucid Dreaming?

What Is Lucid Dreaming?

Imagine a world where you’re in control. You write the story and set the scenery. For some people, that’s what it’s like to have a lucid dream.
Read more
11 Common Dreams and What They Mean

11 Common Dreams and What They Mean

That confusing dream you had is trying to tell you something. Unravel the mystery in 11 common dreams, interpreted.
Read more
Dream Series: Interpreting Dreaming of Illness

Dream Series: Interpreting Dreaming of Illness

What does it mean to dream of being sick? Dreaming of being ill typically means you’re low on energy, craving affection, or need some human interaction.
Read more

Featured Articles

Ready for Bed?

People in Bed Icon Mobile Top Decorations
Shop Mattresses Now

with Free Shipping and 120-Night Trial

People in Bed Icon Mobile