Dreams are a universal human experience that can be described as a state of consciousness characterized by sensory, cognitive and emotional occurrences during sleep.In simple words, a dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. During a typical lifespan, a person spends a total of about six years dreaming. Most dreams last only 5 to 20 minutes. They can be entertaining, fun, romantic, disturbing, frightening, and sometimes bizarre.
Blind people dream more with other sensory components compared with sighted people.
Phases of Sleep –
There are five phases of sleep in a sleep cycle:
Light sleep, slow eye movement, and reduced muscle activity. This stage forms 4 to 5 percent of total sleep.
Eye movement stops and brain waves become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles. This stage forms 45 to 55 percent of total sleep.
Extremely slow brain waves called delta waves begin to appear, interspersed with smaller, faster waves. This accounts for 4 to 6 percent of total sleep.
The brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. It is difficult to wake someone during stages 3 and 4, which together are called “deep sleep.” There is no eye movement or muscle activity. People awakened while in deep sleep do not adjust immediately and often feel disoriented for several minutes after waking up. This forms 12 to 15 percent of total sleep.
This stage is known as rapid eye movement (REM). Breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and males develop penile erections. When people awaken during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical tales. These are dreams. This stage accounts for 20 to 25 percent of total sleep time.
Neuroscience offers explanations linked to the rapid eye movementTrusted Source (REM) phase of sleep as a likely candidate for the cause of dreaming.
Why we dream?
There are many theories about why we dream, but no one knows for sure. Some researchers say dreams have no purpose or meaning. Others say we need dreams for our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Researches said that who weren’t allowed to dream had:
• A hard time concentrating
• Lack of coordination
• More tension
• A tendency to hallucinate
• Weight gain
Many experts say dreams exist to:
• Process emotions
• Incorporate memories
• Help solve problems in our lives
If you go to bed with a troubling thought, you may wake with a solution or at least feel better about the situation.
Some factors that affect us when we’re awake can also influence our dreams.
What affects our dreams?
• Health conditions
* One of the biggest influences on dreams is how much or how little you’re sleeping. Being sleep-deprived for a night or two (or more) can make parts of your brain much more active when you finally do slip into REM sleep. You’re likely to have more vivid dreams if you’ve had some restless nights. You’re also more likely to recall those dreams, too.
* Being pregnant is also a catalyst for vivid dreaming. Increased hormone production affects the way your brain processes thoughts and emotions. This often leads to some intense dreams.
* Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as bipolar disorder and other mood-related conditions, can trigger intense and sometimes disturbing or negative dreams and nightmares. The medications for these conditions, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, are also associated with a higher risk of nightmares.
High-carb foods, for example, can give you quick energy. But after a while, they can leave you feeling down. Anything that affects your waking mood is likely to affect your unconscious mood, too. So, if a sugar crash has you moping around during the day, those feelings could carry over into your sleep.
• Daily activities
A small studyTrusted Source found that one good way to sleep more soundly is to exercise in the morning. A good run or other cardio workout before noon helps set your clock so that you’re more inclined to fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep than if you didn’t exercise or if you exercised late at night.
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is where the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. They may have some control over their dream.
This measure of control can vary between lucid dreams. They often occur in the middle of a regular dream when the sleeping person realizes suddenly that they are dreaming.
Some people experience lucid dreaming at random, while others have reported being able to increase their capacity to control their dreams.
Why do we have nightmares?
Dreams that help you deal productively with emotions, memories, and other information may seem very helpful. The occasional nightmare is considered a dream that’s simply more frightening or upsetting. Nightmares tend to be caused by stress, anxiety, or sometimes as a reaction to certain medications.
However, if you have nightmares frequently, you could have a sleeping disorder. Regularly occurring scary dreams can be labeled a sleeping disorder if the nightmares:
• cause you to be anxious about going to sleep
• bring about other sleeping or psychological problems
• lead to frequent disruptions of your sleep
Why we forget most of our dreams?
As much as 95% of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. According to one theory about why dreams are so difficult to remember, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place.
Brain scans of sleeping individuals have shown that the frontal lobes—the area that plays a key role in memory formation—are inactive during REM sleep, the stage in which dreaming occurs.
Can dreams predict future?
Sometimes, dreams come true or tell of a future event. When you have a dream that plays out in real life, experts say it’s most likely due to:
• An unconscious linking of known information
• Bad memory
But sometimes, dreams can motivate you to act a certain way, thus changing the future.
What goes through our minds just before we fall asleep could affect the content of our dreams.
These circumstantial observations suggest that elements from the everyday re-emerge in dream-like imagery during the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
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