Dreams have always been a source of fascination to humans since they are pretty mystical in nature. Ancient human societies and early civilizations thought that dreams were real, actual happenings in a separate dream realm that could only be entered through sleep. Visions that we see in our sleep that no one else can know of without our telling or explaining can seem supernatural, magical, or even scary in some instances to those who do not understand the inner workings of the brain. We still do not completely understand our brains and its mysterious processes despite all the recent investigations and research done on the topic. There is still so much to learn, and dreams hold a special interest to us since they represent the epitome of secrecy and fascination that our brains contain. Here is a look at what we know about dreams so far after several decades of hard core science and still no major, super, awesome breakthrough into this weird process…
The human brain is like a giant storage system. Everything we see, hear, taste, touch, experience, or even can imagine ourselves doing those things can be filed away in this massive organ. Our brain can pay attention even when our consciousness doesn’t! All of this information is absorbed and put in special storage files or data containers in our minds. The idea of quickly and easily recalling all of this knowledge upon command is a completely different matter entirely of course; however, while we dream and sink into the subconscious areas of our minds, the random piles of accumulated data that is laying around in unorganized spaces of our brains are more easily accessible and even like to pop up on its own.
This stirring of information and memories and thoughts in our minds at night happens every time we fall into a deep state of sleep. With new technologies that let us look at the functions and processes of the brain, scientists have actually been able to see what is going on during sleep to produce dreams. The brainstem itself starts to be extremely active, generating images that are based on stored visual memory traits which are then fed into the brain who tries to tie the images together and form a narrative that our sleeping minds might accept or understand—which is why most people can recall the feeling of something making sense in a dream that clearly is not that way when they wake up to reflect on it. The waking portion of our mind (even though it is asleep and kind of out of it) is trying to make sense of the images being fed into it and create a storyline because the brain itself wants to understand what is going on and what it is seeing.
The most vivid and most numerous dreams we have is during the rapid eye movement (REM) portion of our sleep cycle. Our eyes move furiously behind our eyelids during this time as our brains are working very hard despite the sleep state. This Rapid Eye Movement stage happens for 45 minutes every hour and a half to one hundred minutes we are asleep. The dreams that you remember upon waking are most often from this time period of sleep. Some people are more receptive to remembering their dreams than others though. A select few cannot remember hardly any of their dreams, but they do have them! They have to have them in order to properly go through the phases of restful sleep that all beings need.
What we dream about has been one of the most looked into aspects of dreaming. We dream about many different things, taking bits and pieces from our random brain files with verbal, emotional, and visual stimuli to string together into a singular dream. Sometimes the storyline makes sense and other times it doesn’t. Experts and scholars constantly are butting heads about the idea that there is a purpose to our dreams. Are they to help us solve problems or to look into ourselves or are they just random pulses running through our brain at night? The popular ideas of Freud really put dream analysis into the limelight even though most modern psychologists think that his specific dream analysis techniques and dream meaning interpretations are probably a bit off and down the wrong path. Freud’s work has been revamped lately to accommodate new theories (like those of Jung) to compose contemporary dream interpretations. The neuroscientists of the past few decades diverge away from the psychological aspects. Neuroscientists are interested in analyzing and studying the structures of the brain itself and the functions involved in producing the dream, going in a more physical or literal direction away from psychoanalysts who are interested in the meaning of the dreams. However, the fact that the images may be random does not mean that the dreams themselves are worthless. Seeing how your brain works to put the images together and create stories in its subconscious can be useful to looking into yourself—particularly when sharing your dreams with a trained psychoanalyst professional who knows how to interpret the processing of the images more than the images itself which is what amateurs tend to focus on.
Since we are still trying to figure out dreams and what they really mean, there are a lot of mysteries and questions to be answered by further research and personal opinion until we find real answers. However, the past few decades have revealed several “fun facts” about dreams and sleep that help to provide a foundation for further investigation. Did you know these things?
- Most dreams can last anywhere between five and twenty minutes.
- People dream can dream in color as well as black and white even though a common misconception in past times was that people could only dream in black and white.
- People who have been blind from birth still have dreams but they are formed from their other senses with which they interact with the world—touch, smell, taste, and sound.
- If someone is snoring, they are not dreaming because the muscles that are tensed in order to snore become lax during deep sleep.
- Negative emotions (particularly anxiety) are more common in dreams that positive ones.
- The average human will spend six years of their life dreaming during sleep.
Author: Brooke Windsor — Copyrighted © roadtickle.com