We all dream, right? But, why? It has been a series of bizarre dreams which have led me to do some rigorous research on the same. I’m sure at some point in your life you were napping the best nap of your life and then suddenly you’re jolted awake because in your dream, you’ve tripped and managed to fall off a cliff or a sidewalk (utter extremes) and well, then you’re awake. If so, I’m sure this’ll help you understand why without making it all dreamy.
A dream is a chain of sensations, images, ideas, and emotions. The purpose of the content we see in our dreams is still a work in progress, but it has been the subject of religious and philosophical interest and a topic of scientific speculation in the past
Now, let us begin with the time span and occurrence of these dreams. REM, also known as rapid eye movement, is the stage of sleep when dreams mainly occur as that is when brain activity is high and most resembles that of being awake. Dreams do occur in other sleep stages but they tend to be less vivid and those are the dreams you usually forget about.
Drams can range from a few seconds to a solid 30-minute-long movie. On an average people dream 5-6 dreams each night. Throughout cultures and time, opinions have varied and shifted about the meaning of dreams. It seems that people generally endorse the Freudian theory of dreams, and that is that dreams reveal hidden emotions and desires. Other theories are that dreams help us in problem-solving, in memory formation, or that they occur simply due to random brain activation. Often, people report having similar dreams: They’re being chased, fall off a cliff, or show up in public naked. These types of dreams are probably caused by hidden stress or anxiety. The dreams may be similar, but experts say the meaning behind the dream is unique to each person.
“Re-experiencing” is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as flashbacks. These involuntary recollections often manifest in the form of nightmares that can cause significant emotional distress. Even when the dreams are not exact replays of trauma, they may have a strong symbolic or indirect connection to the event. If you have a certain nightmare over and over again, your subconscious may be trying to tell you something. Listen to it. If you can’t figure out why you’re having bad dreams, talk to a mental health care provider. They may be able to help you figure out what’s causing your nightmares and give you tips to put you at ease.
There’s an old lady who smiled at you in the metro today and guess what? You saw her in your dream a week later, unexpectedly and irrelevantly, this is called Dream Lag. Dream-lag is when the images, experiences, or people that emerge in dreams are images, experiences, or people you have seen recently, perhaps the previous day or a week before.
The idea is that certain types of experiences take a week to become encoded into long-term memory, and some of the images from the consolidation process will appear in a dream.
The different types of dreams have been classified in the following way:
Relationships: Some have hypothesized that one cluster of typical dreams, including being an object in danger, falling, or being chased, is related to interpersonal conflicts.
Sexual concepts: Another cluster that includes flying, sexual experiences, finding money, and eating delicious food is associated with libidinal and sexual motivations.
Fear of embarrassment: A third group, containing dreams that involve being nude, failing an examination, arriving too late, losing teeth, and being inappropriately dressed, is associated with social concerns and a fear of embarrassment.
It is also said that people with migraines have an increased frequency of dreams involving taste and smell, this may suggest the involvement of some cerebral structures such as the amygdala and hypothalamus. It has been shown that realistic, localized painful sensations can be experienced in dreams, either through direct incorporation or from memories of pain.
The right and left hemispheres of the brain seem to contribute in different ways to dream formation.
Researchers of one study concluded that the left hemisphere seems to provide dream origin while the right hemisphere provides dream vividness, figurativeness, and affective activation level.
Dreams have fascinated humanity since the beginning of time and will probably continue to puzzle us. Science has allowed us to learn much about the human brain, but we may never know for sure the meanings behind our dreams.
This post has been written by Mehek Sandhu, IIIrd year