Why do we dream and why is it so important?


Have you ever wondered why you dream? Most of us take it for granted and accept that it is simply something that our brain does while we sleep and that we have little or no control over it. But there is certainly much more to these night visions and they could even be improving our health and wellbeing.

Dreams happen during good sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, there is a good chance that you don’t remember your dreams clearly or you may never dream at all. This is because dreams mostly take place during the Rapid Eye Movement or REM stages of sleep. Our sleep works on a cycle that takes around 90 minutes to complete and we might go through 5 or so of these cycles per night. In the REM stage, our brain activity is high, but our body is mostly paralysed. REM sleep increases in intensity and duration throughout the night with periods of close to an hour occurring as morning approaches. This is why we often remember the dreams that happen in the morning.

Dreams occur during the REM stage, so if you fail to reach that stage due to irregular sleep patterns, you may never actually dream as you skip this important form of sleep across the night.

What is a dream?

This is the question that scientists struggle to answer. However some theories have emerged. One is that it is our brain’s way of processing our thoughts and events of the previous day or two with what is essentially a hallucination. The brain might be storing important memories, solving problems that have concerned us or it may simply be our subconscious mind revealing our hidden emotions and desires.

Other researchers believe that that our brains have evolved to dream as part of our neurological functioning, but that the dreams themselves are meaningless by-products of this function. In most cases, we have no control over what happens in a dream, although lucid dreaming does allow for some input and this most often happens during that period of time when the dreamer is only half asleep.

Why are dreams important?

A study was carried out in 1960 by William C. Dement MD, PHD that looked into this. Subjects were woken throughout the night just as they entered REM sleep and were therefore, not allowed to dream at all. They all reported increased tension, anxiety, a lack of coordination, tiredness, weight gain and even a tendency to hallucinate. It seems that dream deprivation (alongside sleep deprivation) can have profound consequences.

Improving your chances of dreaming

So if you are finding it difficult to sleep well, there’s a good chance you are also not dreaming effectively. The dreams themselves may not be important, but the brain activity taking place during REM sleep is essential. So what can you do to help yourself to reach all of the stages of sleep?

  • The Sleep Infuser is designed to get you into a natural pattern of sleep and to take you through that cycle across the night. You should therefore enter REM sleep around 5 times each night, once the pattern is established.
  • You can also try to time your bed times and waking times to ensure you move through the full 90 minute cycles before waking. Set and consistent bed times and waking times are known to be good for health.
  • Give yourself the best chance of sleeping throughout the night by checking bedroom temperature, clothing choices, lighting and avoiding disturbances where ever possible.
  • Avoid stimulants that might affect sleep and try not to take sleeping medication or alcohol to promote sleep. These affect the sleep cycle.

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