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What did you dream about last night?

andrelle's picture

                                                 What did you dream about last night?
      Dreaming is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when people are sleeping and it has one of the most varied interpretations by a number of people including scientists.  There are many theories as to how and why people dream.  Some believe that dreams can tell the future, others that dreams are just impulses from our brains and does not mean anything, and there are even some that believes that dreams provides an insight into our conscious lives.  Dreams are somehow a manifestation of our memories or the issues that plagues us in our lives that we do not confront.  It is clear that dreams have some relation to our conscious lives the manner in which dreams manifest themselves in our subconscious is too vague for us to comprehend.
       Most people are unaware that they go through five stages when they are sleeping, with the first stage being a very light sleep.  The second stage being a deeper sleep and the deepest sleep occurs in stage three and four.  As we go deeper into sleep, our brain activity slows down considerably, but after about ninety minutes of being asleep we begin REM sleep.  REM sleep is known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep where our brain activity increases as if we were awake.  It is during this stage that dreaming occur, our body undergoes a period of paralysis as well during this stage.  This period of analysis is necessary for it prevents one from acting out their dreams. Throughout the night, these five stages are repeated several times, causing one to have numerous dreams.
 Scientists are able to explain these five stages of sleeping quite well but what actually happens when we are dreaming is till very vague.  Since the brain is very active during that time, some believe that dreams are simply the result of random electrical impulses.  This theory does have some credibility because most people find their dreams to be random with no purpose.  The logic behind this theory being is if dreams were communicating important matters, most people would be able to make sense of their dreams.  What about those that claim to gain insight from their dreams?   There are some that do remember their dream and believe that their dreams provide insight into their lives.  Consequently, there are numerous books that are written about dreams and their meanings.
          Because dreams occur when we are in a state of unconsciousness, Sigmund Freud theorized that dreams are repressed longings.  He thinks that “dreams allow the unconscious mind to act out those unacceptable thoughts and desires.”(1)  Many discredit Freud’s belief because of the time period which he lived in, he lived during the sexually repressed Victorian era which explains his focus.  It seems unlikely that everybody in the world is dreaming about things that they cannot do considering that everybody dreams, even babies.  This theory seems to focus to describe why everyone in the world dreams.  Jung also provides a theory that most people seem to hold today which is that “dreams allow us to reflect on our waking selves and solve our problems and think through issues.”(1)  This theory is also problematic because most people do not understand their dreams and so there it would be difficult for them to be reflecting and thinking through their issues.
 At the same time, there has been significant research into how people can try to remember their dreams. Some of the techniques include keeping a dream journal or waking up frequently throughout the night around the time when one comes out of their REM sleep.  Scientists believe that the reason why we tend to forget our dreams is because we don’t have enough time to encode our dreams in our memory.  Most people remember through repetition, but there is no way for us to replay our dreams so that we might remember them.  Also, it is believed that our dreams are not memorable because they don’t make enough of impression on us due to their lack of meaning and so we do not remember.  It seems that if our dreams are not making enough of an impression to be remembered, one could argue that there is no reason for us to spend time in analyzing them.
      Phenomena such as recurring dreams and nightmares mandate a need for analyzing of dreams. Recurring dreams are instances where some people experience the same dream over and over.  It can be assumed that those people who are having the same dream over and over must have something that is causing it to happen.  It is this phenomenon that makes it impossible for dreams to be completely meaningless, because if one has no correlation to our lives, then all of them should not have any correlation to our lives.  Researchers argue that “most likely dreams are a result of electrical energy that stimulates memories located in various regions of the brain.”(2) In that case, most dreams can be attributed to random memories in the brain, because most of them tend to have some level of familiarity.  However, the answer as to why the brain chooses the memory that it does is a mystery.  And that in turn makes it difficult for one to qualify recurring dreams as random, because why would the brain choose the same memory randomly each night?  It is only logical that our dreams are triggered by what occurs during our waking moments.
      It is evident that science does not have all the answers when it comes to our dreams.  It is clear that dreams occur during the time when our brain is most active and so it makes sense that there would be remnants of those activities in the morning.  As a result of dreams personal nature, it is difficult for scientists to pinpoint exactly what is happening in our dreams.  It is also difficult to come up with one theory that would encompass all the reasons why people dream and what they dream about.  Because of its case by case nature, it seems logical to argue that dreams are not simply random impulses but rather a personal manifestation of our personal thoughts and memories. 




Nicole Vaccaro's picture

I seem to have the same

I seem to have the same dreams with numerous people that I know.
My sister especially, and a few of my closest friends.
Mine and my sister's dream has been re-occuring and has been more of a nightmare. Is this because we sleep in the same bed?
And the fact that I have the same dreams as my friends, am I specially gifted in some way or what? 'Cause it's kinda freakin me out!