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What Are Dreams

Whether you are having nightmares or completely incredible, idealistic dreams, we all want to understand them better. Dreams are so frequently studied because of their unimaginable and vast potential. Ranging all the way back to Sigmund Freud’s time period, various scientists have sought to understand dreams and sleep patterns.

So, What is a Dream?

According to the dictionary, a dream is an image or thought that we experience as we sleep. Some dreams can be fictional, while others are based off of actual people we know or places we have been. Often times our deepest and darkest fears creep into our dreams, causing us to have vivid nightmares. Yet sometimes we are lucky enough to experience a positive dream that portrays our innermost desires, whatever they may be.

How often we dream depends on how many times we experience that particular stage of sleep.

During What Stage of Sleep Do We Dream?

Our body goes through various stages as we sleep. Specifically, there are five stages through which we cycle as we sleep. The average person can rotate through different cycles of these stages during every night’s sleep.

  • Stage 1—During this stage our body’s muscles begin to slow down. We can easily be woken up during this stage. In fact, this is the stage when we often wake up feeling as though we are falling. This sensation is caused by our body’s involuntary muscle spasms.
  • Stage 2—Brain waves begin to slow down during this stage of sleep. We can still be woken up relatively easy, but our body’s functioning begins to slow down drastically.
  • Stage 3—By this stage of sleep, our eye movement has stopped altogether and our brain waves are scarce. It now becomes very difficult to be woken up, and our muscles are practically paralyzed.
  • Stage 4—This stage of sleep is considered the deepest. This sleep stage is often referred to as delta sleep, since our brain sends little, sporadic delta waves. It is very difficult to wake someone up during this stage of sleep.
  • REM stage—As opposed to the very immobile and tranquil state in stage four, the body now begins rapid eye movement. The eyes flurry about, breathing becomes quick, and our muscles paralyze completely. Heart rates and blood pressure both rise, and our body loses its ability to control its temperature. During this stage is when dreams occur.

If anyone wakes up during REM sleep then there is a high possibility that they will remember their dreams. Most people move throughout three to five intervals of REM per night, so there is quite the opportunity to remember a dream if you just happen to wake up during this stage.

 

What are Lucid Dreams?

Lucid Dreaming is ability to consciously dream and control events in a dream. With some practice, anyone can lucid dream and perform impossible tasks like flying and change your surrounding, all while being aware of one's presence in the dream. Lucid dreams can feel as real as real life where you can hear, see, smell, taste and even feel everything near you.

 
Lucid dreams occurs when you realize that you are dreaming and you wake up inside the dream. Such experience is not abnormal or paranormal and a very natural experience. You are in such control in a lucid dream that you can even wake yourself up when uncomfortable or when you have completed your impossible "out of the world" act.
 

In normal dreams, your self awareness is shut down. That's why they often feel fuzzy and distant. But when lucid, the conscious brain wakes up during sleep.

 

I Who Has Been Researching Dreams?

Dreams have been a hot topic since the earliest historical civilizations known to man. The Greeks and Romans believed that dreams were a form of communication with the gods. Some cultures were convinced that dreams demonstrated one’s prophetic abilities. These beliefs were common, but it was not until the late nineteenth century that Sigmund Freud sought to validate the scientific rationale for dreams.

What Was Sigmund Freud’s Theory?

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both worked to theorize that our dreams are simply mirrors into our unconscious. Both Freud and Jung believed that our dreams portray things that our unconscious mind desires. Freud in particular believed that dreams revolve around our innermost desires and wishes. Dreaming, according to Freud, offers us all the ability to find solutions to resolved or repressed desires. Carl Jung also believed that dreams were interconnected with our psyches, but the two differed when it came to explanations of dream interpretations.

Even though Freud created these theories over a century ago, more contemporary scientists believe that Freud was onto something.

What do Modern Scientists Have to Say About Dreams?

In one recent study, scientists were able to connect dreams reported by amnesiacs to actual events that the scientists know the amnesiacs experienced. It would be impossible for someone with amnesia to remember the events, so there is no placebo effect into their reportings. Instead, scientists claim this is the proof necessary to link dreams to actual, unconscious thought.

However, other scientists have worked to prove that dreams do not actually mean anything. Instead, some scientists claim that there is a distinct neurobiological explanation for dreams. To these scientists, dreams can be explained by the theory of activation-synthesis hypothesis. This theory states that dreams are created by electric brain impulses, which grab information from our memories and images. Therefore, we construct dreams based off of our imagery, and our brain works to make sense of it all as we sleep.

So what Do We Know About Dreams?

The study into dreams, referred to as Oneirology, is still heavily debated. Some believe that dreams have no meaning whatsoever, and others argue that dreams hold heavy psychological meaning for each and every individual.

Regardless of your particular beliefs, dreams can be fascinating. Until the day when we do fully understand dreams, enjoy the ubiquitous and uncertain nature of them

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