What Do Dreams Mean? How to Interpret Them According to Scientists
We've all had these crazy, vivid dreams that trigger a Google search as soon as we wake up. But what do dreams, if anything, mean about our waking life? We spoke to medical experts who investigate all the strange ways our minds work to better understand what goes on in our minds after we fall asleep. Read on to learn what dreams are actually and why we have them.
What are dreams
Before we dive into what lies beneath those hyper-realistic dreams, you spend far too much time analyzing the AM - you know, the ones that are about losing all teeth or giving birth unexpectedly - it is important to understand what dreams are. A sign from the universe? Your fear of making your debut as an unconscious film director?
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"Dreams represent sleep mentation" - images and thinking in sleep - "and that has many dimensions," says David Neubauer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. In other words, dreams are a series of fragmented visions and thoughts that come to us while we are unconscious.
Dreams most often occur during REM sleep, also known as paradoxical sleep - a stage of sleep when "your brain is moderately active thinking about things and processing information," says Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. "But there's this separation between what's going on in our brain and reality." (If you're curious about where REM sleep gets its name from, Gehrman says that our eyes stay very still for most of the sleep cycle, during this phase our eyes start moving, even according to the dreams we are in That moment: "When we dream that we see a bird flying through the air, our eyes will actually look up as if we were looking at the bird," says Gehrman.
Most of our dreams occur during REM sleep, but we can also have dreams at other stages of the sleep cycle. “We now understand that you can also dream in other phases of sleep. However, non-REM dreams are boring, boring, and usually not too interesting, ”says Gehrman. So, if you dream of waking up and going to the bathroom to brush your teeth - a normal morning routine - you are probably no longer in REM.
Why do we dream
Aren't dreams just used to ask us what the universe could possibly signal? Scientists believe they do, but there is still a lot of research to be done before we approach a final answer. "There are two kinds of theories," says Gerhman, "some deal with the function of dreaming and others with the function of REM sleep, the idea being that something really important happens in the brain during REM sleep is. " ""
What exactly are our thoughts trying to reach in the middle of the night? Gerhman explains that during the REM phase, all new information that we have learned during the day is incorporated into our storage network. "The information in your brain doesn't exist in independent memories, the information is interconnected - and those connections form during REM sleep," he says.
In a pivotal dream study published in Science magazine, a group of participants played Tetris on and off for several days. On game days, the researchers woke participants every few minutes for the first hour after falling asleep - they discovered that most reminded them to dream of floating objects that moved as if in a game. Gerhman says such takeaways prove that our dreams are one of the methods our brains adjust to handle the day's events.
"One thing we know is that the emotional content reflects our waking emotions - when we experience a stressor or fear that actually follows us to sleep," says Gerhman. That explains why you might dream of being back in school and missing a test if you were really worried about your job.
Neubauer adds that while our dreams can be useful in helping us remember things better, they can also help us forget the moments that we would rather not hold onto. "Think of it as a computer that processes what's important to keep and what's to get rid of," he says.
Do dreams actually mean something?
Do our dreams really mean anything from a scientific point of view? "When we think about the meaning of our dreams and where they come from, there are many ideas," says Gerhman. "Sigmund Freud would say that our dreams reflect what is going on in our unconscious and represent the fulfillment of desires, while Carl Jung would say that our dreams reflect our collective unconscious and more about what is going on for us culturally goes. " This is where dream interpreters come into play.
Why do some people have lucid dreams?
The power of the mind takes on a whole new meaning when you dream clearly - suddenly you are aware that you are sleeping but still not awake. The mind is a powerful thing! When it comes to who is more likely to have lucid dreams, age can be a deciding factor. "We tend to dream clearly when we're younger," says Gerhman. "My hypothesis is that as we get older, when we become aware of it, it is more difficult for our brain to fall asleep." dreams. "This could explain why you are less likely to have lucid dreams now than when you were a teenager.
Why do we remember some dreams and forget others?
If you're still holding onto a dream that happened months ago but can't even remember the one you had last night, this is a good indicator that you haven't "woken up" from your last dream. “In most cases, dreams occur at the end of these 90-minute sleep cycles, and at the end of each sleep cycle there is a night period when we are most likely to wake up,” says Gerhman. "Often times we wake up for maybe 15-30 seconds - not long enough to remember we woke up the next day, but it's long enough for our brains to remember the dream." If you don't experience this brief awakening, you are less likely to remember the morning dream.
On the upside, Neurbaeur finds another reason you might forget a dream here or there is simply because you have a night of uninterrupted sleep. "It could be that those who don't remember their dreams just sleep better." Interestingly, he explained that developing insomnia might actually make you more likely to remember your dreams. “An example would be a person who would normally be unaware of their dreaming and then become more aware over time,” he says. “One reason for this could be that they develop obstructive sleep apnea, which makes it more likely someone from their REM wakes up asleep and therefore be more conscious of dreaming. "
Originally published on Glamor
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