Did you know about these 10 facts about dreams and sleep everyone should know?
We all sleep for a few hours during the night, yet we don?t really know all that much about it.
Scientists have found out some interesting facts about dreams and sleep. They are very important for our wellbeing.
1. Dreams are a form of communication:
The word dream may sound like a sci-fi movie villain’s trick to invade the mind of a sleeping individual, but recent scientific research has revealed that we have the ability to communicate with others while we’re dreaming.
The phenomenon is known as “interactive dreaming,” and it occurs during the phase of sleep where dreams occur, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
When we dream, our brain recombine fragments of waking life to create an ever-changing narrative that reflects our interests and concerns. This is how we end up dreaming about things like cycling, teaching and money.
One of the main reasons we dream is to process emotions and stressful experiences that occurred in waking life. Studies have shown that dreaming helps people deal with these emotions and rehearse them in different imagined contexts.
But there are other functions of dreams, too. Some psychologists believe that dreams are the brain’s way of consolidating information, dumping excess data, keeping us alert and much more.
Sigmund Freud was among the first to suggest that dreams are expressions of repressed conflicts or desires, and that they represent wish fulfillment. Carl Jung took a more rigorous approach, arguing that dreams are manifestations of inchoate emotions or thoughts released by the deep subconscious.
Many other scientists, including neurologists, have also suggested that dreaming serves important purposes. These include:
The ability to rehearse emotions in different contexts is considered part of the brain’s way of managing emotions. This is believed to reduce the release of stress chemicals in the brain. It is also thought to help build memory and improve problem-solving skills.
2. Dreams are a form of memory
One of the most intriguing things about dreams is that they reflect the functional brain process of memory consolidation. This process is especially prominent during REM sleep, when memories are activated in the neocortex instead of the hippocampal memory center.
The neocortex is supposed to be responsible for the storage of memories and the creation of linked multisensory representations.
This means that if you have a memory of going to dinner, for example, it might involve a specific place, specific sounds, and even memories of other people.
However, research shows that during REM, these different aspects of a memory aren’t linked together in the way they would be if you were remembering it while awake. This may explain why we have such a varied range of dreams: early-night REM dreams tend to be more realistic, while late-night REM dreams are much more disjointed and bizarre.
It also means that dreams can have a lot of influence on your daytime life. For instance, a recent study found that dreaming of a virtual maze navigation task is associated with enhanced consolidation of spatial memory across both nap sessions and full nights of sleep.
This idea is backed by other studies that find that dreaming is associated with learning-related neural activity. During waking, neural firing sequences reactivate in intermittent bursts on a shorter timescale than the original experience, but are rarely reiterated exactly.
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3. Dreams are a form of creativity:
Many people have heard that dreams are a form of creativity, but few people know the actual reason. Research has shown that dreams are a way for the mind to make new connections and create images without relying on the logical part of the brain.
Creative artists, such as poets and violinists, often dream about their work. The artist’s vivid visualization can inspire a song, a painting or even a new invention.
This ability to use dreams for creative inspiration has been around since the Renaissance. Several famous artists, including Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali, have painted from their dreams.
Psychiatrists like Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were expressions of unconscious wishes and conflicts, sometimes sexual in nature. Similarly, psychologists Carl Jung and others expanded on this theory.
Scientists have also found that dreams can help solve problems. For example, some students who practiced their tennis strokes in a dream found that they improved their performance the next day.
Other studies have shown that lucid dreaming is a way to stimulate creative thought. Researchers found that frequent lucid dreamers had much higher creativity scores than non-lucid dreamers.
While dreams can be creative, they don’t always produce the best results. One study found that people who scored highly on creativity tests were more likely to have disturbed sleep patterns.
If you’re struggling with being creative, try to sleep better. This will also boost your mood and make you more productive. In fact, sleeping is actually one of the most important things you can do for your mental health. You should also avoid drinking too much alcohol because it can depress your mood and prevent you from having a healthy sleep routine.
4. Dreams are a form of communication:
Throughout human history, people have tried to interpret their dreams in various ways. From ancient wives’ tales to complex theories, dream interpretation has gained a lot of popularity as both a source of entertainment and as a form of self-reflection.
Despite this, scientists haven’t been able to completely understand why we dream or what we dream about. They know that dreaming occurs during certain stages of sleep, like REM sleep, which is marked by rapid eye movements and intense brain activity.
The most vivid and complex dreams occur during this stage of the sleep cycle. During REM sleep, the brain is more active and dreams tend to reflect recent experiences.
According to Sigmund Freud, people dream to hide their unconscious thoughts and desires. They can also be a way of dealing with emotional dramas that are otherwise difficult for the conscious mind to address.
Researchers from four independent lab groups, in the U.S., Germany, France, and the Netherlands tested the ability of participants to communicate with each other while in lucid dreams. For the experiment, the scientists used an array of electrodes that could detect distinctive eye movements and facial contortions when a dreamer was responding to questions or messages from the researchers.
The scientists found that they were able to communicate with dreamers 26% of the time via their eye movements or facial contortions. But out of 158 trials, only 18% of the time did dreamers respond with correct answers. That’s a surprisingly low response rate for what seems to be one-way communication. But it’s at least worth a try, says study co-author Daniel Paller, a researcher at Northwestern University in Illinois.
5. dreams can be used to learn new skills or techniques:
Dreams are hallucinations that occur during certain stages of sleep, most commonly REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These dreams can be very vivid and have a profound impact on our lives.
Many sleep experts believe that dreams are a form of communication. They are a way for the brain to relay information between different regions of the brain and to make sense of the world around us.
In addition, dreams can be used to learn new skills or techniques. For example, a surgeon may practice a complex procedure while in a dream, to train their brain and body to be more prepared for actual surgery.
But until now, scientists have been unable to adequately explain how dreams work or why they happen. This could be because dreams don’t have a logical structure, like the thoughts we have while awake.
Instead, they are based on emotional centers of the brain and aren’t as well organized. Researchers have also found that dreams can be influenced by a number of factors, such as smells and sounds emitted during sleep.
But an international team of researchers has now made a significant breakthrough in this area by allowing people to communicate with each other while they’re dreaming. Their findings were published in Current Biology.
6. Quality is at least as important as quantity
Sleep is a necessary human function that often gets taken for granted. People think that if they sleep for a certain amount of time, they should naturally feel rested and energized in the morning; however, this isn’t always the case. There are nights when 8 hours of sleep feels like 4 due to sleep being constantly disrupted and deprived from hitting each sleeping stage.
Falling asleep, light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep are all key elements in a successful night’s sleep – if these stages are off balance or continuously disrupted, then it will directly reflect how you feel the following morning. Even if you sleep for 8 hours, poor quality sleep can still leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
7. Colour versus black and white
While sleep may be a time to escape the mundane realities of day-to-day life, our dreams are often influenced by what we’ve seen and experienced before. Believe it or not, some people still dream in black and white! According to research, about 12 per cent of sleepers have documented dreams that appear in monochrome.
An even more interesting fact is that 75 per cent of people in pre-colour television times had black and white dreams. Clearly, the images we come across in everyday life affects the way we experience sleep.
8. The strangers in your dreams aren’t strangers at all
Sleep is a strange phenomenon and it can present us with some bizarre situations, such as the situation where strangers in our dreams don’t seem to be complete strangers.
We now understand this phenomenon because of the brain’s capacity – or lack thereof- to think of completely new faces. We can often find these strangers in our memories; maybe you had a very quick encounter with a person in your daily life that you didn’t even remember afterwards, as your brain probably decided that it was ‘useless’ information to store.
What does stick however, is the impression this individual made on your subconscious and when sleep comes, the brain starts processing all that information and so that face from earlier might come back, albeit distorted through sleep.
9. Needing 8 hours of sleep is a myth
We all sleep differently and the truth is, there’s no magical number of hours you should sleep each night. Despite popular opinion, it’s not always necessary to sleep for a full eight hours.
Sleep expert Neil Stanley explains that sleep needs can range from three to eleven hours – everyone’s sleep requirements are different! What’s important is listening to your body and finding its natural sleep pattern. Don’t be alarmed if you require less sleep than an average adult; as long as you’re feeling refreshed in the morning and have enough energy throughout the day, then you’re most likely getting enough sleep!
10. You probably weren’t awake the entire night
If you’ve ever suffered from a night where sleep just wouldn’t come, you know how frustrating it can be. It feels like the hours drag on endlessly and sleep is impossible. You might look up at the clock every hour only to feel discouraged. Funny enough, sleep could have been sneaking up on you without you even realizing it.
Light sleep, during which your senses are still engaged and let you pick up on environment changes, can give rise to the feeling of restlessness and alertness. This can create the illusion that time stood still all night when in actuality, sleep came in spurts – perhaps more than you realized.