Most of what we know about dreams and their meaning is actually false. Common ideas about dreams are largely based around old myths and a misunderstanding of what dreams really are. Facts about dreams remain little known, so the truth needs to be separated from the myths.
- We Dream Constantly During Sleep
Studies show that REM sleep is when we appear to experience most of our dreams, but dreaming is a constant process as we sleep. We are less tuned into our dreams during the first two thirds of our sleep, simply because REM sleep occurs more towards the end of a night’s sleep than at the beginning.
- Dreams Lengthen the Longer we Sleep
Soon after falling asleep, our dreams may last only for a few minutes, but a few hours more sleep produces longer dreams. During periods of REM, a dream can last for any amount of time, usually between twenty minutes to an hour.
- Emotional Dreams Produce Real Feelings
The body reacts to stressful situations in dreams exactly as it does in real life. A sudden increase in heart rate or a rise in blood pressure caused by a dream contributes to the emotions you feel when you are awake. When, for instance, you experience anger in a dream, that anger will remain with you after waking.
- Nightmares Involve Underlying Emotions
Nightmares do cause fear, but a recent study looking into the dreams of more than 300 people reveals that bad dreams also cause feelings of anxiety, guilt, sadness, failure and confusion. Nightmares are more violent and aggressive in men than in women, whose bad dreams are more often about relationships.
- Death Dreams are Not Fatal
The old idea that anyone who dies in a dream will actually die is obviously a myth. The same study that has identified underlying emotions in bad dreams has also proved that many people can recall dreams about their own death.
- Some People Have a Greater Ability to Recall Dreams
In 2014 a scientific study revealed that people who more easily remember their dreams have greater spontaneous brain activity in a specific brain region, between the temporal and parietal lobes. There is a difference in the brain activity of people who do not often remember their dreams, or never recall dreaming.
- Dreams Are Hard to Recall After Waking Up Suddenly
The best way to recall your dreams is by waking up very slowly and staying half-asleep for several minutes. If you are suddenly woken up by an alarm, then you are less likely to be able to remember anything that has happened in your dreams.
- Animals are Likely to Have Dreams
It’s not possible to detect rapid eye movement in species of fish and insects, but we do know that REM is observed in birds, reptiles and mammals. Researchers at the University of California suggest that this is the closest we have come to finding evidence of animal dreams.
- The Meaning of Dreams and Their Purpose
It’s only when we remember something that happened in a dream that it seems really weird. Within the context of a dream we never know that there is something strange going on. At the University of Arizona, clinical psychologist Rubin Naiman, Ph.D. has studied the changes which take place within the brain during sleep, and the purpose of dreams. He says that what happens in dreams can’t be compared to anything we know in the real world.
Dr Naiman explains that during sleep the brain digests information in the same way that the body digests food. The brain processes real life experiences during the hours of sleep and unnecessary information is eliminated. Who we are as individuals depends on what is rejected and what is stored by the brain.
Source: The Open Mind
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