You’re walking over the world in the sky. Around you the sky is not blue but pink and purple. You look down and realize that the world is not Earth, but a massive teddy bear made up of cars, cities, and people. But now you’re falling to the ground, to the teddy bear. But the teddy bear is gone! You’re falling into darkness. Ahhhh! You scream to no avail, nothing will help you now. Beep, beep, beep. Strange sounds are coming from the pit. Beep, beep, beep. Light starts to seep into the darkness and you are no longer falling but laying in your bed, awake. It was all a dream.
Dreams are nothing new. They were first recorded around 3100 B.C. by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. And they’ve been studied for a long time as well, however, there are still a lot of questions around them. Why do we dream? Are dreams beneficial? Can we dream more? All of these are questions I will be answering in this post, helping you understand dreams, and allowing you to use them for your benefit.
Why do we dream?
“Dreams are stories and images that our minds create while we sleep. They can be entertaining, fun, romantic, disturbing, frightening and sometimes bizarre,” ~Hannah Nichols
So the big question is: Why? Why do our brains play out mini movies while we sleep? Is it to simply entertain us? Or is it something else?
The answer to this question is not clear. However, there are a few theories as to why we dream:
- The Psychoanalytic Theory of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud, is a commonly accepted theory. It describes dreams as a representation of our unconscious desires. We have many conscious desires that we do not express to others, under Freud’s theory dreams are our brain’s attempt to express them.
- The Activation-Synthesis Model of Dreaming, proposed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley in 1977 is another popular theory. Under Hobson’s and Robert’s theory the brain activates circuits in the brain stem during sleep. The circuits actually activate the limbic system, which is involved with emotions, sensations, and memories.
- The Cognitive Theory of Dreaming proposed by behavioral psychologist Calvin Hall thought that dreams reflected the person. Hall thought that dreams were a person’s conception of 5 certain things. First of ourselves, second of others, third of the world, fourth of our morals, and fifth of conflict.
So now you have a general overview of the theories of why we dream. Lets look into how we benefit from them.
Are Dreams Beneficial?
The answer here is YES! Dreams are good for you, and there are many benefits. Here I will go over just one of those, and then tell you how to achieve them.
Dreams improve your memory. A study done by Erin Wamsley and Robert Stickgold at Harvard Medical School showed that dreams, and sleep, helped improve memory. The study took 99 students and had them play with a virtual reality maze. The students’ were asked to remember a certain spot in the maze. They then had to find the spot when placed at random areas along the maze.
Fifty of the students were allowed to take a nap. When they woke up and did the maze again they did better than their peers. Ten of the students who took a nap reported dreaming of the maze. These students did TEN TIMES better than the other students, who were not allowed to take a nap.
Dreaming is very beneficial. It allows you to go over the events of the day, sorting out the different memories. Interpreting your dreams can help you discover your subconscious.
How can we dream more?
We actually already dream 3-5 times a night on average. Some nights we dream more than others. The question here shouldn’t be about dreaming more, but how to remember our dreams. There are a few ways to remember your dreams more. I’ll go over two here.
1. Keep a dream journal. Have a journal next to your bed and write down any dreams you have and can remember.
2. Interpret your dreams. If you have one factor that reoccurs in your dreams then you can use the internet to look up what it means. This allows you to determine any subconscious issues you may have.
Now go out and dream more! Thanks for reading!
If you want to check out how laughing makes you happier click here. Or if you’d like to learn about the benefits of exercise click here. Lastly to learn about my Psychology Series click here or here.
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