Everyone dreams but what are dreams exactly? Of course, you’ve experienced it but you may be wondering what it is exactly that happens when you dream. You might also be asking why do we even dream. Is it necessary? Is it some form of the message? From who or where? We will explore those areas in a bit. But before we learn what’s the real deal about what are dreams, you should first know these common misconceptions about dreams.
Since you’re interested in learning about dreams, here are 20 interesting facts about dreams.
Mythical Beliefs About Dreams
Before we look at the facts, it would be fun to know some of the mythical beliefs about what are dreams. These pieces of information should be taken with caution and you should know that this is all for entertainment. We will get to the scientific facts later. In the meantime, this is what people believed about dreams before enough knowledge has been gathered.
In Greek mythology, there is a specific god that personified the dream world. His name is Morpheus. He’s the son of Hypnos, god of sleep. Morpheus had the power to enter dreams of the mortals to deliver messages from the gods. He first appeared in the epic poem Metamorphoses, written by the poet Ovid. Morpheus could take the shape of a human mortal when delivering messages but his true form was a demon-like a figure. He had black wings. He was chosen as the messenger because he’s the best at disguising himself as a human among Hypnos’ children.
In Native American culture, there is a tribe called Ojibwe who lived near the shores of Lake Superior. According to their legend, the Spider Woman or Asibikaashi watch over the Ojibwe people and every morning, she builds a lodge. This captures the sun and brings she brings it to her children. The lodge is a spider web. As the people spread, she was no longer able to watch over them so she let people build their own lodges. These are the dream catchers. Through these, she protects them from nightmares. Legend has it that if you hang a dream catcher above your bed, the good dreams will filter through the holes.
We’ve all heard about Mr. Sandman. He’s a benevolent being who sprinkles sand into the eyes of sleeping boys and girls to make them dream. So when you wake up, you will have crusty residues in your eyes. He first appeared in literature in the story Ole Lukoje by Hans Christian Andersen. But he became more popular in the 1816 story Der Sandman where he only visited children who wouldn’t go to sleep. His sand made their eyes fall out and he fed them to the demonic children in his iron fortress on the moon. And of course, it was then turned into a character in Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel, The Sandman Series.
Of course, there are other variations of dream legends and a lot of cultures have their own folklore about dreams. But those are some of the ones that really became popular.
What Are Dreams?
So what are dreams? Sometimes, our dreams feel so real that we mistake them for real events. But what is really happening inside our minds? Let us explore some of the explanations. But as knowledge evolve, some of the previous explanations about dreams have been debunked and more accurate information is available, thanks to scientists who keep studying the human brain.
We all know the psychologist Sigmund Freud who made a lot of studies in human behavior. According to him, dreams are windows to our subconscious. Studies show that he may be right but only to some extent. He said that in dreams, our ego’s defenses are lower so that some things we repress surface to our awareness although in distorted form. They serve as valuable clues to how our unconscious mind operates.
Continuation of Thoughts
The most accurate explanation of what are dreams so far and one that is backed by scientific evidence is that dreams are nothing but a continuation of our thoughts. Technically, dreams are images and imagery. They’re thoughts and sounds, and subjective sensations that we experience when we sleep. Sometimes, they’re simply a recollection of what happened earlier in your day.
Dreams are most abundant during the REM stage of sleep or rapid eye movement. This is the deepest of the sleep cycle. When your eyes begin to move rapidly, your heart rate and breathing become inconsistent. Then your muscles experience some paralysis. This is some way of your mind to protect you from acting on your dreams physically. Some stages of REM sleep may last up to 30 minutes at a time. Some detailed dreams can last only for a few minutes but can be very rich.
Theories about dreams are difficult to prove or disprove. It is most likely a combination of theories that really explain dreams. There are still a lot of things we don’t know or can’t explain what are dreams. But science keeps discovering things and adding to our knowledge. Studies about what are dreams are popular in universities and research facilities.
Why Do We Dream?
Well, we’ve explained what are dreams and their technical nature. But why do we dream? There are different possible explanations.
- Researchers say that dreaming is an offline memory reprocessing. We consolidate learning and memory tasks when we dream.
- Dreaming could also be a cognitive simulation of real life experiences.
- It’s also a unique state of consciousness where we incorporate three dimensions: the experience of the present, processing of past events, and preparation for the future.
Do We Need Dreams?
According to some researchers, dreams don’t really have any purpose or meaning. Others say they are necessary for mental, emotional, and physical health. There are studies that show the importance of what are dreams to our health and well-being. Experts also say that they help us solve problems, incorporate memories, and process our emotions. For a good night’s sleep and healthy dreams, check out these top 10 best dream foam bedding mattresses.