23 Jun Why we dream
Dreams are the thoughts, images and emotions that you experience during sleep. They are a universal human experience (although many mammals dream as well) that occurs between 3-6 times per night, although some people do not remember their dreams at all. In fact, 95% of dreams are forgotten after getting out of bed.
Given the amount that we dream and that everyone dreams, you might think that answering the question, “Why do we dream?” would have a simple very well known answer by now. But it doesn’t. Theories vary and the question can even be answered at two different levels: one from a neurological level: What causes dreaming in the brain? Versus one from a more psychological perspective: What function do dreams serve in our lives? The neurological question has yet to be answered completely while the psychological question has caused much speculation.
Some researchers believe that dreams help us to sort through all the information that our minds are bombarded with during the day. What should we remember? What should we forget? Participants in a dream study who were taking a language course actually showed more dream activity than those who were not, which gives some support for this theory.
Another theory is that dreams help us to sort through our emotions. Chances are if you have had an emotional day or are worried about something, you may have an unsettling dream. You might specifically dream about your worry or you may just have a worried fill dream. Regardless, the frequency with which our dreams reflect our emotional days provides some support to this theory as well.
Other people have speculated (guessed) that dreams really don’t serve any function at all, that they are just a weird by-product of our brains shutting down and randomly firing various neurons during sleep.
No matter your particular theory about why we dream, one intriguing fact about dreams is this: Throughout history, musicians have composed great musical scores during the dream state while poets have awakened with difficult to finish poems completed. Even scientists have made profound discoveries during dream states.
POST QUESTION: What role do you think dreams play? What is their function?