Dream On, Dreamer!
Written by Raluca Barbu
“Oh, no! They are right behind me. Why are they chasing me? What do they want from me? Run! Just run! They have almost caught me, almost. I must escape somehow… I must fly. Higher and higher. What a relief, I am safe! Ufff, it was just a dream!”
All of us have experienced them. Dreams are said to be an array of images, sounds, emotions, thoughts that we have during our sleep. They seem to be tangible and while dreaming one can feel for example scared, happy or confused, just as in the reality, but of course, not everything we dream about corresponds to normal life. Most of the stories in our sleep are not long-lasting, just a few seconds in real time, although they can also last up to half an hour. A person can have between three and five dreams per night, but most of them can be hardly remembered, as after 10 minutes after waking up one forgets 90% of the dream. It is more probable that we keep in mind parts of the dream we just had before awaking. This way, we spend 6 years of our life dreaming.
As Sigmund Freud stated, this entire process happens in our subconsciousness. So, we are not aware of what we are dreaming and cannot control the way the events occur in our sleep. The Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst also explained that dreams show one’s deepest fears, wishes or thoughts. It is like all the insecurities or problems that you have are being revealed in their truest and sincerest form, so that you could understand them properly. After sleeping, you usually feel more comfortable with yourself and that is because, as the English saying goes: “night is the mother of counsel”, most of the time, if we have something that bothers us, we find a solution to the specific situation, or simply do not think about it that much anymore.
Almost all of dreams happen in the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. It is the part when the brain is at its highest activity and it is almost like you are awake. The heartbeats fasten and you breathe more rapidly. The first round of REM happens approximately 90 minutes after you fall asleep and its next periods will last increasingly longer. This kind of sleep alternates with Non-REM phases when the sleep is very deep and the body regains its energy. Studies have proved that sleep is very important for humans, but also dreams play a significant role. Those who were awakened just before the REM stage of sleep, were more exposed to developing anxiety, depression, concentrating issues or weight fluctuations.
Dreams have also something to do with one’s memory. During your sleep you can see many faces that look strange to you, but after all, dreams are just a distorted mirror of life. Although you do not remember them, all the persons that appear in your dream, are people that you once met like a shop-assistant for example. Many people try not to forget their dreams, but it is impossible. Scientists say that all the stories in our sleep are being stored in our brains, but we are the ones who do not know how to recall them. Dream diaries are a manner to access our memory, as by jotting them down, we can see where the problem is or what we truly want, but also find elements that can activate the memory.
Lucid dreaming is a particular form of sleeping when the person is somewhere in the middle between being awake and REM phase. During it you are conscious and can change the way things happen. The positive aspect is that you can have an insight perspective of your inner self and can understand better what worries you. However, it is healthier to let your dreams occur naturally. An interesting fact is that children under the age of 3 years old do not dream about themselves, but have more nightmares, between the age of 5 and 8, than adults have. Furthermore, blind people dream, too. If they become blind during their life, they will continue to dream normally, but those who were born like that, dream based on sounds, smells or emotions. Also animals dream and this can be observed by the way they move their paws during sleep.
In the end, we still cannot understand and explain the complexity of dreams and their meaning, although scientists made so many researches on this topic that continues to fascinate the human beings. And after all, dreams are a way to unwittingly connect with our true selves by having a proper introspection. There is nothing more important than to know and to be happy in your body, but also to be pleased with who you are.
This article was featured in our 8th issue.