This is a discussion about why do we dream and trying to understand what really is going on in our brains when we begin to dream. The signs of dreaming are known as Oneirology which was a term that did not exist for most of history. The reasons for the nonexistence are simple because dreams can’t be seen, held, tasted or even experienced. People who are dreaming generally give out unreliable results when asked what they were dreaming about. Scientists estimate that people forget dreams within the initial 10 minutes of having them. Given that dreams are forgotten in a short span of time the question about why we even dream is a subject that raised questions in the minds of researchers that began conducting studies.
It was only in 1952 that researchers stumbled upon something amazing which gave them a clue in the University of Chicago. Researchers discovered a unique type of electrical activity which occurs during some stages when a person is sleeping. When the people participating in the study were woken up they instantly reported they had been dreaming and researchers also observed that the people’s eyeballs were darting around beneath their eyelids and this aspect was quite visible to the observers. The movements of the eyeballs when sleeping is known as the REM sleep.
People who are experiencing REM sleep are usually mimicking the activity of their brains when they are awake. However, the brain is not producing the chemicals essential to allow the body to move around. This is perhaps the reason why people can dream about flying around or even having encounters with ninjas without the ability to move their bodies. People who suffer from disorders in achieving complete REM sleep do move around and act out their dreams before going back to bed again. At the same time, it is possible for people in REM sleep to wake up and yet be unable to move around or even be a dream and be fully aware of it. This phenomenon is known as lucid dreaming.
Researchers were able to conduct studies on mice to understand the reasons about why we dream and were able to derive conclusive evidence about how mice reacted. They were also able to discover that the unconscious part of our brain is organizing our memories while we sleep and strengthening connections with the events that occurred before.
Some researchers have a different belief that dreams have a primary purpose to prepare us for threats because the prevalent emotions felt during claims are negative and even include anxiety and anger within them. The researchers believe that this is a way of the human body preparing us against threats which in the earlier days were quite common and had to be dealt with by people regularly. The brain is believed to simulate us and prepare us for the anxiety which may befall us the following day.
The theories discussed in this article are barely skirting the surface of the reality of what dreams really are and there is no conclusive evidence about whether people dream just because they are sleeping or is it a method of preparing themselves for the day ahead? We can only wait until more evidence is made available to us by researchers to understand why do we dream.