Dreams – Ancient Times
In the ancient times dreams were an influential component of life, they guided political, social and everyday decisions. Great thinkers have always had their thoughts about the function and meaning of dreams. Dreams were largely in the spiritual realm until Aristotle and Plato developed the drive related hypothesis that was later expanded on by the European psychoanalysts of the 19th and 20th centuries. This defined dreaming as a way to act out unconscious desires in a safe setting.
Dreams – The Modern World
All the research in the world, the best of modern technology and all the perks of the latest and greatest innovations, and we still don’t know much about dreaming. We are still not sure why we dream. There is one certainty however, and that is that dreaming is something that the vast majority of humans do every single night of their lives.
Interest in modern dream research was revived when rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was founded. Scientists believe that we typically spend more than two hours dreaming each night and experience our most vivid dreams during REM sleep.
Why Do We Dream?
Mankind has always asked the question “why do we dream?” Scientists believe dreaming helps facilitate necessary brain processing, when people dream the brain is stimulated in the learning and memory regions. We know REM sleep is when the brain sorts and processes information, picking up old images and new information and scientists believe this reorganization is actually our dreams. The enormous amount of neuronal activity occurring while we sleep could be the reason we dream and our dreams are just a by-product of this biological function. Of course scientists aren’t too sure of exactly why, the only thing they can be certain of is that most people dream, even if they can’t remember them.
Do Animals Dream?
Research has shown that while most mammals and birds do show signs of REM sleep, the stage where dreams usually occur, they don’t know if they actually dream at this time. As we can’t simply ask a Koala if its dreams, we remain none the wiser as to whether they do or they don’t.
Jim Pagel, MD, Director of the Sleep Disorders Centre of Southern Colorado said, “If dreaming has an actual function, it really supports why we spend a third of our lives sleeping.”
(Photo Courtesy of lifehacker.com)