Why do we dream?

You may or may not know this, but im on holiday right now. I’m in a small town called Cheltenham, which is about two hours outside of London. I’m spending some of my holiday here attending a literary festival. I know i know, I’m a massive nerd.

Today i attended a session called ‘Why we dream’. Two dream scientists spent an hour talking about their study of dreams, and then answering questions. It was really interesting.

So I thought I’d share a couple of dream insights i found fascinating:

– it used to be thought that we only dreamed during REM sleep, but they now know that we actually dream through all the phases of sleep.

– people claim to dream in black and white more in places and times where black and white television is more relevant and prolific. Where people watch more telly and movies in full colour more dreams are reported in full colour.

– the specific design of the sewing needle came to its inventor in a dream. (there are apparently tons of inventions that came to the inventors in dreams but that was the one he mentioned).

– Dreams are a stage for your subconscious.

– Water in dreams can symbolise emotions.

– Freud thought the dream was the trash can for the psyche.

– Critical thinking and memory are disabled in dreams. Without critical thinking we allow ourselves to dream all those bizarre things that we dream. And because memory is disabled we struggle to remember our dreams even just a short while after waking up.

– Dreams come from two areas of the brain, the visual imagination and the memory part. People who have been in accidents and damaged those parts of the brain don’t dream, and when they do it becomes an indication to doctors that they may be recovering some use in those parts of their brains.

(As I said in the previous point, you don’t use your memory function to remember your dreams as you have them, you do however use your memory to create your dreams. That is why so many of your dreams will include something that happened to you yesterday, or someone you met in your past. Its your visual memory that’s in use, not the sticky part of your memory, the one that stitches in your experiences.)

– Cortisol is a neuro chemical hormone that is transmitted while you sleep and it aids memory. Your body tends to supply more cortisol in the moments before you wake up in the morning, which is why when you wake up you remember the previous fifteen minutes of your dreams, and then everything before that just tends to disappear.

– The scientists advised that if you want to explore your dreams then the later you wake up the more you’ll remember. They also said you must write your dreams down the second you wake up. The longer you wait the more detail you’ll lose.

There’s just something about dreams that really fascinates me. They said that 95% of dreams are of the bizarre kind, in that they don’t resemble anything like waking life at all.

Sweet dreams.

3 responses to “Why do we dream?”

  1. Kaloo says:

    My most common dream is one of being chased by unknown people, and instead of running I stand there in a panic with my hands in the air, waiting for lift-off like Superman.
    As they get closer, I start kicking my heels waiting to fly…
    and at the very last minute, I fly!!
    True story.

  2. Paige says:

    Kaloo, my latest is that you stop commenting on my blog posts okay so its less of a dream and more of a nightmare. You must Neva stop, see!

  3. Kaloo says:

    The Mayan calender has predicted many fateful events, but of my not commenting on any of your blog posts they have been suspiciously silent…

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