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Why do we dream?

By Anonymous September 19, 2014 - 11:53am
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Dreams fascinate me. Some I remember vividly while some I only remember parts of. And some nights it seems like I don't dream at all. Why causes dreams? Are they from the brain? Why do we dream?

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Hi Anon!

Thank you so much for sharing your questions about dreams with the EmpowHER community! I share the same experiences with you, in fact the other night, I had an unpleasant dream-one that I remembered vividly when I woke up! It was about something that had been troubling me over a year ago and it really stuck with me all day. In fact, I was pretty depressed and discouraged the whole day and couldn't shake my bad mood.

Even in the 21st century and a sea of research, no one can really explain why we dream.  It has been said that Aristotle and Plato developed a hypothesis as to why we dream. This hypothesis defines dreaming as a way to act out unconscious desires in a safe or “unreal” setting, presumably because to do so in reality would be unacceptable or even detrimental.

It has been thought that the brain was inactive while sleeping, but studies proved that theory wrong. In fact, the brain is very active during the action of REM sleeping. 

Study participants who were awakened during REM sleep invariably recalled bizarre and vivid dreams. If awakened while eyes were motionless (non-REM sleep), participants rarely recalled dreaming.

Rosalind Cartwright, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago believes that dreams are the mechanism whereby the brain incorporates memories, solves problems and deals with emotions. In this way, she maintains, dreams are essential for our emotional health.

Anon, the interesting thing to me is that even though scientifically we don't know why we dream, its crazy that we spend a third of our lives doing it! Don't you wish we knew why?? :-)

Hope this answer helped. Feel free to share some of your thoughts with the community on dreaming...it's a very interesting topic!



September 19, 2014 - 12:20pm
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