February 17, 2021 4 min read

Dreams are a mystery. Not only in their content but why we have dreams? Nobody really knows. Is there a reason why you you dreamed of a dog pushing a baby carriage filled with whipped cream down the street last night? Some would say, “Absolutely!” and proceed to interpret it, while others poo-poo the idea and chalk it up to your previous day’s activities involving the three subjects.

Whatever the case, you have to admit, it’s kind of fun to live an alternate life while getting a few Z’s, no? Let’s take a deeper dive into the theories behind dreams, what they are, why they happen, and how we can get more of that fun alternate universe.

The Science Behind Dreams

The boring scientific definition of a dream is: “Subconscious imaginings containing sounds, images, and other sensations occurring while you sleep.”

Well, duh. But what are they really? Or, I suppose we could ask, why the heck are we living these sometimes super-vivid alternate realities only to wake up to the usual hum-drum of our day-to-day? (I mean, wouldn’t you rather be riding a dolphin in outer space?)

The answer to that question?

We’ve already told you. Nobody really knows. Researchers still don’t understand why we dream, but here are a few theories:

 

  • Your dreams are therapists: Hey, that’s kind of nice! You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars to figure out your life if you just understand your dreams! (Good luck.) Some say your dreams serve as avenues to confronting life’s emotional difficulties.

According to these same folks, because your brain operates at a more emotional level while dreaming, your brain is better able to make emotional connections while dreaming.

  • Your dreams teach you survival skills: You’ve likely heard of the “fight or flight” response, right? Well, that response stems from the part of your brain called the amygdala. While you dream, your amygdala fires on all cylinders.

This theory suggests your brain is getting you ready for a threat while you sleep. The good news is unless you have REM Behavioral Disorder, your body automatically paralyzes your muscles during your dreaming sessions, so you don’t actually physically fight or flight.

 

  • Your dreams are your muse: Some say dreams help set your creative tendencies ablaze. There are many artists out there who site dreams as their muse for some of their most creative pieces.

When you’re dreaming, you lack the boring part of thinking called “logic.” So perhaps while you sleep, that logic goes out the window, allowing your brain to work to its creative tendencies to its fullest.

  • Your dreams aid in memory: This theory holds some more substantial weight. There has been lots of research into REM sleep (when your dreams typically occur), and according to several studies, it’s when your brain turns events of the day and things you’ve learned into memories.
  • Your dreams are your housekeeper: Some researchers believe that dreaming is your brain’s way of tidying up. They say that when you dream, your brain clears away the partial, unnecessary, and erroneous information.
  • Your dreams are pointless: Ah yes. There’s always got to be a party-pooper. A select few scientists believe dreams are simply a by-product of sleep, and they serve absolutely no purpose. (We’re not a fan of this view.)

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When You Dream

While scientists still haven’t nailed down exactly what we dream and what our dreams mean, they do know approximately when you dream. While you could dream during any stage of sleep, your most vivid dreams occur during the fourth stage: REM sleep.

On average, we dream about two to four hours per night, depending on how long you sleep and how often you enter into REM sleep. During this sleep stage, your brain activity goes from low and slow to high and super active.

The dreams that occur outside of the REM sleep stage tend to be more coherent, containing thoughts and memories. In contrast, REM dreams are the strange, out-of-the-ordinary types. Because REM sleep happens right before your brain switches gears back into the first stage of sleep, NREM1, when you are more easily woken up, these fantastical REM dreams are often the ones you recall shortly after waking up.

Remembering Your Dreams

We all dream, but we don’t all remember them. In fact, despite some of the fantastic, I’ll-never-forget-this dreams we experience during REM sleep, 95% of all dreams are forgotten after we wake up.

Why? Again, we don’t really know. (Geez, do we actually “know” anything about dreams??) One theory points to the fact that so many changes in our brain happen while we dream that when we wake up, we don’t have the capacity to store what we dreamed about to short or long-term memory.

Why You Need to Dream More

Well, this is sort of a trick statement. We think you should dream more because most dreams occur during REM sleep. And REM sleep is super-restorative. Studies show that those who don’t get enough REM sleep are sleepy, grumpy, and forgetful the next day. So despite scientists not knowing what dreams do for us, we know the time they typically occur is essential to our overall health.

And to get more REM sleep, you could use a weighted blanket.

Woah, that came out of left field!

Not really. See, weighted blankets deliver Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), which helps your body release the natural hormones to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The DPS provided by a weighted blanket is a slight, comfortable pressure over your entire body. It basically feels like a nice, welcoming hug. And who doesn’t want that?

When you stay asleep and allow your body to go through all four sleep cycles properly, you’ll not only dream more because you’ll experience REM sleep more often, but you’ll also feel fantastic when you wake up!

And again, who doesn’t want that?


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