Why Do We Dream When We Sleep?

2 min read

why do we dream
Khadija Rahman
A spirited writer who looks at the world with an inquisitive mind. Passionate about many things, she is an active campaigner for women’s rights and wants to change the world, one article at a time.

Why do we dream? If you ask someone what is it that they dream of, they will tell you about big mansions, sports cars, making a difference in the world, etc. But when you ask them what they dream of when they are asleep, you will get the most random answers. However, the reasons behind the dreams are not so random after all.

We love our sleep. Snuggling in our favorite blankets and dozing off is perhaps one of the joyous gifts of life. But, when we are sleeping, what goes on in our heads that makes us dream? Sometimes, dreams are meaningful while sometimes they make no sense. Let’s dive in a little bit to see why we dream when we sleep?

Why do we dream? Types Of dreams

Therapeutic dreams

You must have heard the saying that time heals all wounds. But there are some wounds that a good night’s sleep might heal too! When you are asleep and face an emotional issue in your dream, your brain makes connections that you might not make while you are awake. This is because when you are in the REM cycle, you do not experience any anxiety. The REM or rapid-eye-movement starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and repeats throughout the night. 

Also, some emotional and memory-related structures get activated during the REM cycle. This allows the brain to function without any kind of stress-inducing chemicals. This allows the re-process of traumatic events in a safe and calm environment to get you different results. 

Inspirational dreams

Many artists have credited their dreams for their popular songs. Paul McCartney woke up one night, went to his piano and played a song that would go on to be one of the most-covered songs of all times. He spent many months trying to figure out if he had unintentionally plagiarized the song. But the song ‘Yesterday’ was an original masterpiece that he created while sleeping. 

When you sleep, the logical part of your brain rests as well. This allows your creative juices to flow without any restrictions or fear of judgment. It makes one wonder how much we might be restricting ourselves without even knowing, doesn’t it?

Declutter your brain

Dreaming is often a great way for the brain to re-organize everything. The brain tries to categorize all the memories that it can recall into important as well as unimportant information. Then, the unimportant stuff gets discarded as well. How neat is that? 

According to research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/), sleeping helps to retain memories. If you learn something new and then go to bed, the chances of you retaining that memory increase.

Bad dreams

Have you ever woken up from a nightmare or a dream that felt too real? Dreams like these are more common than one would imagine. As it turns out, the amygdala (fight-or-flight response) gets activated during the REM cycle. Bad dreams are often a way the brain practices for the future and prepares in case something goes wrong. You could say it is like a rehearsal for experiencing feelings that include terror and even anxiety. 

why do we dream

Nightmares seem to spring from an angry part of the brain that prepares us to survive in a threatening situation. Sometimes, bad dreams occur just to wake us up because our body is uncomfortable. You might have woken up from a bad dream to realize that you slept in a weird position or felt super cold. It is an abrupt way of your brain telling you that something is wrong.

Have you ever struggled to remember what your dream was about? It can be rather frustrating especially if you had a good dream that you want to recall. This happens because the part of the brain that is responsible for processing information and storing it is inactive. One of the best chances of you remembering the dream is if you recall it right after waking up. 

Dreams can be described as your brain showing you movies of different kinds. The world of dreams is spread far and wide. But, what makes it interesting is that it is often a way for the brain to talk to us.  It is grappling to know that the same brain which struggles to remember minute details throughout the day takes you through vivid dreams at night to prepare you for life-threatening situations. Now that we know why we dream, what movie will your brain show you tonight?