Why do we dream?




If you write down enough dreams in your dream journal, you can just at any point read through them before bed and drastically increase your chances of remembering the dream. On nights were I have a free day the next day, I will usually do this so I can add one or more dream to my journal, thus increasing the effectiveness of the technique.








dream is a succession of imagesideasemotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded historyDream interpretation is the attempt at drawing meaning from dreams and searching for an underlying message. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology. 









Evolutionary psychology theories


Numerous theories state that dreaming is a random by-product of REM sleep physiology and that it does not serve any natural purpose. Flanagan claims that "dreams are evolutionary epiphenomena" and they have no adaptive function. "Dreaming came along as a free ride on a system designed to think and to sleep. Hobson, for different reasons, also considers dreams epiphenomena. He believes that the substance of dreams have no significant influence on waking actions, and most people go about their daily lives perfectly well without remembering their dreams.


Hobson proposed the activation-synthesis theory, which states that "there is a randomness of dream imagery and the randomness synthesizes dream-generated images to fit the patterns of internally generated stimulations". This theory is based on the physiology of REM sleep, and Hobson believes dreams are the outcome of the forebrain reacting to random activity beginning at the brainstem. The activation-synthesis theory hypothesizes that the peculiar nature of dreams is attributed to certain parts of the brain trying to piece together a story out of what is essentially bizarre information.





However, evolutionary psychologists believe dreams serve some adaptive function for survival. Deirdre Barrett describes dreaming as simply "thinking in a different biochemical state" and believes people continue to work on all the same problems—personal and objective—in that state. Her research finds that anything—math, musical composition, business dilemmas—may get solved during dreaming. In a related theory, which Mark Blechner terms "Oneiric Darwinism," dreams are seen as creating new ideas through the generation of random thought mutations. Some of these may be rejected by the mind as useless, while others may be seen as valuable and retained.





Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo posits that dreams have evolved for "threat simulation" exclusively. According to the Threat Simulation Theory he proposes, during much of human evolution physical and interpersonal threats were serious, giving a reproductive advantage to those who survived them. Therefore, dreaming evolved to replicate these threats and continually practice dealing with them. In support of this theory, Revonsuo shows that contemporary dreams comprise much more threatening events than people meet in daily non-dream life, and the dreamer usually engages appropriately with them. It is suggested by this theory that dreams serve the purpose of allowing for the rehearsal of threatening scenarios in order to better prepare an individual for real-life threats.

According to Tsoukalas (2012), the biology of dreaming is related to the reactive patterns elicited by predatorial encounters (especially the tonic immobility reflex), a fact that lends support to evolutionary theories claiming that dreams specialize in threat avoidance or emotional processing.





Other hypotheses


There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:
·         Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
·         Ferenczi proposed that the dream when told may communicate something that is not being said outright.
·         Dreams regulate mood.
·         Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
·         LaBerge and DeGracia have suggested that dreams may function, in part, to recombine unconscious elements within consciousness on a temporary basis by a process they term "mental recombination", in analogy with genetic recombination of DNA. From a bio-computational viewpoint, mental recombination may contribute to maintaining an optimal information processing flexibility in brain information networks.
·         Herodotus in his The Histories, writes "The visions that occur to us in dreams are, more often than not, the things we have been concerned about during the day.







Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable. The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, and some may have up to seven; however, most dreams are immediately or quickly forgotten. Dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM.








Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and culture. Many endorse the Freudian theory of dreams – that dreams reveal insight into hidden desires and emotions. Other prominent theories include those suggesting that dreams assist in memory formation, problem-solving, or simply are a product of random brain activation. The earliest recorded dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5000 years, in Mesopotamia, where they were documented on clay tablets. In the Greek and Roman periods, the people believed that dreams were direct messages from deities or deceased persons and that they predicted the future. Some cultures practiced dream incubation with the intention of cultivating dreams that are of prophecy.




Sigmund Freud, who developed the psychological discipline of psychoanalysis, wrote extensively about dream theories and their interpretations in the early 1900s. He explained dreams as manifestations of one's deepest desires and anxieties, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions. Furthermore, he believed that virtually every dream topic, regardless of its content, represented the release of sexual tension. In The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), Freud developed a psychological technique to interpret dreams and devised a series of guidelines to understand the symbols and motifs that appear in our dreams. In modern times, dreams have been seen as a connection to the unconscious mind. They range from normal and ordinary to overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can have varying natures, such as being frightening, exciting, magicalmelancholic, adventurous, or sexual. The events in dreams are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is self-aware. Dreams can at times make a creative thought occur to the person or give a sense of inspiration

Thanks to Wikipedia: Dream
How to Lucid Dream - Lucid Dreaming

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