Dreams are something we’ve all experienced, but have you ever wondered why we dream?
What are dreams?
Quite simply, dreams are stories or images that our brain creates while we are asleep. These stories can range from pleasant and entertaining, to strange and even frightening.
Scientists still don’t fully understand dreams — why we dream, what causes them and what they mean. However, they are beginning to discover some answers.
When do we dream?
Whether you remember them or not, all of us dream every night. Dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is one of the five stages of sleep which occurs in short episodes about 90 minutes apart. During this time, our brain is almost as active as it is when we’re awake. Our breathing can become fast and irregular and our heart rate increases. We may also exhibit rapid moving of the eyes, and twitching of the face and limbs.
REM sleep usually lasts for around 10 minutes, with each stage of REM sleep getting progressively longer. It’s believed that each dream can last between 5 to 20 minutes.
How often do we dream?
It might be hard to believe, but each of us dreams between 3 and 6 times each night! However, it’s normal to forget around 95% of your dreams by the time you get out of bed in the morning. It’s believed that we only remember our dream if we wake up while we’re dreaming. However, we can forget them quite quickly because they’re not laid down in a ‘memory store’, like events that occur while we’re awake.
Why do we dream?
Ah! This is a universal question. And while scientists have a few theories as to why we dream, no one is exactly sure. Some current theories include:
- They are a component of memory processing that help the learning process
- They are simply a reflection of events that occurred while we were awake
- We dream to sort through difficult, complicated or unsettling emotions and experiences
- They happen when the brain responds to biochemical changes and electrical impulses that happen while we’re asleep
- Dreams are the brain’s way of preparing itself to face threats, dangers and challenges.
What do dreams mean?
Scientists still disagree about the meaning of our dreams. Some believe they mean nothing, while others think they may be a kind of therapy that helps us deal with stress. And then there are people who believe that the contents of your dream are insights into your current life, and what the future holds.
However, the kind of dream you may give you some insight into why you’re dreaming. For example, nightmares can be caused by stress, fear, trauma, emotional difficulties, illness or even medications. Researchers have also found that sleeping in a room that’s too warm can also cause nightmares.
Sweet dreams…and a good night’s sleep
While it’s not possible to completely control your dreams, there are a few things you can do to have a better nights’ sleep — and possibly a more pleasant dreaming experience.
- Use the power of sound — background sounds like rainfall, crashing waves or rainforest sounds can help you relax and drift off to a deeper sleep.
- Harness the power of smell — Lavender and vanilla have calming and relaxing properties.
- Eat wisely — avoid spicy, acidic and foods high in fat before bed, as they can interfere with your sleep quality, and your ability to enter REM sleep.
- Check your temperature — Ensure your bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold, and that you have some ventilation, otherwise you’re more likely to have nightmares.
- Be comfortable — Invest in a good, supportive mattress and comfortable bed linen, as this will help you relax and drift off to sleep.
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All our mattresses are waterproof, antibacterial, hypo-allergenic, stain and odour resistant, and dust mite resistant. And because we’ve got one to suit every one, you can rest easy, knowing your entire family is well-supported. Explore our range today.