Remember the last time you had a dream? When you wake up in a panic in the middle of the night it is usually from a bad dream. But do you ever wonder why those bad dreams happen? Some people think that dreams are based off of things that happen during the day or something that is bothering you in your subconscious. I think dreams are so interesting and fascinating because they don’t make sense. The fact that we have our own little world going on in our head as soon as we fall asleep is fascinating to me. But even though it is all whimsical and fun, there is a scientific reason behind dreams that explains why we have the dreams that we do.
“Your limbic system (hippocampus and fornix––the wormy tangle all up in the middle of your brain) is the primary control center for your emotions, and it becomes especially active during your dreams.” (Sanford) This explains why there are many emotions during dreams and it can deal with danger. You can also dream during “non-rem” sleep. REM sleep is the stage closest to waking, though, so you’re more likely to remember REM dreams. The different stages of sleep will result in different types of dreams. In one study, a lab-induced “pins and needles” sensation manifested as a problematic shoe fitting in the subject’s dream, while more intense pain can produce nightmares wherein the dreamer tries to escape the source of their pain, literally and metaphorically.
Its crazy to think that dreams have a logical explanation behind them and it makes understanding why nightmares occur much easier. Nightmares tend to occur in the last third of the night when REM sleep is the strongest. Nightmares in adults can be spontaneous, but are generally triggered by psychological factors like anxiety and depression. Many affects from nightmares can occur that include sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome which can cause people to experience chronic nightmares.
There is also a religious aspect related to dreams. “Early civilizations thought of dreams as a medium between our earthly world and that of the gods” (Van Der Linden). This religious aspect relates to the fact of the theory that dreams have a prophetic meaning behind them. Dreams are a crazy thing to think about because as we sleep we basically watch a movie in our heads
Dreams are also strongly connected to our memories. Dreams can twist a memory into a completely new memory. Memories are always in our minds, therefore this can be a reason that we dream of old memories. But also with memories there comes the phenomenon of deja vu. Personally I have dreamt about something and months later it has actually happened. Dreams are figments of our imagination of our bottomless minds.