MAY. 3, 2021
I think one of the most fascinating things people know virtually nothing about is why people dream. But if you are mindful enough to google the question, nothing but theories and hypotheses come up in your search.
I think one of the most fascinating things people know virtually nothing about is why people dream. But if you are mindful enough to google the question, nothing but theories and hypotheses come up in your search. I watched a Ted Talk exactly a year ago called “Why do we dream”, and although it was filmed in 2015, I checked the theories with a few other recent websites and all the information was essentially the same.
The first theory is that we dream to fulfill our wishes. So when we dream we pick up a small collection of memories from the day and those symbolize what we subconsciously desire.
The second was we dream to remember. Many studies show that if you dream about an activity or subject you're working on, you are bound to do better on it during a performance in the day. Researchers have found certain memory processes in your brain can only happen when you're asleep, so dreams are a signal that those processes are happening.
The third is that we dream to forget. We have trillions of neural connections in our brains that are created by thinking and doing things, and during sleep, our neocortex reviews and throws out those connections that are unnecessary to have, and what is being thrown out is seen in our dreams. This is called reverse learning, and according to the theory if you didn’t go through this process your brain would be overrun with useless information.
The fourth is that we dream to keep our brains working. The continual activation theory describes our brains’ need to constantly be creating long-term memories so we can function. So when we aren’t taking in experiences (during sleep) our brains automatically start storing data from the day into memories and that backup is seen in our heads as the feelings and thoughts that cause our dreams.
The fifth is we dream to rehearse things we might have to do in real life, for example, escape dangerous and threatening situations to practice our fight or flight instinct.
The sixth is we dream to heal. Our stress neurotransmitter is less active during sleep, so our dreams are our minds' way of taking the edge off painful experiences and relieve mental stress. We can deal with healing from these experiences during our subconscious so we don’t get too overwhelmed with dealing with them while awake.
Lastly, the seventh is that we dream to solve problems. When we dream, we aren’t limited by reality and can formulate solutions without the boundaries of real life.
Now isn’t that neat?