Mesopotamian kings recorded and interpreted their dreams on wax tablets in the third millennium BCE. A dream book with over a hundred common dreams and their interpretations was written by the Ancient Egyptians a thousand years later. And we haven’t stopped trying to figure out why we dream even in the intervening years.
So, despite extensive scientific study, technological development, and perseverance, many questions remain unanswered, albeit there are some intriguing possibilities.
We dream to fulfill our wishes
In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud claimed that all of our dreams, even our nightmares, are made up of imagery from our regular conscious life. They also have a symbolic meaning that has to do with the accomplishment of our subconscious desires. According to Freud’s theory, everything we recall after waking up from a dream is a metaphor. That includes our unconscious urges, desires, and thoughts. Freud felt that by examining those recalled details, the unconscious material would be made conscious to our conscious mind, allowing us to confront and treat the psychological problems resulting from its suppression.
We dream to remember
Sleep is beneficial for improving performance on some mental tasks, but dreaming while you sleep is even better. In 2010, scientists discovered that people who had taken a nap and dreamed about a challenging 3D maze performed significantly better on their second attempt. In fact, they performed up to ten times better than those who slept but did not dream about the maze. Those who just analyzed the maze when awake in between attempts. According to research, some memory processes can only occur when we are asleep, and dreams are a sign that these processes are happening.
We dream to forget
The architecture of the brain contains roughly 10,000 trillion neuronal connections. Everything you believe and do influences how you are made. Reverse learning is a 1983 neurobiological hypothesis of dreaming. It proposes that your neocortex analyses these neural connections while you sleep and deletes any that are superfluous. Without this process of unlearning, which gives rise to dreams, your brain would become overwhelmed by pointless connections. Parasitic thoughts might interfere with the critical thinking you must perform while you are awake.
We dream to keep our brains working
According to the ongoing activation theory, your brain’s constant drive to develop and consolidate long-term memories is what causes your dreams. The generations of data from your brain’s memory bank are therefore automatically triggered when external input drops below a particular level. Such as while you are asleep. These generations of data manifest themselves to you in the form of the thoughts and feelings you experience in your dreams. To put it another way, your dreams may be a haphazard screen saver your brain activates to prevent complete sleep.
We dream to rehearse
Dreams involving dangerous and threatening situations are very common. The primitive instinct rehearsal theory holds that the content of a dream is significant to its purpose. These nightmares let you exercise your fight-or-flight reflexes and keep them reliable in case you ever need them in the real world. Whether you’re fleeing from a ninja in a dark alley or being chased through the woods by a bear. However, it need not necessarily be unpleasant.
We dream to heal
Stress neurotransmitters in the brain are much less active during the REM stage of sleep. Even during dreams of traumatic experiences, leading some researchers theorize that one purpose of dreaming is to take the edge off painful experiences to allow for psychological healing. Reviewing traumatic events in your dreams with less mental stress may grant you a clearer perspective. It can also enhance the ability of the brain to process psychologically healthy ways.
So these are some reasons why we dream. Let me know in the comments about more.
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