Why do we dream?
Dreams are the images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur in our mind when we are sleeping. It is unclear, why we dream; however, there are various theories available.
Dreams are a series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur in our mind unconsciously when we are sleeping. Scientists believe that all mammals dream, but it is a bit difficult to prove that.
Dreams usually occur during the REM stage of sleep, and can last from a few seconds to 20 minutes. The average person has three to five dreams per night; however some people may have up to seven dreams. It is unclear why we dream; however, there are various theories available. Some researchers believe that dreams serve no real purpose, while others believe that dreaming is essential to mental, emotional and physical well-being.
Some of the theories for dreams:
- According to Sigmund Freud, dreams represent unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. Freud states that the aggressive and sexual instincts of people that are repressed from conscious awareness make way into our dreams.
- According to the activation-synthesis model of dreaming by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley, the circuits in the brain become activated during REM sleep. This allows areas of the limbic system, such as the amygdala and hippocampus, to become active. The limbic system is involved in emotions, sensations and memories, which is what we see during our dreams.
- Another theory states that ‘dreams are the result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep.’ The brain is trying to make sense of anything and everything we see, hear, feel, etc. when we are awake.
- Another theory states that ‘dreams serve to 'clean up' clutter from the mind, much like clean-up operations in a computer, refreshing the mind to prepare for the next day.’
- Another model states that dreams function as a form of psychotherapy in which the ‘dreamer is able to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment.’
- The Evolutionary Theory states that dreaming helps us practice responses to threatening situations. Dreams, especially the ones where we are being chased, or fighting an enemy, stimulates our ‘fight or flight’ response.
- There are also various other theories that state that there is no purpose of dreams, and that they are random firings of a brain during unconsciousness.