Why Do We Dream: Mysteries of Our Nighttime Visions

Topics: Sleep Cycles, REM Sleep, Dream

"Why do we dream?" - It is a question that has fascinated scientists, philosophers, and dreamers alike for centuries. Dreams that occur during sleep, have sparked numerous theories and interpretations throughout history. From Freud's psychoanalytic perspective to modern neuroscience research, the quest to understand the purpose and meaning of dreams continues to intrigue and captives us.

Complications of COPD

Circulating from the wires of our consciousness, tales of the night called dreams have captured human curiosity for centuries. They are the silent films of our waking brains, often forgotten upon waking but with a profound impact on the tapestry of our lives. Dreams are not just our imagination which are a complex combination of memory, emotion and creative thinking and offer a unique window into the depths of our psyche, revealing insights into our deepest fears, desires and unprocessed emotions.

The latest scientific research is shedding light on the neural processes that occur during dreams. REM and non-REM sleep are phases of our sleep that affect our dream states and in contemporary versions of Freud and Jung, it is important to examine how fantasies, dreams, are captured in the window of our unconscious, the mirror that reflects our emotional state.

But dreams are not just personal experiences and they are too are deeply woven into the fabric of our culture, influencing art, literature and mythology across civilizations and study delves into the mysterious world of dreams, seeking answers to the perennial question, Why do we dream?


The science of dreaming

As we journey through the science of dreams and begin to gain insights that connect the complex workings of the human brain with the mystery of sleep, this book reveals the neural mechanisms underpinning our dreams, and provides us insight into how and why these fascinating nocturnal events unfold and the brain undergoes dramatic changes at night and when we sleep, our brain switches to different areas and each with a different brain activity and it is in these moments that the foundation of the dream is laid.

1. REM sleep: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, normally associated with lucid dreaming, has rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and temporary paralysis of major nerve groups It is during REM sleep that brain activity means waking activity, but the body remains still , a process we should not pretend to be dreaming You thought he could

2. Non-REM sleep: Multiple components of non-REM sleep are associated with less frequent sleep and recovery of motor function. During these times, dreams are less vivid and more fragmented.

3. Brain waves: The transition from wakefulness to deep sleep and REM sleep is characterized by changes in brain wave patterns, from active sleep-inducing beta waves to delta waves slowly falling into deep sleep and returning to faster REM sleep waves.


Sleep Cycle: Understanding the Rhythms of Dreaming

Naps, which usually last about 90 minutes, are repeated several times throughout the night. Each cycle includes non-REM and REM sleep phases, with REM phases prolonged as the night progresses and which is during this latter period of REM that some of the most intense dreams occur.

Recent advances in neuroscience shed new light on dreams and imagine technologies such as functional MRI which allow scientists to observe brain activity during sleep to identify areas that are active during dreaming and the studies suggest that dreaming may play a role in processing and consolidating memories, in particular in the emotional one.

Dreaming seems to be linked to our ability to process emotions, with the amygdala and hippocampus (areas of the brain involved in perception and memory) showing increased activity when we dream One study believes dreaming can help to solve problems creatively by enabling the brain to analyze and reconnect ideas and experiences in new ways and as we discover the complex connections in our brains during sleep, we are scientifically closer to understanding why we dream.


Why do we dream Psychology?

From the intricacies of physics in the nervous system and neurochemistry to the intricacies of psychology, dreams have long fascinated scholars and dreamers and it is important to examine the psychological mechanisms of dreaming by tracing the development of the mind from early pioneers to modern thinkers and exploring the historical perspective on dreams reveals the heart of why we dream and sheds light on the psychological significance of these nocturnal adventures.

1. Historical Perspective: Sigmund Freud argued that dreams are expressions of our deepest desires and anxieties, often associated with repressed childhood experiences He introduced the concept of dream symbolism, where objects in dreams become symbolic representations of hidden desires and thoughts. Carl Jung, on the other hand, departed from Freud, seeing dreams not only as individual expressions but as portals to the collective unconscious and it introduced the idea that archetypes, cosmic symbols, and themes were introduced in dreams in order to reflect common human experience and history.

2. Modern understanding: Psychoanalysis sees dreams as snapshots of a person's mental development and anxieties, suggesting that dream content is directly related to daily activities, concerns, and interests. With the activation of the synthesis hypothesis, proposed by J. Alan Hobson who suggests that dreams brain random neurons during REM sleep and the attempts to make sense of function confirm that dreams may not have meaning but are neural signals just a subjective interpretation of it.

3. Emotional Processing: Dreams are mostly viewed through therapeutic lenses because they help process and process emotional experiences and they provide a ‘safe space’ for the mind to process unresolved emotions and trauma. It can be a source of creativity and problem solving and by recombining memories and ideas in new ways, and perspectives can be offered that may not be readily available during waking hours and the nature and content of dreams can sometimes reveal mental health conditions, providing insight into conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

The words of a dream

Dream scene is a place where the subconscious mind paints stories with brush strokes of our deepest emotions, memories and experiences and the experts have explored the themes, and narratives that fill our dreams to reveal the complex meanings they can hold and by examining recurring themes and narratives in our dreams, we gain insight into why we dream about certain themes or situations. They often have recurring themes and ideas that touch on different cultures and individual experiences which includes:

  1. Pursuers: This theme often symbolizes the avoidance of a situation or emotion in waking life.
  2. Fall: Often associated with insecurity, lack of control or fear of failure.
  3. Flight: It can represent freedom, glory, or the desire to escape challenges.
  4. Tooth loss: They Often associated with appearance anxiety, thoughts or feelings of powerlessness.


Personal vs. Universal: Deciphering Dream Symbolism

Some of the dreams are almost universal in interpretation, others deeply personal and the meaning of dreams requires a balance between understanding common archetypes and recognizing individual experiences and emotions that give rise to unique symbols

Dream content is greatly influenced by personal experiences, fears, and aspirations and which is a symbol in a dream can have a specific, personal meaning that is unique to the dreamer’s life and experiences. These are common symbols and themes in the dreams of many cultures, and often reflect shared human experiences. Jung's concept of the collective unconscious explores in detail these universal symbols that appear in dreams across cultures.

  • Interpreting your dreams: Dreams are a deeply personal language in which symbolism and narrative combine to reveal the inner workings of our subconscious. The art of dream interpretation provides a unique lens through which to examine why we dream and what our dreams tell us. Dream interpretation requires a mixture of introspection, understanding of common dream symptoms, and personal life context.
  • Dream Recall: The first step in interpretation is to remember the dreams and the techniques such as keeping a dream journal at your bedside to record dreams when you wake up or using mindfulness before bedtime to improve dream recall can be effective.
  • Symbol Analysis: Analyze the symbols in your dreams and think about what they mean for you personally and think about the feelings, memories, and associations that these symbols create.
  • Context: Place your dream in your current life situation and the dreams often express our innermost thoughts with the feelings about situations or challenges.


The role of dream journals

Keeping a dream journal is a powerful tool in dream analysis and not only does it help you remember your dreams but it helps you recognize patterns and themes over time and now write down as much information about your dreams as possible, including the setting, characters, emotions, colors or even sounds. Look through your journal entries for symbols, themes or emotions that recur over time and the charts can give you insight into issues or concerns that are routinely occurring in your sleeping life. Use your dream journal as a starting point for deep thinking. How do the objects in your dreams relate to your waking life? What might be being revealed about your emotional state or not yet resolved?


The Impact of external factors on dreaming

The quilt of our dreams is not woven in isolation and with the understanding of how stress, life changes and factors affect our dreams brings us one step closer to answering the fascinating question of why we dream in these states and this volume explores how these external factors shape our dreams, revealing the complex ways in which our external world interacts with our subconscious realm

The ups and downs of our daily lives leave an indelible mark on the content and quality of our dreams.

Stress and anxiety: High levels of stress and anxiety can invade our dreams, often leading to intense and vivid dreams, including nightmares and the stressful times in life can manifest in dreams as the subject of persecution, disappearance, or arrest.

Significant life transitions: Significant life events, such as a new job, the loss of a loved one or a significant move can impact dream content in many ways, revealing our inner anxiety and anticipation of these changes revealed.

Sleep: Differences in sleep patterns and quality, such as from shift work or jet lag, can affect dream recall and intensity and with the sleep cycle disruption can lead to more fragmented and vivid dreams.


Medications and Substances: Altering the Dream World

Drugs, whether medical or recreational, can have a profound effect on our dreaming.

  1. Prescription medication: Certain medications, especially those that affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain, can alter dreams such as antidepressants are known to increase the lucidity and intensity of dreams in some individuals.
  2. Alcohol, caffeine and other substances: These can disrupt normal sleep, often initially causing a decrease in REM sleep, followed by a rebound with more intense REM phases, which can cause the dream in the strong.
  3. Psychoactive substances: Medication such as marijuana and psychedelics can have different effects on dreams and some may reduce dreaming by suppressing REM sleep, while others may induce more vivid, dramatic or intense dreams.


ResMed to the rescue

If you encounter serious sexual issues, it is advisable to have a written chat with the sleep educators at ResMed and once the guidelines are obtained, sleep monitoring devices and applications can be recommended to improve sleep and enhance sleep quality and the sleep devices facilitated by ResMed’s technology can help connect the dots between your quality of sleep, your lifestyle choices, and the quality and intensity of your dreams



Dreams are not just fleeting shadows in the night but are the deepest details of our psyche, revealing our deepest fears, desires and questions and as we journey through the lands of dreams, we continue to try to understand the deeper meanings and answers to why we dream, a quest that is still as exciting as dreams. Understanding Dreams Self- discovery and emotional exploration. So it is important to keep a dream journal, think about your dreams and think about them.

Related topics


Fill the form today to book your sleep consultation.

I want to know about:*

I am over 18 years of age, have read and accepted ResMed’ s Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, am aware that my personal data will be processed for the purposes outlined in these documents.

Thanks for submitting the form.