Sleep Stages and Dream Interpretation
A dream serves a special function for minds and our bodies. Everyone has dreams during the REM cycle of sleep and this is essential for good mental health. Some dreams are pleasant and happy, while others are nightmares.There are five stages of sleep and we enter the REM cycle 3 to 5 times each night.
In ancient times, people believed that dreams originated
outside their bodies as messages from the gods or omens of things to happen in
the future. Dr. Sigmund Freud, about 1895, attempted to scientifically interpret
dreams but was fairly unsuccessful. Many have studied dreams but there is still
much to learn. Dream experts of today focus on what causes dreams rather than
the interpretation. Understanding what causes dreams is important to doctors to educate the public about prioritizing their sleep.
Freud, Dreams & Therapy
Five Stages of Sleep
The stages of sleep were first described by Alfred Lee Loomis in 1937, and his coworkers who separated the different sleep stages using an EEG (electroencephalography) which revealed five levels of sleep. Typically everyone passes through five stages of sleep each night
- Stage I is a light sleep or you drift in and out and can be easily aroused. Often during this stage people will experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.
- Stage II is a little deeper sleep where eye movement stops and brain ways become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves.
- Stage III is where the brain waves are extremely slow and they are called Delta waves, but they are interspersed with smaller, faster waves.
- Stage IV is where the brain produces Delta waves almost exclusively. Stage III and IV are both referred to as deep sleep or Delta sleep. It is very difficult to wake someone during deep sleep. There is no eye movement or muscle activity in deep sleep.
- REM sleep: Dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and the rest of your body is a temporarily paralyzed at this time. During dreaming your eyes are moving rapidly; your heart beats faster; you breath accelerates; blood pressure rises, and areas of your brain that you use for learning are stimulated. Brain waves during this stage are actually increased to the levels experienced when a person is awake. Most people experience 3 to 5 intervals of REM sleep each night. Infants spend almost 50% of their time in REM sleep, while adults spend nearly half of their sleep time in stage II and about 20% in REM sleep.
EEG printout - Source Benbest
source puppies den
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Process of Dreaming
So, dreaming is a thinking process but on a much deeper level. Your conscious mind has slipped but away and you are very focused, plus you're totally honest with yourself as you figure out your issues. What is actually happening is you are moving information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory, so it helps us solve problems, solve information and also to organize our thoughts. Research has shown that if we constantly interrupt dreams in an individual that they will become psychotic and start seeing hallucinations, even if they get the rest of their sleep. Dreaming is essential to good mental health.
If we were not paralyzed during dreaming we would be physically acting out the dream. For some people this mechanism doesn't work correctly and oddities like sleepwalking occur, but sleepwalking is more common in deep sleep. Some studies say you can't dream while snoring, but others have not found that to be true.
Dreaming is a natural function of every mammal and bird on earth. If you own a dog you have probably seen them when you're dreaming. Interestingly enough, dogs show the same physiological cycle as humans, having REM sleep, so it is assumed they are having the same type of dreams.
Benefits of Dreaming - Summary
There are several benefits to dreaming. Dreaming will give balance to the events that happened to you during the day and the more we sleep, the more we will be able to integrate things that we learned during the day. Our bodies repair themselves while dreaming, which improves the quality of our life. Mental, spiritual and emotional coping mechanisms to help us develop creative solutions and new ways of thinking about our challenges, questions and problems in life are another benefit of dreaming.
It is usually easy to tell if you haven't slept enough as the symptoms are irritability, mood swings, and falling asleep as you're driving home from work or maybe at your desk. It is your body's way of telling you to turn off the lights and go to sleep.
Ella Fitzgerald - Louis Armstrong "Dream a Little Dream of Me
The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
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