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Sleep And Dreams: 10 Mind-Bending Facts You Ought To Know

Updated on May 9, 2015

The Beauty of Sleep

When we sleep at night, we let ourselves drift into the far corners of our mind. Then, dreams enter and makes our sleep even better.
When we sleep at night, we let ourselves drift into the far corners of our mind. Then, dreams enter and makes our sleep even better. | Source

Everybody loves to indulge in a good and sound sleep at night. It becomes our sweet escape from the hectic lifestyle that we all have – a silent sanctuary. It feels extremely good that after a long day at work, school or even just staying at home, we can finally be at peace within the four corners of our room and the comfort of our beds. After we have fallen into a deep sleep, we become one with our soul and we forget about things; what remains is the presence of harmony of fading away into the darkness or the realm of dreams.

Life is but a dream – a famous line from a nursery rhyme that bursts with meanings. When we say dreams, we often think of fancy and vivid images, ideas or sensations that flash inside our mind during sleep. Through time, various theories arose as to explain the occurrence of dreams when one is asleep. For an instance, Plato and Aristotle developed a hypothesis which believes that dreaming is a way to act out unconscious desires in a safe or “unreal” setting. On the other hand, Sigmund Freud’s work called The Interpretation Of Dreams is the widely accredited among all. Sleep and dreams are interrelated to one another, though no one exactly knows why dreams occur. Here are ten mind-bending facts you can ponder on.

1. Clinomania – Sleep Obsession

Clinomania is one of the strangest disorders or mania wherein a person has an extreme obsession in sleeping. A person with this disorder has an excessive desire to stay in bed and could persist for days on end. It is also known as Dysania, and due to their obsession over sleep, clinomaniacs are said to have more dreams than normal people do. Symptoms of this obsession includes: you just want to be in your bed after a long day; whenever you see your bed, you can feel its warmth and seems you were longing for it; and your feelings explode with joy and happiness every time you are in your bed.

Clinomaniacs find it hard to wake up and get out of bed especially in the morning.
Clinomaniacs find it hard to wake up and get out of bed especially in the morning. | Source

2. REM Sleep & Dreaming

According to research, we normally spend two hours each night dreaming. Dreams almost occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep, which typically begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called the pons. These so called signals then travel to the thalamus – a brain region which relays the signals to the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for learning, thinking, and organizing information. Research says, that when the signal is being interrupted, this is when we begin to act out our dreams. REM sleep occurs much more in infants than in adults. REM sleep, or dream sleep, is essential to our minds for processing and consolidating emotions, memories and stress.

REM sleep in considered to be  vital to learning, stimulating the brain regions used in learning and developing new skills.
REM sleep in considered to be vital to learning, stimulating the brain regions used in learning and developing new skills. | Source

3. Strange but True: Less Sleep Means More Dreams

A neurologist from the University of Minnesota and director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis, named Mark Mohawald said that, “When someone is sleep deprived we see greater sleep intensity, meaning greater brain activity during sleep; dreaming is definitely increased and likely more vivid”. This statement depicts that when someone undergoes sleep deprivation, he or she is more likely to have dreams. In connection to this, sleep is divided into REM and four stages of non-REM wherein only after seventy minutes of non-REM sleep do we experience our first period of REM, and it lasts only five minutes.

Experts strongly suggest that people who are more deprived of sleep and more likely to dream a lot.
Experts strongly suggest that people who are more deprived of sleep and more likely to dream a lot. | Source

4. Marijuana Affects Sleep and Dreams

When we hear of Marijuana, we normally think about it as an illegal drug that people often abuse. However, it has been scientifically proven to have significant medical effects. Recent studies show that medical marijuana contains therapeutic value which stems from its ability to induce deep sleep, but only during the initial period of usage. According to several researches, marijuana can improve the quality of sleep but should only be taken in limited amounts. Aside from that, marijuana has been found to both induce sleep and increase the duration of sleep as well as improve the overall quality of sleep.

Marijuana, also known as Canabis, has been proven to have significant effect on the quality of sleep. In fact, in the US, the legalization of marijuana in all fifty states is still under deliberation.
Marijuana, also known as Canabis, has been proven to have significant effect on the quality of sleep. In fact, in the US, the legalization of marijuana in all fifty states is still under deliberation. | Source

5. What Dreams Say About Your Sleep

Most people experience dreams, but only five percent it remains remembered while ninety five percent is forgotten. It is not a bad thing if we forget our dreams, in fact, we forget our dreams soon after waking up. This characteristic is attributed to the neurochemical conditions in the brain that occur during REM sleep and dreaming. The study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry strongly believes in the theory that lack of norepinephrine – hormone that enhances memory in humans. Furthermore, Freud’s theory of repression states that when we don’t remember certain aspects of a dream, it’s our brain’s way of blocking out wishes or longings that we’re not emotionally equipped to handle. Also, there are some researches that suggest that we remember more dreams when we sleep longer, simply because there’s more time to dream.

When we dream, most of the times we tend to forget all about it. Various researches were developed to explain the reason behind but still, there are things left unexplained.
When we dream, most of the times we tend to forget all about it. Various researches were developed to explain the reason behind but still, there are things left unexplained. | Source

6. Stages of Sleep

People sleep in order to rest, meditate or relax after a long and tiring day. But how much do we know about it? Actually, a lot of things happen when we sleep. In fact, it has two main types, namely: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep (also known as quiet sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (also known as active sleep or paradoxical sleep. Not only that, sleep also has four different stages: Stage one: the beginning of the sleep cycle, and is a relatively light stage of sleep; Stage two: sleep that only lasts for twenty minutes; Stage three: extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves; Stage four: referred to as Delta Sleep because of the delta waves that occur during this time.

It is a little-known fact that sleep has four different stages. It is a cycle which takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes.
It is a little-known fact that sleep has four different stages. It is a cycle which takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes. | Source

7. Eating Habits Can Impact Sleep and Dreams

A person’s diet can initiate disturbing dreams – this is what recent studies show. In addition, nutrients play an underlying role in short and long sleep duration and that people who report eating a large variety of foods. Canadian psychologists Tore Nielsen and Russell Powell, conducted a research which suggests that people's eating habits can have disruptive effects on their patterns of sleep and dreaming. Heavy meals, spicy food and anything likely to create indigestion should be avoided in order to have a good quality of sleep. It is highly recommended as well to avoid eating two to three hours before sleeping. Experts say that eating right before sleeping increases metabolism and increase the brain's overnight activity, leading to dreams and nightmares.

Eating before sleeping is not a good idea. Heavy and fatty meals can disrupt a good quality of sleep that your body needs.
Eating before sleeping is not a good idea. Heavy and fatty meals can disrupt a good quality of sleep that your body needs. | Source

8. Dreams and Nightmares

When we fall asleep, we don’t always dream – that’s a fact. Sometimes, nightmares occur in our sleep and causes disturbance in our sleep. Dreams are meaningful while nightmares are dreams with vivid and distressing content. It is not only the children that experiences nightmares but as well as fifty percent of the adult population. When nightmares get extreme, it is already called as Sleep terror. Factors that trigger this to happen are numerous but the most common are: medications, withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs/medications, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders such as apnea. In most instances after you wake up, you will be able to clearly remember the details of your nightmare.

People often find themselves waking up in the middle of the night screaming and sweating heavily due to nightmares.
People often find themselves waking up in the middle of the night screaming and sweating heavily due to nightmares. | Source

9. Best Sleeping Habits

Everybody wants to have a good and sound sleep, I mean, who wouldn’t? Humans actually spend one third of their lives sleeping. The unusual part of sleeping is dreams – which have intrigued most of us for centuries. Dreams are actually important in our lives even we don’t recognize it most of the time and we can’t even control it. As what we’ve mention in fact #3, less sleep means more dreams. In connection to that, it is highly recommended by experts that having a good sleeping habit can help in managing the occurrence of dreams. Best sleeping habits include: avoiding alcohol and caffeine intake before bedtime; regular exercise; keep a regular sleep schedule; wake up at the same time every day and eat a healthy diet.

Having a good sleeping habit can help you manage the occurrence of dreams as well as nightmares.
Having a good sleeping habit can help you manage the occurrence of dreams as well as nightmares. | Source

10. Sleeping Positions and Dreams

According to research, sleeping positions have different meanings and effect in sleeping as well as your health and dreams. It can even say something about you and your personality. In fact, may studies have been developed in order to determine the direct link between a person’s personality and sleeping patterns. There are various sleeping positions: fetal, yearner, log, soldier, freefall, starfish, soldier-starfish, pillow-hugger and snorer. As an example based on a study published by the American Psychological Association, entitled Dreaming in 2012, if you sleep on your stomach, you may be having sex dreams more often than people who sleep on their back or side.

Sleeping positions have been linked to a person's personality. Not only that, it also affects health as well as occurrence of dreams.
Sleeping positions have been linked to a person's personality. Not only that, it also affects health as well as occurrence of dreams. | Source

Additional Tips:

Having a good sleeping habit, healthy diet, exercise and medication are not the only effective ways for a person to have a good and sound sleep. Recent study shows that bedroom comfort can affect the quality of sleep. Based on the survey that was conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), people sleep much better when their bedrooms are comfortable and clean. The most relevant factor that showed up among their findings is that, nine out of 10 rated having a comfortable mattress and comfortable pillows as important for getting a good night’s sleep, while slightly less rated comfortable sheets and bedding as important.

It feels so nice to sleep in comfortable mattress and pillows especially that it has been proven to help achieve good quality of sleep.
It feels so nice to sleep in comfortable mattress and pillows especially that it has been proven to help achieve good quality of sleep. | Source

Theories about Dreams

For centuries, people are intrigued to know more about sleep and dreams. We are eager to find answers about why and how we dream. In pursuit for answers, various researches, studies and theories were formed. There are even different interpretations of dreams. However, the most acknowledged theory was that of Sigmund Freud in his work entitled: The Interpretation of Dreams where he stated that dreams are wish-fulfillments. His ideas of dreams can reveal wishes or emotions you didn't realize you had. He also mentioned that dreams were a representation of unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations.

The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud has been a phenomenal explanation about dreams. Through the years, ti has been one of the prominent basis for shedding light to dreams and its meaning.
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud has been a phenomenal explanation about dreams. Through the years, ti has been one of the prominent basis for shedding light to dreams and its meaning. | Source

Through time, a number of theories were even formed that states different explanations about dreams such as: An accidental side-effect of random neural impulses by J. Allan Hobson; Encoding short-term memories into long-term storage by Jie Zhang; and Threat simulation by Antti Revonusuo are just few of the many. Though, as of today, still ongoing researches are being conducted to further explore the wonders of sleep and dreams, who knows? Maybe one day we’ll be even more surprised of what’s about to come.

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    • aprilsemogan profile imageAUTHOR

      aprilsemogan 

      3 years ago

      Hi Michael-Milec,

      Wow! Thanks for these great additional tips, they're amazing. I've heard a lot how classical music can help people sleep but, having a personal experience on hand from you is totally astounding. I'll have to give it a try some time, maybe tonight. Yeah, some information about sleep are not scientifically mentioned but i really do appreciate to discover it directly from you. :)

      Thanks for voting up. Have a great day!

    • aprilsemogan profile imageAUTHOR

      aprilsemogan 

      3 years ago

      Hi Akshayo7,

      I'm actually glad that you find this hub excellent. I'm currently reading few articles about Lucid Dreaming and it is even more interesting. Controlling dreams are indeed far beyond theories. The dreamer has extreme power of their dreams.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 

      3 years ago

      Hello aprilsemogan.

      It's great to have 'scientifically' proven what one already (almost) knows. You have done a beautiful easy red narrative about a most important function in human need, sleeping. Interestingly some of secrets of good sleeping besides those you've mention is ' if you want to have a sweet sleep you should rather less eat' (a Slovak saying-in my native language.) One additional thing I've learned from my Greek language professor is to listen to classical music at least 45 min. and always before 23 o'clock be in the bed. In modern era I've red to keep electronic at least 3 feet away from the bed, and to create a total darkness. Works for me. Plus after settling a matter of sound sleep by prayer, I am free of nightmare, seldom dreaming and after 6 hours my body is ready for good meal and hard woodworking production... Well... some naps are scientifically not mentioned ' Eh?

      Voted up and interesting.

      Good night, and blessed days.

    • Akshay07 profile image

      Akshay Singh 

      3 years ago from India

      Excellent hub I must say. What I wanted to add is the latest Lucid Dreaming. It is to control your dreams, any dream during the sleep of which one is aware of. To my mind it is far away from theories and other facts.

    • aprilsemogan profile imageAUTHOR

      aprilsemogan 

      3 years ago

      Hi poetryman6969,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this hub and thank you for voting it up. I totally agree with you, it is really best to keep the gadgets out of the room. That way, we can all concentrate on having a good night sleep rather than staying up late playing online games and posting to social media sites from time to time. These things can be done during mornings. Personally, i leave my phone on a tray just outside my room. :)

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 

      3 years ago

      An interesting and informative hub about sleep and dreams. Voted up. I think it's best to keep the electronics out of the bedroom. We don't don't have cellphones or a television in the bedroom. We don't have a computer or laptop in bed either. We do have a clock radio but you have to get up somehow. Although we use the clock radio for the time since I tend to arise early we don't actually use the alarm.

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