There are a lot of things that are still unknown about sleeping. We know that there are certain changes going on in the brain, but why and how they happen is still the subject of speculation. Especially mysterious are dreams.
Dreams have long been thought of as the means to process information gathered through the day, and more and more research confirms these speculations.
“At night the brain literally swallows, digests and releases itself from information, just like the bowels do it”, explains clinical psychologist Rubin Naiman, specialized in integrative sleep and dreaming in the University of Arizona.
“The things the brain saves become a part of what we are”.
But, there are still a lot of things that are not known about dreams. We present the little known facts that science has concluded until now.
We All Dream Through The Whole Night
You have probably heard someone say that dreams happen only during the REM phase of sleeping. But, we actually dream through the whole night, says Naiman. We are more focused on dreams during the REM phase, but the fact that you don’t see a dream doesn’t mean it is not there.
As the night progresses, REM sleep periods get longer, so most dreams happen during the last third of the sleep.
Insects And Fish Don’t Have A REM Phase
Although sometimes dreams do happen outside the REM phase, identifying “fast eye movements” which is a characteristic of that phase, is very difficult in other species. But, it is well known that all mammals and reptiles, as well as some birds do really have REM phase, so it means they probably dream too.
You Have A Lower Chance Of Remembering Your Dream If You Have Been Woken By An Alarm
The trauma you experience when you are woken by an alarm can cause the forgetting of a dream that was in your thoughts just a minute before.
The best way to remember a dream is to allow yourself to slowly wake up. Just don’t try to hard because chasing a dream will make it go away faster, says Naiman.
People That Remember Dreams Have Different Brain Activity
A study from 2014. shows that there is more spontaneous activity in certain areas of the brain, in people that remember their dreams more often, than in those who do not.
The differences didn’t exist just during sleep, but also in a wake condition.
Earlier research shows that people who remember their dreams react more vigorously to sound during sleep and when awake than those who do not.
Your Body Reacts To Dreams The Same Way It Does To Reality
It is a bit strange when you wake up and you are mad at somebody because he did something in your dream. But biologically, it makes sense because your feelings stay with you when you open your eyes, says Naiman.
For example, your blood pressure can rise, or your heart rate, just like in a stressful scenario in reality or like a participating in sport and physical activity.
We Dream In Real Time
Opposite to the myth that dreams last just a few parts of a second, in reality dreams last 20 to 60 minutes, says Naiman. The dreams you dream at the beginning of the night are shorter, and the ones later are longer.
Nightmares Are Not Always Linked To Fears
Nightmares are terrifying, but fear is not the only thing driving them. A study done during the start of this year, that included 331 people, discovered that bad dreams can be caused by worry, confusion and guilt. The research also shows that men have nightmares linked to aggression and violence, while women focus on conflicts with other people.
Your Dreams Are Not Strange Unless You See Them Like That
“When you dream, no matter how weird it is, you probably don’t have that feeling. When you wake up, you realize the dream was weird”, says Naiman.
Comparing a weird dream is like comparing different eating habits of two completely different cultures, according to Naiman.
You Can Die In Your Sleep, And Still Live
Many believe in the popular myth that if you die in your sleep you die in reality, but Naiman accents that it doesn’t have anything to do with reality. Actually, he encourages people to explore.
“If you ever have a lucid dream about dying, go with the flow”.
Some that have experienced it didn’t really like it because you get to live after you die, but it is interesting still.