Circadian Rhythm Connections To Alzheimers
Altered dreaming is also linked to degenerative neurological conditions, including Parkinsons disease and some forms of dementia. Violent and aggressive dreams, along with RBDphysically acting out during dreamsare frequent symptoms of neurological degeneration. These dream-related symptoms also have been identified as a strong predictor of the future development of degenerative neurological disease. Studies show that REM behavior disorder is a strong predictor for both some types of dementia and Parkinsons disease.
What about dreamings influence on our waking lives? Dreaming is a universal, enduring aspect of being human . Dreaming is something we do daily from the time we are very young to very old. Are dreams more than a nightly de-cluttering of the mind? Are there ways that dreams might help us live better? There is a long-held view of dreams as a creative portaland scientific study may be giving that belief some credence. Evidence suggests that dreams may assist in daytime function and performance, especially as they relate to creativity and problem-solving.
Recent research examined the role of dreams in problem-solving, using a group of lucid dreamers. They found that lucid dreamers could use their dreams effectively to solve creative problems . Studies like this one suggest dreams may be fertile territory for influencing and enhancing our waking frame of mind.
Fact #: Violent Dreams Can Be A Warning Sign
A new study suggests that a rare sleep disorder in which people act out their dreams, sometimes with violent thrashes, kicks and screams, may be an early sign of brain disorders, including Parkinsons disease and dementia.
In this study, researchers examined Mayo Clinic medical records to identify cases of the so-called REM sleep behaviour disorder reported from 2002 to 2006, and identified 27 patients who developed the REM sleep behaviour disorder at least 15 years before showing symptoms of neurodegenerative ailments.
They found out that 13 patients developed what was likely dementia and mild cognitive impairment, 12 patients developed Parkinsons disease, one person Parkinsons-dementia, and one person multiple system atrophy.
The main symptom of REM sleep behaviour disorder is dream-enacting behaviour, which can end in the person injuring themselves or a bedmate. Past research has also suggested a link between dream-enacting behaviours and certain neurodegenerative ailments.
What Is A Dream
A dream includes the images, thoughts, and emotions that are experienced during sleep. Dreams can range from extraordinarily intense or emotional to very vague, fleeting, confusing, or even boring. Some dreams are joyful, while others are frightening or sad. Sometimes dreams seem to have a clear narrative, while many others appear to make no sense at all.
There are many unknowns about dreaming and sleep, but what scientists do know is that just about everyone dreams every time they sleep, for a total of around two hours per night, whether they remember it upon waking or not.
Beyond what’s in a particular dream, there is the question of why we dream at all. Below, we detail the most prominent theories on the purpose of dreaming and how these explanations can be applied to specific dreams.
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Why Do I Have Recurring Dreams
One theory, experts said, is that people tend to have continuing concerns and will dream about those themes. Recurring dreams can be happy, but they are generally more likely to be anxiety-inducing, Barrett said. Many therapists, she said, believe these types of dreams are usually about more significant long-term characterologic issues, such as a persons personality traits, defense mechanisms and ways of coping, and beliefs about the world.
Although you may notice that youve had the same dream before, Domhoff said, recurring dreams are typically a very, very small percentage of our dream lives.
One commonly reported recurring dream involves the feeling of falling but suddenly waking before impact. The sensation of falling and jerking awake, which can also happen outside of dreaming as people are drifting off to sleep, may be the result of motion signals being sent by the inner ear that are completely random, Barrett said.
Just as youre getting a little closer to waking, theres a slight overlap in being mostly asleep and yet beginning to sense that youre getting these movement messages that would mean somethings really wrong if they were actually happening, she said.
Dream Interpretation According To Psychology
- Ph.D., Psychology, Fielding Graduate University
- M.A., Psychology, Fielding Graduate University
- B.A., Film Studies, Cornell University
The best approach to dream interpretation is a question that psychologists have a hard time agreeing on. Many, such as Sigmund Freud, adhere to the idea that dreams point to unconscious desires, while others, such as Calvin S. Hall, advocate for a cognitive approach in which dreams reflect different parts of our waking lives.
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Five Ways To Enhance Your Sleep
So how can we be sure to get enough sleep and experience a dream state? While we may be tempted to use sleeping pills to get to sleep, this has been shown to be detrimental to dreaming. Instead of taking pills, here are some simple ways to enhance your sleep:
1. Make sure your room is dark and that you are not looking at bright light sourcesi.e., computer screens and cell phonesin the last hour or two before going to bed. You may even want to start dimming lights in your house in the earlier parts of the evening, which helps to stimulate sleepiness.
2. Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day. This helps signal to your body a regular time for sleeping. Its no use trying to sleep in a lot on weekends. There is no way to make up for regular sleep loss during the week.
3. Keep the temperature in your house cool at nightmaybe even cooler than you think it should be, like around 65 degrees. Your body temperature needs to drop at night for sleep, and a lower room temperature helps signal your brain that its time to sleep.
5. Dont have caffeine late in the day or an alcohol-infused nightcap. Both of these interfere with sleepeither keeping you awake or stimulating frequent wake-ups during the night.
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Interesting Psychological Facts About Dreams
Psychreg on Cognitive PsychologyWHAT’S IN THIS ARTICLE?
You may have spent some time thinking about your dreams. Like, what is the meaning of your dreams or why did you dream something scary, or maybe youve asked yourself why you forgot most details of your dreams when youre sharing them with another person.
Dreams really are an interesting topic in psychology. In fact, dreams have been studied so many times and, according to some psychologists, getting a better handle on the nature of dreams can boost self-knowledge and aid personal growth. However, the experiences we have in our dreams can be mysterious.
But before we take a look at some interesting facts about dreams, what are dreams really, and what do they mean?
The Mysteries Of Our Brain
Our knowledge of the human brain is still very much a work in progress. Scientific understandings of consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience are in flux, as new discoveries and theories are released almost every day.
What this means for the study of dreaming is as of yet unclear.
Why do people dream? The question will undoubtedly continue to fascinate some of humanitys greatest minds. Billions will wonder. Scientists will study. Researchers will collaborate. Doctors and psychologists and thousands of others will wait with bated breath.
For now, it would seem current research suggests that our dreams play a role in memory, in self-identity, and in the processing of our daily experiences. Its a critical aspect of our sleep. Why exactly that is, and how exactly it occurs, will continue to be one of the most interesting questions in modern medicine. And then, of course, theres lucid dreaming.
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Definition Essay: Why Do We Dream
Everyone dreams even if they dont remember dreaming the next day. Dreams can be disturbing, delightful or bizarre. According to Merriam Webster dreams are a series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep. A simpler definition of dreams is stories and images our mind creates while we sleep. Dreams can make you feel different types of emotions like happy, sad, angry, or scared. They can also be vivid. The brain is more active during REM sleep, that is when most vivid
Dreaming Enhances Creativity And Problem
Its been shown that deep non-REM sleep strengthens individual memories. But REM sleep is when those memories can be fused and blended together in abstract and highly novel ways. During the dreaming state, your brain will cogitate vast swaths of acquired knowledge and then extract overarching rules and commonalties, creating a mindset that can help us divine solutions to previously impenetrable problems.
How do we know dreaming and not just sleep is important to this process?
In one study, we tested this by waking up participants during the nightduring both non-REM sleep and dreaming sleepand gave them very short tests: solving anagram puzzles, where you try to unscramble letters to form a word . First, participants were tested beforehand, just to familiarize them with the test. Then, we monitored their sleep and woke them up at different points of the night to perform the test. When woken during non-REM sleep, they were not particularly creativethey could solve very few puzzles. But, when we woke up participants during REM sleep, they were able to solve 15-35 percent more puzzles than when they were awake. Not only that, participants woken while dreaming reported that the solution just popped into their heads, as if it were effortless.
Some may consider this trivial, but it is one of the key operations differentiating your brain from your computer. It also underlies the difference between knowledge and wisdom . The latter seems to be the work of REM-sleep dreaming.
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Dreams May Reflect The Unconscious
Sigmund Freudâs theory of dreams suggests that dreams represent unconscious desires, thoughts, wish fulfillment, and motivations. According to Freud, people are driven by repressed and unconscious longings, such as aggressive and sexual instincts.
While many of Freud’s assertions have been debunked, research suggests there is a dream rebound effect, also known as dream rebound theory, in which suppression of a thought tends to result in dreaming about it.
Brain Activity And Dream Types
In neuroimaging studies of brain activity during REM sleep, scientists found that the distribution of brain activity might also be linked to specific dream features.
Several bizarre features of normal dreams with well-known neuropsychological syndromes that occur after brain damage, such as delusional misidentifications for faces and places.
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Eeg Pattern Of Dream Experiences
Dreaming could reflect the reactivation and consolidation of memories during sleep . It is well-known that after the first peak in incorporation of waking memories into DE called day-residue effect, there is a second peak following the experience 67 days later, i.e., dream-lag effect . This delayed incorporation of daytime events has been found to hold for REM sleep dreams but not NREM-DE . Several findings supported that the incorporation of waking-life memories into dream contents represents this process of memory consolidation that allow the integration of the new mnestic traces in the older memories . Although this fascinating perspective has given arise several hypotheses on the functional role of dreaming, very few studies have investigated the EEG correlates of incorporation in REM-DE, while the most of researches pointed to find the EEG pattern predicting the presence/absence of dream recall.
These patterns are also consistent with the indications obtained by brain lesions and neuroimaging findings in the field of dream research . It should be noted that a study by transcranial alternating current stimulation revealed that the stimulation on the fronto-temporal area in the gamma band during REM sleep is related to lucid dreams . Albeit this study confirmed the crucial role of the gamma activity for dreaming, it is worth noting that the stimulated areas are different .
The Dreaming Brain Can Build Stories Better Than A Brain Thats Awake
There are certain questions that come up for which we plot a potential course of action or think through a future scenario to solve, Stickgold explains.
Thats what our brains cant do in the background when were awake. But that type of narrative construction still requires us to be consciously aware, Stickgold says which is one feature of dreams. We know theyre happening.
It might be that you need to bring that sleep-dependent memory processing into consciousness to be able to solve those kinds of problems that require the development of a plan or a narrative or a plot, Stickgold says that you need to dream to do that kind of thinking .
Several studies show that our waking experiences show up in our dreams. Other research shows that we are more likely to remember something if we dream about it.
And more research suggests that dreaming does actually help us problem solve.
A set of experiments conducted by Wamsleys and Stickgolds group showed that when a group of 99 individuals were given the task of navigating a complex maze, those whose performance on the task improved the most when re-tested after a five-hour period were those individuals given the opportunity to take a nap and more specifically those who reported dreaming about the maze during that nap compared to when they were simply awake during that time .
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Dreams Reflect Your Life
Under the continuity hypothesis, dreams function as a reflection of a person’s real life, incorporating conscious experiences into their dreams. Rather than a straightforward replay of waking life, dreams show up as a patchwork of memory fragments.
Still, studies show that non-REM sleep may be more involved with declarative memory , while REM dreams include more emotional and instructive memories. In general, REM dreams tend to be easier to recall compared to non-REM dreams.
Under the continuity hypothesis, memories may be fragmented purposefully in our dreams as part of incorporating new learning and experiences into long-term memory. Still, there are many unanswered questions as to why some aspects of memories are featured more or less prominently in our dreams.
Fact #: Blind People May Dream Visually
Researchers have found out in a study of people who have been blind at birth that they still seemed to experience visual imagery in their dreams, and they also had eye movements that correlated to visual dream recall.
They have also found out that although their eye movements were fewer during REM than the sighted participants of the study, the blind participants reported the same dream sensations, including visual content.
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Dream Recall And Well
One study looked at whether dream recall and dream content would reflect the social relationships of the person who is dreaming.
College student volunteers on measures of attachment, dream recall, dream content, and other psychological measures.
Participants who were classified as high on an insecure attachment scale were significantly more likely to:
- report a dream
- experience intense images that contextualize strong emotions in their dreams
Older volunteers whose attachment style was classed as preoccupied were significantly more likely to:
- report a dream
- report dreams with a higher mean number of words
Dream recall was lowest for the avoidant subjects and highest for the preoccupied subjects.
Everyone dreams, although we may not remember our dreams. At different times of life or during different experiencs, our dreams might change.
Key Takeaways: Dream Interpretation
- Many approaches to dream interpretation have been proposed in psychology, including that dreams should be examined for symbols and that they reflect our perspectives on our lives.
- Psychologists differ on whether dreams serve a real purpose and what that purpose might be.
- Dream researcher G. William Domhoff observed that interpreting an individual’s dreams provides a very good psychological portrait of that individual.
The Purpose Of Dreams
Dreams are a very ponderous things. Simply saying, dreams are a stream of images, sounds, and the actions of something like a movie. But never have dreams been able to be explained. The Greeks and Romans claimed that dreams were signs from their gods and had prophetic magic . Even though the purpose of dreams has not been discovered, a huge movement in the study of dreams occurred at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1952, scientists in Chicago discovered
Dreams Prepare And Protect
The primitive instinct rehearsal and adaptive strategy theories of dreaming propose that we dream to better prepare ourselves to confront dangers in the real world. The dream as a social simulation function or threat simulation provides the dreamer a safe environment to practice important survival skills.
While dreaming, we hone our fight-or-flight instincts and build mental capability for handling threatening scenarios. Under the threat simulation theory, our sleeping brains focus on the fight-or-flight mechanism to prep us for life-threatening and/or emotionally intense scenarios including:
- Running away from a pursuer
- Falling over a cliff
- Going to the bathroom in public
- Forgetting to study for a final exam
This theory suggests that practicing or rehearsing these skills in our dreams gives us an evolutionary advantage in that we can better cope with or avoid threatening scenarios in the real world. This helps explain why so many dreams contain scary, dramatic, or intense content.
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