Many of us have often woken up from deep slumber feeling extremely disturbed by our dreams. They may have been frightening, provoking, or just downright weird. We may have tried to interpret them or figure out why we saw what we saw but do we know if the science behind dream interpretation is accurate? Read on to find out.
What Happens When We Dream ?
Dreams take place involuntarily in our minds when we are asleep. We may see images and feel various emotions while we dream. They usually occur when we are in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of our sleep cycle. During this stage, our brain activity is higher than the other stages of sleep. This stage of sleeping is where we are most “awake”. There have been several studies that have been conducted to learn more about the processes that take place while we dream and an entire branch of scientific study dedicated to dreaming called oneirology exists.
Why Do We See Images When We Dream?
According to a report published in the NIH, neuroimaging techniques reveal “that visual association areas and limbic regions of the brain isolate themselves from the primary visual cortex as well as the higher, more analytical areas of the brain during dreaming. This may explain why dreams are often highly visual, emotional and illogical.”
Theories As To Why We Dream
Psychologists, neuroscientists, and the like have spent countless decades trying to figure out a well-defined explanation as to why we dream. They have come up with several theories to explain this fascinating evolutionary trait. One theory explaining why we dream is that our brain uses dreams to convert the information it has learned when it was awake from short term memory to long term memory. Another theory proposed by Francis Crick and Graemi Mitchison suggests that the function of dream sleep is “to remove certain undesirable modes of interaction in networks of cells in the cerebral cortex.” There are also theories that suggest that dreams reflect the emotions that we might have felt during the day. For example, if we were perhaps tensed or had exam anxiety, we are likely to have a dream that reflects that emotional state.
From ancient days, people have been trying to associate meaning to the images and emotions we see and feel while we sleep. Dreaming in ancient Egypt and Greece was even considered to be an experience that was almost supernatural. In more recent times, psychologists like Freud and Jung have theorized that certain images in dreams could be associated with feeling a certain way. The hypothesis suggests that the images we see may contain deeper meaning. For example, a Freudian interpretation of a dream which features a snake could indicate a feeling of sexual desire or longing.
Is Dream Interpretation Backed By Science?
It is important to keep in mind that the study of dream interpretation has not been explored enough and that there is no scientific evidence to support the symbolic representation that the images may have. Some dream interpreters might make interpretations that are reasonably accurate like dreaming about being naked in a social environment might suggest feelings of vulnerability but there are many other interpretations that are extremely far fetched. So essentially don’t believe everything you see or hear about dream interpretation.
The Whole Dream Interpretation Thing Could Be Hogwash
There are countless dream interpreters who earnestly believe in their findings and countless people who believe it has helped them discover something they did not know about themselves. But, some theories also suggest that the dreams we have don’t really have any meaning. They might just be our brain’s way of unwinding while we sleep. In any case, research in neuroimaging sciences may help us discover something more in the future.