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The Science of Dreams

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Oneirology, a relatively new field is the scientific study of dreams. There are various theories that might explain the mystery of our dreams. It’s the way our brain recollects and processes scattered information and emotions in our minds. They could vary from stimuli to memories to things you fleetingly absorbed during the day. In fact, a study even shows that our dreams are largely affected by our conscious experiences because our minds subconsciously store some information.

However, not all dreams are “the same”. Recurring dreams, as the name suggests, are dreams that repeat quite often. While these dreams are mostly negative in nature, they’re not all bad. Some people believe that dreams are a sign or prediction of the future, but mostly they just symbolize unresolved conflicts or serious stress in their lives. Recurring dreams usually contain more emotionally damaging content than any other kind of dream.

Nightmares are usually classified as bad dreams and while for most of us they aren’t quite frequent, about 5% of the total population experiences them every week. There can be various possible triggers such as traumatic experiences, alcohol and substance abuse, stress, emotional abuse, etc.

The most fascinating of all are probably lucid dreams. It’s a state of mind when the person knows they’re sleeping and sometimes can manipulate their dreams. Lucid dreamers are said to have somewhat higher brain wave frequencies than regular dreamers. While this seems exciting, lucid dreaming can lead to a deterioration in the quality of sleep and sleep deprivation. Scientists have found that there may be a link between overcoming fear and dreaming lucidly.

False awakenings occur along with lucid dreams. They’re dreams in which you think you’ve woken up but you actually haven’t. Sleep disorders, knowing you have to wake up extra early the next morning or hearing a noise in the middle of the night but not quite waking up are some reasons they could occur.

Dreams are quite strange honestly. Some studies have shown that people with impaired hearing claim to hear noises in their dreams. However, people who are grieving, pregnant women or children are most subjected to dreams. The National Sleep Foundation stated that an average person dreams about 4-6 times every night. The most vivid dreams happen when there’s rapid eye movement (REM).

Understanding your dreams can sometimes be very baffling. So many of us perceived these stimuli and to be honest, it all feels so real. Very frequently, dreams seemingly incorporate all of our senses.

- Devangna Chandra

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