Why do we dream? No solid reason or study explains your dreams and dreaming patterns.
But do you know that your inner fears, good thoughts, evil thoughts, and everything running in the back of your mind channel themselves to enter your dreams, creating a concoction of different scenarios during your REM sleep?
What is REM Sleep?
A majority of your dreams will occur to you when you are in your REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This involves a faster pulse rate and slightly heavier breathing, unlike deep sleep, wherein you are in a more relaxed state.
REM sleep is crucial for connecting with your dreams and emotional state of mind. For a healthy, good quality life and to avoid crankiness as you go about your day, you need proper REM sleep every night. It is, therefore, as important as deep sleep.
You experience your first REM sleep session about 1.5 to 2 hours after falling asleep. You can pass through six rounds or phases of REM sleep every night. The first session of REM sleep after you sleep can last for about ten minutes, and the individual REM phases that follow get longer progressively during the night.
REM sleep reduces as you age. Infants and kids experience longer REM sleep cycles as compared to adults.
All your nightmares and non-lucid dreams that you can hardly remember after waking up usually happen during different stages of REM sleep.
What are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreams are the more vivid ones. It is a conscious attempt to train your mind to imagine your favorable dreamscapes and desirable dream scenarios to introspect, cure nightmares and self-heal effectively.
They help you become a more mindful person and play a critical role in self-growth. The responses and course of action you execute in your lucid dreams help you bury the hatchet, resolve your psychological discord and deal with your past.
What are Deeper Dreams?
Deeper dreams are what you experience after awakening from a brief period of REM sleep. In this stage, you can also guide your brain to start lucid dreaming if you can successfully manage to recall the dream you witnessed in your REM sleep phase that just ended.
When you get better, deeper sleep, you are way more relaxed and can connect your subconscious with your conscious. These carry deeper meanings that can get you headed in the right direction in your life and also rediscover yourself.
How Long do Dreams Last?
It depends on the type of dream you experience. There is no definite number; however, nightmares can be recurrent, affect your sleep cycle and hamper your mental and physical health. The duration of nightmares differs from individual to individual, but they can last anywhere from twenty to forty minutes on average.
If you have PTSD, you might experience repeated bouts of nightmares that can haunt you the entire night, making you feel anxious and terrified, and ruining a good night’s sleep.
You can even experience them as often as the occurrence of your REM sleep phases throughout the night.
Lucid dreams can help you effectively mitigate your episodes of nightmares. Lucid dreams can last for a minimum of ten or fifteen minutes and can go up to an hour or so if you are a pro lucid dreamer and have mastered the art of lucid dreaming.
5 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams
Here are some cool facts about dreams.
1. Nightclubbers Tend to Experience More Nightmares
Do you think you are very productive at night? That is good if you are trying to work overtime, pulling an all-nighter to get critical work done. But things could get murkier in your dreams when you go to bed late.
If you sleep later than usual, you also tend to wake up late in the morning. Early morning, your stress hormone cortisol levels go up just before waking up.
It is a period where you are more likely to be in your REM sleep. But if you are a night owl, you could be sleeping at this time, and the subsequent increase in cortisol in your body can further lead you to have nightmares.
2. You Can be in Charge of Your Dreams
Never knew you could control your dreams? Yes, you can! 🙂
Thanks to lucid dreaming, you can set up your dream landscapes, create your ideal dream situations, and handhold your dreams to achieve the desired outcome. This technique has worked for most people struggling with anxiety, PTSD, lousy past, or stressful relationships.
You could practice lucid dreaming even when you do not have any sleep or emotional disorders. It helps you become a well-oriented and a more sensible individual with a better grip over your feelings.
It even helps you alleviate your stress or anxiety as you can determine the story and the final result in your dreams, making you feel more confident.
Lucid dreams also promote creativity and can help you with upskilling if practiced the right way.
3. Your Body Experiences Paralysis While Dreaming
Your body muscles are usually paralyzed when you dream in your REM sleep. During REM sleep, you experience a faster beating heart, constant movement or fluttering of the eyelids, and paralysis of primary muscle groups for a short period, restricting you from actually acting or executing essential bodily functions or activities while dreaming.
Why this happens is still a subject of study.
However, some initial research based on an experiment performed on rats showed that body paralysis was caused due to the neurotransmitters in the brain that restricted a specific type of neurons responsible for motor movement.
4. Your brain has complete control over what part of the dream you would forget.
Do not downplay your brain, folks! It has the power to do unimaginable things at times. The melanin-concentrating hormone-producing neurons, also called the MCH neurons, located in the hypothalamus can lead to forgetting of dreams when you are in your REM sleep.
The reason is that these neurons prevent your brains from memorizing your dreams entirely or certain parts of them, thus affecting their recall once you wake up from your REM sleep.
REM sleep is not a deep form of sleep, so it disallows your brain from saving memories or processing more information by restricting information overload.
5. Certain medicines can influence your dreams.
Antidepressants can lead to recurrent bouts of nightmares with increased frequency. Some medicines prescribed to treat allergies and blood pressure issues can negatively affect your dreams.
The scary part is that some medications can induce massively disturbing dreams, which can hamper your emotional well-being in the long run. Steroids such as Medrol and Prednisone can lead you to have strange dreams.
Extra care should be taken when you are prescribed medicines lowering cholesterol levels in your body as they too are known to affect your brain chemistry and induce disturbing nightmares.
So, it is recommended that you avoid taking random medications without prescriptions. And even if you do take them based on the suggestion of your trusty doctor, make sure you extensively discuss the pros and cons with them.