Dreaming. It’s such a fascinating sensation and experience that we all go through while we sleep. And yet, so many people don’t understand the science behind dreams and why they occur. Why is it that your body has these dreams anyway? What purpose do they serve? How do they affect the manner in which your body functions? Well, if you want to gain a better understanding of what really happens to your body when you’re dreaming, then just continue to read on until the end of this article.
Well, dreaming all starts with the brain stem. It transitions the state of your body right into sleep mode. And once you hit the stage of rapid eye movement or REM, then it is also responsible for just switching off your muscle movement. Everything in your body except your eyes is stuck in temporary paralysis. And that’s a good thing because it keeps you from physically acting out your thoughts.
And at the same time, your brain stem’s nerve cells are going to fire up in an erratic and volatile manner. Plenty of experts believe that a dream takes place when the thinking part of the brain attempts to make sense of these erratic signals.
There will be parts of your frontal cortex – where your intelligence and knowledge lie – that will just go into a deep hibernation. And without your skills to engage in logic, reasoning, and rationality, the typical rules that govern space and time won’t apply. That’s why you tend to find yourself in, particularly implausible situations whenever you are in a dream. It’s what explains your ability to fly or breathe underwater when you’re off in dreamland.
Dreams also engage the brain’s hippocampus – the part of the brain that is in charge of your memories. It also engages the amygdala, the part of your brain that is primarily responsible for your feelings and emotions. That is why your dreams can often involve actual events (often, in sensationalized narratives) that can genuinely frighten or elate you.
The brain’s visual cortex also comes alive while you’re in a dream state. This is the part of the brain that interprets images. And that’s why you still see a lot of things in your head even though your eyes aren’t necessarily functional in that moment.
Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep. However, it is still possible for people to have non-REM dreams. And they tend to be very different. They are more “normal” and “plausible” than those dreams that tend to be out of this world.
Most people spend around one to two hours every night in REM sleep but a lot of them will still find it difficult to remember their dreams when they wake up. Experts have been unable to determine why this is the case. However, many scientists have proposed that this is a kind of coping mechanism for your mind. If you remember everything in your dreams, then you might have difficulty in distinguishing actual memories of real life and your dreamed events.
Researchers still remain undecided and divided to this day on the reasons why people dream the way that they do. Some propose that it is all a manifestation of a person’s emotions while others argue that dreams are completely randomized ideas. It’s possible that dreams would be able to help you process the complex aspects of life. It’s also been postulated that dreams can help you subconsciously cement memories. Other scientists even say that dreams are more of a preparatory mechanism to help you get ready for your reentry into the real world.