In the Greek and Roman eras, dreams were seen in a religious context. They were believed to be direct messages from the gods or from the dead. The people of that time look to their dreams for solutions on what to do or what course of action to take. They believed dreams forewarned and predicted the future. Greek philosopher, Aristotle, believed that dreams were a result of physiological functions. Dreams were able to diagnose illness and predict onset of disease.
During the Middle Ages, dreams were seen as evil and its images were temptations from the devil. In the vulnerable sleep state, the devil was believed to fill the mind of humans with poisonous thoughts. He did his dirty work though dreams attempting to mislead us down a wrong path.
One sleep cycle consists of four stages and lasts for about 90-120 minutes. Dreams can occur in any of the four stages of sleep, but the most vivid and memorable dreams occur in the last stage of sleep. The sleep cycle repeats itself about an average of four to five times per night, but may repeat as many as seven times. So, you can see how a person has many different dreams in one night. Most people only remember dreams that occur closer toward the morning when they are about to wake up. Some people believe that they simply do not dream, when in reality, they just don’t remember their dreams.
While you are dreaming, your body undergoes noticeable changes. Your adrenaline raises, your blood pressure increases, and your heartbeats faster. Given this hyperactivity, this is how someone with a weak heart can die in their sleep. Their heart may not be able to withstand the strain and the erratic changes that their body is going through. Dreaming takes place during REM, which strands from Rapid Eye Movement. It is called this because your eyes move rapidly back and forth under the eyelids. REM sleep takes place in the fourth stage of sleep and accounts for 15-20% of your sleep time.
From the point you fall asleep, it takes 30 to 90 minutes before you start dreaming. You cycle through the 4 stages of sleep and may enter the REM stage 4 to 7 times in one night. During REM, your blood pressure and heart rate fluctuate and increase. Also, your body is completely immobile and your muscles remain completely relaxed. You may shift in your bed throughout the night, but when in REM, you are completely still. This is commonly known as “REM Paralysis.”
In REM sleep, the mind is as active as it is during waking. However, chemically it is different, REM is controlled by the excitability level of the cholinergic neurons. Noradrenaline and serotonin are missing in the brain when in the dream state. These chemicals allow the brain to carry out task, solve problems and remember things. This is a reason why you find it so hard to remember your dreams.
Research has shown that people, who are deprived from entering the dream phase of sleep or the REM stage, exhibit symptoms of irritability and anxiety. In one dream study, volunteers are woken up right before they enter into the dream state. Then they are allowed to fall back to sleep. Again, right before they enter REM sleep, they are awakened. This continues on through the night. The volunteers sleep the same amount of time as they normally do. The next day, these volunteers go about their day and observed to be disoriented, depressed, crabby, and quick-tempered. There is a general impairment in their daily functioning. Some eat more than usual. As this study continues on through several nights, subjects become more and more agitated. It is found that deprivation of REM sleep causes over-sensitivity, lack of concentration and memory loss.
Daydreaming is classified as a level of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness. Studies show that you have the tendency to daydream an average of 70-120 minutes a day. It occurs during waking hours when you let your imagination carry you away. As your mind begins to wander and your level of...