Hormones and Dreaming

Topics: Psychology, Menstrual cycle, Sleep Pages: 5 (1700 words) Published: April 16, 2013
“I Dreamed A Dream”
We all dream, it is inevitable. You dream about people, places, homework, daily doings, and even things you don’t even recognize as being a part of our life. People may often question the significance of dreaming or why humans do it, but it is an essential part for our brain function as you sleep and live day to day. It allows for our minds to process the input it receives. There have been ample researchers who have studied the brain and its relationship with dreaming. Most people are aware of the influence hormones have on the behavior of a person. However, such hormones have also been linked to the dream process and their content. My goal through this research paper is to identify several hormones, naturally secreted by the body, and the impact they have on the dreaming process for both males and females, with a particular focus on females. The articles provide evidence as to what specific hormones from the body affect dreaming and how the hormones enable that to occur. Article 1: Sleep, dreams, and memory consolidation

In this article, Payne and Nadel did not perform any actual experiments themselves; they did review the results of a number of different studies pertaining to cortisol and dreams. Researchers focused on the effects of brain neurohormones, specifically cortisol, as it impacts sleep, dreams, and memory. Researchers believed that variations in amounts of cortisol, as well as other neurotransmitters, affect the hippocampal formation and neocortical circuits, two parts essential for fusing memories, a process which occurs during sleep usually through dreams. It is important to understand that cortisol is released by the adrenal cortex in response to stress and low levels of blood glucocorticoid meaning.

Researchers of the studies that were reviewed provided background and assumptions for topics concerning sleeping and dreaming such as the sleep stages, the distribution of dreams, and the relationship between dreams, sleep, and memory consolidation. First, sleep does not merely serve one purpose for humans. Second, content of dreams shows which portions of the brain are active. Third, if cortisol levels affect the hippocampal formation then the stages during sleep in which memory consolidation occurs will be also altered.

In the studies looked at by Payne and Nadel, all findings showed that cortisol levels do fluctuate during a night’s sleep based on the sleep stage (REM, NREM, SWS). Some studies also indicated that sleep strengthens communication for the neocortical circuits and hippocampal formation. Many of the same studies continued to point out that the changes in cortisol levels interrupt the hippocampal formation function, which is the processing of episodes, and neocortical interactions. The results therefore alter dream content because the two brain parts are closely linked with dreaming during sleep. This dream interruption comes because the brain is attempting to integrate the information with pre-existing knowledge and other related concepts.

The findings compiled by Payne and Nadel are examples of biological psychology, which displays the relationship between human behavior, the mind, and biological processes in comparison with the influence of neuroscience and chemical/hormonal reactions, specifically cortisol. Cortisol is known to increase with age because of its role as a stress response hormone. Stress increases as age increases, therefore the connection between cortisol and dream interruption is also a part of developmental psychology because it is a change that occurs throughout a lifespan. These findings are also relatable to a cognitive psychological perspective since the studies investigate the mental process of dreams and how the brain sorts through new information and past information; simply stated: it is cognitive psychology because it is the brain working as one sleeps. These articles go into depth about the process of dreaming and...
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