Dr. Lottie G. Olson-Davidson
South University Online
Assignment 3: Essay—Sleep and Dreams
What is the biological basis of sleep and dreams?
There have been quite a few studies on sleep and why the body needs it. One study found that during sleep, the brain transfers information from short-term memory to long-term memory (Hunter, 2008). Some studies have shown that sleep helps you to stay mentally sharp because your body is getting the rest it needs (Wagner et al, 2004; as cited in Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 348). Others have found that sleep promotes the repair and the formation of brain cells (Siegel, 2003; Winerman, 2006; as cited in Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 348). Yet another study found that sleep and dreams help the brain to rid itself of all the useless information that it had stored from the day's activities, making room for the induction of new information (Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 348). Where do dreams occur in the cycle of sleep, and why are they important to our psychological well-being? (Hint: Your text may have the answers for this one.) Dreams can occur anytime during the sleep cycle, but they occur the most and are the most vivid when in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep (Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 350). There is a connection between our sleep-dreams and the thoughts we have while we are awake (Pesant & Zadra, 2006). Research done on the relationship between dreams and the thoughts we have during our waking hours, found that the content of our dreams reflects these waking thoughts. Dreaming also helps us to process any new information we are learning along with the previous day’s thoughts (Pesant and Zadra, 2006). The same study also found there is a connection between a person's psychological health and the types of dreams people have. People that have a lower psychological well-being tend to have more dreams in which the interactions are more aggressive while also experiencing more negative feelings during these dreams. Persons with an insecure attachment level seem to remember their dreams more often, have dreams with an increased emotional intensity, and have more reports of tooth grinding and sleepwalking than persons with a secure attachment level (McNamara, Andresen, Clark, Zborowsky & Duffy, 2001). A person’s psychological well-being directly affects the content and emotional intensity of their dreams. How did Freud use dreams to help people understand their behaviors? Dream interpretation was intended to simplify and accelerate the psychological analysis of the psychoses (Freud, 1913, p. ix). According to psychoanalytic theory, dreams have two main functions: * To defend an individual’s sleep against disturbing thoughts by disguising those thoughts as symbols in dreams, also known as manifest content (Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 351). The defending dream relieves psychic tensions created during the day. * To serve as a form of wish fulfillment by allowing the dreamer to work harmlessly through unconscious desires (Zimbardo, et al, 2009, p. 351). Freud uses free association to start the process of becoming familiar with the individual’s associations to the world around them (Zimbardo et al, 2009, p. 351). This exercise will help him to understand the patient’s word associations and will eventually lead to the decoding of the symbolism (manifest content) present in the patient’s dreams. Once a dream is decoded, Freud uses the word associations from the free association exercise, to perform an interpretation of the dream. This interpretation should give Freud clues that will uncover the latent content (actual meaning) as it relates to conflicts, unfulfilled wishes, or repressed memories that are thought to have been censored by consciousness, and may lurk in the unconscious. Freud believed that abnormal behavior was caused by unresolved issues from early childhood or traumatic events that...