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5 Stages of Sleep

By jennaashleym May 05, 2013 1227 Words
Jenna MeyersCHOICE G

“In a report, explain and compare the theories of dreaming described in your textbook. Write about the theory you find most appealing and tell why. Log on to and write about three new things you learned there.”

The textbook refers to five dream theories, Freud’s wish fulfillment, Information-processing, Physiological Function, Activation-synthesis, and Cognitive Development. Freud’s wish fulfillment theory categorizes the topics of dreams and why we have them into simple psychosexual wish fulfillment. His theory is based on the idea that our dreams are nothing more than wish fulfillments of the unconscious, strongly influenced by our sexual cravings and orientation. I believe that dreams need to be understood with the following idea: our mind is made of several layers: Unconscious, Pre-Conscious, Conscious. Freud’s theory may be correct in part, as to the individual’s personal sexual dispositions, but not as a means to define a large spectrum of dreams with the individual’s personal influences. It lacks any scientific support. In contrast, the Physiological Function Theory, which suggests that regular brain stimuli from REM sleep may help develop and preserve neural pathways. “Earlier studies have suggested it appears early in life, in the third trimester in humans, and research has produced evidence the brain of the fetus may in a sense be "seeing" images long before its eyes are opened, so the REM state appears to help the brain build neural connections, especially in the visual areas” ( This theory while it does have some scientific support, it does not explain why we experience meaningful dreams that hint underlying feelings or emotions that the individual has felt/is feeling at the time being or suppressed memories. The theory does not explain how our mind weaves stories, which make up our dream state that is explained in Activation-synthesis. “Dreams represent a parallel consciousness state that is running continuously, but which is normally suppressed while the person is awake.” 

Activation-synthesis is the theory that REM sleep triggers neural activity that evokes random visual memories, which our sleeping brain weaves into stories. This theory can be closely related to the Physiological Function theory as it pertains to brain stimulation and neural activity that affects our sleeping state and functionality of memory retrieval.

Cognitive Development Theory states dream content reflects the dreamer’s knowledge and understanding of newly learned information, but does not address the neuroscience of dreams. As to any dream theory, Cognitive Development plays a role in the explanation of why we remember things better if we fall into the REM state of sleep rather than simply sleeping or not sleeping enough. With young children, this might be true as to at their age, they are learning important skills and tasks necessary to basic tasks in every day life that they will use for the rest of their lives. This theory can’t really be used to explain matured adults who at this point, are not learning very necessary information and have to a point, stopped the learning process. This theory, in its entirety, is very similar to the Physiological Function theory, which explains that brain stimulation from REM sleep aids in developing and preserving neural pathways. Which can almost be directly related to cognitive development. The Information Processing theory impressed me because the theory is based on our dreams and helps us sort out the day’s events and consolidate our memories. But, a critical consideration is, “Why do we sometimes dream about things we have not experienced?” This questions the theory’s basis of memory retrieval and consolidation. I do not agree substantively that dreams are merely the act of processing the input or output of data for some non-specific reason. I, and many others, believe that dreams are almost always the efforts of the subconscious (not available to us in our awake state - thus, "sub" (underneath) consciousness) to reveal things to us that we need to know to correct misinterpretations we have, to settle unresolved issues, to reassure us, and to guide us to both inner and outer resources for solving problems, all ultimately in order to live the best life we possibly can. Information processing, along with the other listed theories of dreaming are similar in explaining how we interpret memories, new information, experiences, and subconscious queues that are unavailable or not as impressionable during our waking hours. As I explored the Dreamgate website, I learned about Lucid Dreaming, Paranormal Dreams, and if dreams actually have any meaning.

Lucid dreaming is defined as “dreaming where the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming and yet does not wake up” These kinds of dreams can be extremely realistic and vivid. In a lucid dream, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over their participation within the dream or be able to manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment. As with any dream, lucid dreaming can be an impression of feelings or information learned or felt by the dreamer, but can be easily refined by them.

Paranormal dreaming is “Dreams that differ in some significant way from the expected range of ‘normal dreams’ accepted in our culture. Often unusual, sometimes uncanny, these experiences happen to us when our physical bodies sleep, or have become ‘unconscious’, and do not seem easily or neatly explained by the conventional theories of ‘reality’ promoted by mainstream scientists.” Some paranormal dreams could be refined to prediction dreams, lucid dreams, and past life/parallel self dreams. A big question that is constantly asked is if dreams could predict the future. Dreamgate stated that “Many impressive accounts from reliable sources relate dreams in which specific, unlikely and unexpected events take place, that appear to accurately predict later physical reality events. Dreamers who have had a number of such experiences sometimes report that such ‘precognitive’ dreams have a different "feel" to them than ordinary dreams.” Which possibly stifles the question of, “Do dreams have any meaning?”

The answer is yes. Although, dreams have been debated similarly to the debate if life itself has any meaning. Which in the end is more of an opinion than a fact. It all depends personally on the dreamer. From a scientific standpoint, the question of meaning is defined as if it is functioning to help us thrive and survive in some way.


Dorrell, Philip. "Dreams Update." Philip Dorrell's Home Page. 23 Apr. 2005. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

Edwards, Lin. "Dreams May Have an Important Physiological Function." - Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine. Http://, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

"Dream Library - Non _interpretive Dreamwork - Lucid Dreaming, MutualDreaming, Dream Psi, Intentional Dreaming..." D.r.e.a.m.G.a.t.e. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

Kellogg III, Ph.D, E. W. "Paranormal Phenomena FAQ." The International Association for the Study of Dreams. Http:// Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

Wilkerson, Richard. "Dream Library - Meaning of Dreams." D.r.e.a.m.G.a.t.e. Http:// Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

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