Dreaming: A Series of Benefits from Unavoidable REM Sleep

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Dreaming: A Series of Benefits from Unavoidable REM Sleep

Neo-surrealism is dreamlike art, or art inspired by the lights and surrealistic states of dreams

Neo-surrealism is dreamlike art, or art inspired by the lights and surrealistic states of dreams

© George Grie

Neo-surrealism is dreamlike art, or art inspired by the lights and surrealistic states of dreams

© George Grie

© George Grie

Neo-surrealism is dreamlike art, or art inspired by the lights and surrealistic states of dreams

Katie Nichols, Sr. Editor

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“I had nightmares as a kid. As an adult, I have very prosaic dreams”-

Guillermo del Toro

The dictionary defines dreaming as “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep”. If you’re anything like I am, then you have extremely vivid, memorable dreams almost every night. If you’re anything resembling human, you dream every single night multiple times and have no recollection of it. What many fail to realize, though, is that dreaming is not just a sensation or an image… but it is a necessity for our mental health. According to National Geographic, dreaming actually can make an individual smarter and more creative. As someone who is completely fascinated with psychology, I had to look further into this. Why does dreaming boost creativity, and how does it increase intellect?

Dreaming and Memory

It is extremely important (if you have trouble remembering any dreams) to retrace them only seconds after you wake up. Our short-term memory only retains information for 10 to 20 seconds… use these precious seconds to recall any detail or theme that you can from the REM sleep you have forgotten. Why exactly is this something that should be done? It is shown through sleep studies that those who recall their dreams in the sliver of short-term memory they are offered seem to retain them and form better, more vivid long-term memory. So, yes, one benefit from remembering dreams (and crazy details about them) is that your memory will become strikingly better over time, which helps with later medical conditions that relate directly to forgetfulness.

Dreaming and Futuristic Events

Not only do they help with memory and give you more long-term details and intellect, but they boost our imagination simultaneously. Think about dreams: what makes them such a strange subject? When recalling some of my own, I remember how distorted my sense of reality was… how nothing was geometrical, and how all of the scary aspects or beautiful colors played a key part in future events on my mind before going to bed. Most people experience dreams when they are feeling intense anxiousness or uncertainty about some futuristic circumstance. Dreams help us better prepare for our futures when we are able to play out the best or worst scenarios… they allow us to be realistic. We are able to see the worst and best in people surrounding us as well and find a healthy medium when looking back at the distorted scenario our dream has offered us.
Dreaming and Creativity

Sometimes the right-brained part of your personality, the “subjective, creative, aware of feelings, aware of people, [he’s] emotional, and an idiot” part of the brain, as described by Bo Burnham, comes into play whenever we dream. Even if you are not artistic and want nothing to do with film, paintings, drawings, music, photography, etc… it is likely that you still dream in color. Some people are so inspired by their REM hallucinations that they create amazing short stories or paintings with amazing detail due to how mesmerized they were. Everyone has had a dream at some point that has stuck with them and made them contemplate a theme or why certain colors were presented as they were. Most remember strange ones from childhood (because childhood is the root of one’s sense of self), but if you try enough, you can remember them from this point in your life as well. Dreams have the amazing ability to inspire, and from inspiration comes creation.

Increasing Vivid Unconsciousness

Hmm… the most obvious way to dream more is to, you guessed it, sleep! Not just sleeping, but napping. Studies show that the most powerful REM hallucinations occur when napping takes place for a period that lasts up to 90 minutes. As a side note, every night, whether we know it or not, our bodies are certain to circle through the 5 stages of sleep: Stage 1 Sleep- slowed breathing, larger brain waves, hallucinations and feelings of falling. Stage 2 Sleep- deeper sleep, more difficult to awaken, sleep talking. Stage 3 Sleep- even deeper, difficult to awaken. Stage 4 Sleep- very deep, sleep talking and bed wetting. Stage 5 Sleep, or REM- rapid eye movement and brain waves, dreaming, increased heart rate, cortical activity. Every 90-120 minutes, we go through the 5 stages. We spend 20-25% of our sleeping time in REM, as it decreases with age. Through having deeper, more relaxed and consistent sleep, you will experience more intense dreams.

Dreaming in Closing

There are so many advantages to dreaming: improving your long and short-term memory, increasing intellect, problem-solving future events, boosting creativity, but above all else, dreaming is just awesome. How cool is it to shut your eyes and have a visual film your mind has created from events in your life with varying colors and themes that help you become healthier… and you can’t even control it? It is one of my favorite things to research, and I believe that everyone should take time out and try to care more for the intriguing inevitability their sleep provides.