The Science Behind Dreams
Why do we dream?
To better understand why a nightmare disorder happens, it’s important to understand the science of dreams.
On average, people dream for around two hours a night during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is the moment when the body is in a deep sleep.
REM sleep happens through the signals from a part of the brain known as the pons. During this moment, signals to the spinal cord are shut off to avoid the body from acting out the dream in real life. For example, if a person dreams that they are running, they might run in real life and cause accidents. This could happen when a person has a sleep-walking disorder.
Regardless, scientists are not entirely sure why we dream, although there is an ongoing study to help understand why it happens.
One of the theories, why we dream, is that the doctors think that the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is responsible for controlling our memories, works with the neocortex, the part of the brain that controls higher-level thought. The brain then tries to create meaning of all the information that it has gathered, which we then experience as dreams.
Meanwhile, some scientists believe that dreams are related to the signals that are sent to the cortex while we sleep. Most of these signals are random, although some are essential for learning and for the memory. The brain then tries to interpret the random signals into one cohesive story and that turns into our dreams.
Read on to learn more about nightmare disorder.
The Science Behind Nightmares
Nightmares usually occur during the last hours of REM sleep, which is why we likely wake up from it and remember it the most.
Why do we have nightmares?
When it comes to nightmares, scientists believe that it has a positive purpose regardless of the anxiety, fear, and physical distress we experience when waking up.
Some scientists often call bad dreams “threat rehearsals” or when our mind rehearses what we can do in the event of a threatening or stressful event in our waking life. However, other scientists believe nightmares help people work through upsetting events of the day. Meanwhile, some scientists theorize that nightmares are the brain’s way to bring up the psychological issues that we suppress but now have to address
Regardless of the real purpose of nightmares, it has been scientifically proven to help us.
Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation