Why Do We Dream?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

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Did you know that we consume one-third of our life sleeping? Or, that we change from periods of deep sleep to periods of light sleep about five times during the night? Or, that we only dream during the period of light sleep, which is usually around morning hours? Not even the most prestigious scientists know exactly why people dream but there are a few explanations in the works. Scientists have proven, though, that on average people dream three to five times during an eight hour sleep. There are people who claim that they do not have dreams, while in fact they just don't remember their dreams. There are many options of what a dream is about. Most dreams reflect on the events or occurrences that happened throughout the day. Others could be the result triggered by intense fears someone might acquire. Tension and stress are also major causes of dreams.

Scientists and other individuals have led to the fact that all dreams are linked with people's fears, emotions, desires and needs. Even though the question "Why do people dream?" probably won't have an exact or proven answer until the distant future, there are still some explanations to why we dream. Such explanations vary from physiological to psychological and prophetic beliefs.

The term "physiological" deals with how the body works. Various scientists believe individuals dream to "exercise their brains". The justification for this is that when you are awake, great deals of messages are relentlessly being sent among all your billions of brain cells to keep you alive. So the idea is when you are asleep, dreams exercise the pathways between brain cells. There are some facts that make this clarification believable. One of them: the first couple years of your life are the most intense for learning, which means you probably dream an awful lot. The other is that the brain waves during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep look about the same as your brain waves when you are awake. During other parts of sleep, the brain waves look rather different. Furthermore, the waves received by REM sleep are replacements for brain waves, which are necessary for brain functioning.

The "psychological" term refers to your thoughts and emotions. These thoughts and emotions trigger dreams to be about concerns in our lives or some dreams may even help us know more about ourselves. Drams can be about fears, wishes, plans, hopes and worries. Dreams could also be about unsettled business left over form past lives. In spite of how strange and mysterious dreams can seem, a few people have always suspected that there's some connection between dreams and your waking experiences and emotional needs.

But then again, some people just aren't satisfied with simple explanations. The prophetic viewpoint in this subject deals with dreams being able to tell someone the future. A lot of people in the distant past, and now, think dreams must be more complicated than this. In the Bible and within a lot of cultures, dreams are thought to be prophetic, which means they can predict the future. The famous Sigmund Freud, who gave us a lot of ideas about how our minds work, was very interested in interpreting dreams. He thought that dreams contained symbols of things hidden deep within our minds and memories. Prophetic dreams, also referred to as precognitive dreams, are dreams that seemingly foretell the future. One rational theory to explain this phenomenon is that our dreaming mind is able to piece together bits of information and observation that we normally overlook. In other words, our unconscious mind knows what is coming before we consciously piece together the same information.

Even thought the answer to why people dream may never be answered with a certain affirmative response, there will always be numerous beliefs. From religious to scientific viewpoints, drams will always be mysterious to the human mind. Since scientists are not yet able to tell what the functions to most of the brain are, it will take even longer to acquire a solution to why human beings dream. Through dreaming we can become aware of other worlds, which we certainly describe. But we can't describe what makes us aware of those worlds. But even though we can't describe what makes us aware we can definitely feel how dreaming opens up the realms of those worlds. Dreaming seems to be an amazing ability that our minds do not lack. It is such a mysterious phenomenon that it has stumped beings for centuries. What is now is that the three most common responses to why people dream include facts on how the body works, relations with someone's thoughts and emotions, and the ability to tell or warn someone of the future. And so the final thoughts of today's paper are: Do dreams provide us with insightful messages from our unconscious, sleeping minds or are dreams prophetic messages sent to us from divine being? Or are they just empty, meaningless visions that we create on our own?