Whether we recall them or not, most of us can confidently say we’ve had a dream before. Was it scary? Maybe. Did it make sense? Probably not. But is it possible they have a complex meaning? Well, we really can’t say, but maybe.
(image via: the swaddle)
The cause of dreams has been a topic of conversation for years and years. Ancient Egyptians thought dreams were just a different way to see and plan things; Ancient Greeks and Romans believed dreams to be predictions or even visits from the dead. By the end of the 19th century Sigmund Freud came up with the theory of repressed longing, that dreaming allows us to sort through wishes. Modern psychologists and neurologists, with the help of new technology, of course, have developed a number of new theories. One prominent theory is that dreams don’t actually mean anything, and they’re just a way for our brains to dump excess data. Another theory is that dreaming does serve a purpose and dreams should be seen as a defense mechanism because dreaming allows us to play out threatening events over and over again.
(image via: how to academy)
In 2007 researchers at the Max Planck Medical Institute in Heidelberg, Germany believed to confirm that during sleep the hippocampus takes on all the information that the rest of your brain has been holding onto, it can now clear, by way of dreaming, then the next day the hippocampus is now “empty” and can take on all new information. Now because this data dump is essentially live-streaming in your brain, this allows information to get a little jumbled up, kind of like when your show has to buffer, so this is why dreams only kind of resemble what actually happened.
All of this research poses the questioning of acknowledging and even acting on your dreams; some psychologists say do it or don’t, that it doesn’t matter; while others say that analyzing your dreams allows you to consider alternative events that you might not think about when you’re awake.
So when it comes to the science behind dreams, why we do it, how we remember them, it’s safe to say there probably exists a theory out there for whichever theory you may personally believe. Whether dreams are visits from the dead, nothing more than a data dump, or just wishful thinking, we can say we certainly think life, err sleep rather, would be very boring without them.