What Is Dreaming?Sleep is made up of a number of different stages. In 1953, scientists found that the key stage related to dreaming is called REM sleep, for Rapid Eye Movement. Out of 8 hours of sleep, babies are in REM for around 4 hours. This decreases as you grow older, and for adults REM usually occurs for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
REM sleep does not happen all at once - it tends to happen in 90 minute cycles. Not only do your eyes move quickly at this time, but your breath rate and heart rate increase, and you often also become sexually aroused. Your body becomes paralysed at the same time, to prevent you from moving your īrealī body as your dream.
REM sleep is initiated by the īponsī part of your brain. It releases the chemical acetylcholine, which then causes the other bodily reactions to begin. When REM sleep is ending, noradrenaline and serotonin are emitted to turn off REM sleep.
Dreams seem to actually occur in the frontal area of the brain. People who are in accidents where this area are damaged can still enter REM sleep, but they do not have dreams. People who are on dopamine-inhibitors also find their do not have dreams.
Sigmeund Freud was one of the first scientists to truly study dreams. In "The Interpretation of Dreams", he talked about how dreams tap into the unconscious to bring hidden thoughts into the conscious mind. Carl Jung also explored dreams, finding that they were used to help let those parts of a personality that were normally supressed to get some attention.
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