Despite being scanned and scrutinized by seers and scientists over the years, sleep and dream time are still not completely understood. We haven’t fully figured out what our bodies are doing during the average third of our lives that are spent in sleep and dreams.
What we have learned is that our dreaming brain shuts down certain circuits, those of rational thought, and promotes the connections governing emotions, sensations, and memories. The result gives us nighttime movies with strange symbols and worlds where clocks talk and people can fly.
Let’s Start With the Basics
We know that REM and NREM phases follow each other during the course of each sleep cycle. The REM phase steadily gaining in length during each subsequent phase. Ten minutes for the first, up to forty minutes for the final. We also know that this entire process repeats itself at 90 minute intervals all through the night. So on average, we can have four or five dreams per night.
A Bit about Brain Waves
If we are moving toward sleep, our brain waves quickly drop down, down, down from Alpha to Theta and on to Delta. After approximately 90 minutes, they speed up again, as we drift back up, up, up from Delta to Theta, finally stopping at Alpha. Our bodies become quite still and now dreams begin to form.
As waking time approaches, we easily move from Delta to Theta to Alpha. Sometimes we move easily into Beta, sometimes we linger in upper levels of Alpha, the state for lucid dreams. It is here, that we find we can actively influence our actions in these dreams.
Dream a Little Dream
This results because we were still in a dream state, and our consciousness had not had a chance to shift back naturally into the reality of Beta, our wake state. This instance is more likely to occur when we did not get enough sleep, or had toxins in our bodies. Luckily, these feelings only last a short time, and we will soon be fully back in reality.
Now that you know more about what dreams are, next time we will dive deep into a look at some of the most common dreams, which you may have experienced yourself, and explore exactly what they may mean…
If you missed any of the articles in this series, click the links below to read more!
Part 2 - Common Dreams
Part 3 - Intro to Dream Interpretation
Part 4 - Remembering Your Dreams
Part 5 - Dreaming the Rainbow
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