Why Do We Dream? How Long Do Dreams Last?

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✅ This article has been medically reviewed by: Dr. Amita Fotedar, Ph.D., Dr. Kate Sołdaj, M.D. and Dr. Bartłomiej Orybkiewicz, M.D.

Dreams can be disturbing, entertaining, and bizarre. Everybody dreams but not all remember it the following day. But you might be thinking, why do we dream? And what these dreams mean anyway? 

Science has made significant progress in making people understand how do dreams work? Scientists are exploring many theories for the answer. Some scientists have concluded that dreams don’t have a direct effect but are a result of the biological procedures occurring during sleep. Many people studying sleep think that a dream has a significant purpose. Dream theories span scientific disciplines from psychology to neurobiology. 

So, let’s get to know the facts about dreams. 

Why Do We Dream?

Scientists come up with their theories, but no one knows where do dreams come fromResearchers have to say that dreams don’t have a meaning or purpose. Others say people dream of their emotional, mental, and physical health. 

Many studies have researched the importance of dreams for our well-being and health. In a study, researchers woke up the people who were just about to go into REM sleep. It showed that people who were not allowed to dream had, 

  • Anxiety
  • A difficult time concentrating
  • Depression
  • More tension
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of coordination
  • A tendency to hallucinate

Several experts have to say that dreams exist for, 

  • Incorporate memories
  • Help in solving various problems in our lives
  • Process various emotions

In case you have a troubling thought while going to bed, you might wake up feeling better about the circumstance or wake up with a solution. 

At times, dreams will help your brains process the thought and the events that took place throughout the day. 

Other dreams might be because of the regular brain activity. So, it might mean quite a little. Researchers across the world are still working to find out why we do we dream. 

The Role Of Dreams

why do we dream

Researchers don’t have the same viewpoints on why do we have dreams and their role. However, some theories run behind this. 

  • As a Therapy

The dreams you have might be a way to confront the emotional traumas you are facing in life. Since your brain operates at a greater emotional level than when you are awake, it can make a connection to feelings your conscious self might not be able to make. 

  • As the Muse

One theory behind dreaming is that it promotes creative tendencies. Many artists give credit to their dreams for inspiring them to do some creative works. You might have awakened from your sleep at times with an excellent idea for a song or painting. 

Dreams don’t have the logic filter that you have in real life. It can restrict the creative flow. However, when you are sleeping, your ideas and thoughts don’t have any restrictions. 

  • As a Flight-or-Fight Training

The brain area that is most active when you are dreaming is the amygdala. It is the part of the brain related to the survival instincts you have. It is your fight-or-flight response. 

Theory suggests this because this part of the brain appears to be more active when you are sleeping than awake. It can be your brain’s way to prepare to deal with a threat. 

Luckily, the brainstem can send out nerve signals in your REM sleep time that helps in relaxing your muscle. This way, you do no try to punch or run when you are sleeping. 

  • As a Memory Storage

One well-known theory about dream’s purpose is it will help in storing important memories. It also helps store things that you have learned, sort through complex feelings and thoughts, and eliminate unimportant memories. 

Research has shown that sleep will help in storing memories. When you come across new information and then sleep on it, you can recall things better than awake. 

Why do we dream and how it can affect memory storage isn’t clear yet? However, dreams will help your brain effectively to store significant information. It can block the stimuli that interfere with learning and memory. 

Do Dreams Have Meaning?

This topic is still up for debate. In 1950, Freud had come up with dream interpretation. However, there has been nothing to substantiate his claims. 

Researches show that people having post-traumatic stress syndrome are highly likely to have nightmares. Hence, dreaming might accompany psychiatric conditions, but regular people also have nightmares. So, opinions are divided. 

How Long Do Dreams Last?

why do dream last

It is hard to say how long a dream can last. You dream during your REM sleep cycles. These occur about every 90 minutes. However, how much and how long you dream depends on your age, medications, medical conditions, and the total hours of sleep you are getting every night. 

Early in the night, it might last for not more than a few minutes, but it can get longer as you sleep. Later in the night, it can be more than 30 minutes. Hence, you might spend just half an hour in one dream.

Can Dreams Be Difficult To Remember?

Researchers don’t yet know if people can easily forget dreams. We might forget dreams because if we remembered them all, it would have been difficult to tell dreams from real memories. 

Also, it is hard to remember dreams as, during REM sleep, the body shuts down the brain’s system, which creates memories. So, you tend to remember only the ones which happen before you wake up. It is when the brain turns on its activities. 

Final Words

Some people believe that the mind doesn’t forget dreams, but people simply do not know how to access them. Dreams are stored in memory and are waiting to be recalled. It explains why you remember a dream later in the day.  

Dreams can give you an insight into what is preoccupying you, engaging your thoughts, and troubling you. 

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