Sleep and Dream, Why and When

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When, Why, and Theories of Sleep and Dreams Everything, even plants sleeps. Whether it’s a cat, dog, fish or human, it sleeps. Any living thing sleeps at one time or another. We sleep for many reasons and theories. What goes on inside of our head while we sleep is considered dreaming. Why a person dreams is a mystery. Although there are many theories as to why we have dreams as well. But within the dreaming state a lot of things occur in the brain. A person doesn’t necessarily need to sleep in order to have dreams. Sleeping patterns are different for different people and also change with age. All biological systems in plants and animals are influenced by cycles or biological rhythms of physiological activity. ” Behavior, body temperature, and even growth are based upon these rhythms. Most animals vary on a twenty-four hour cycle that is influenced by the availability of light. This is also known as circadian rhythms. (Davis, 180) When circadian rhythms are maintained at a twelve hour lightness on and twelve hour lightness off, ones body conforms to a schedule kept by a biological clock. Most variations of light keep to a normal twenty-four hour cycle to adhere to our biological clocks.

When darkness occurs, we often feel less active and most alert within the onset of the light of day. Researchers have shown that a nucleus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus is where the biological clock is located. This nucleus helps prepare us for our daily activities by raising our blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature by telling our body’s nervous system and endocrine levels to adjust with the time of day. (Davis 180) Once everyday, our level of consciousness shifts into sleep mode and then into another state of consciousness when dreaming. Sleep is a natural, periodically recurring state of rest characterized by reduced activity, lessened responsiveness to stimuli and distinctive patterns of brain activity. ” If a person lives to be seventy years of age, they would have roughly spent twenty-one years of their life asleep. That is roughly one-third of their life in a sleeping stage. Through research and with the help of electroencephalograph (EEG), brain waves shift from the waking state to a sleeping state. Therefore, the discovery of different stages of sleep. Davis, 181) In 1964, a study was conducted and showed that the state of consciousness changes when the brain wave activity slowed down. (Stauch, 132) Today we know that dreams occur in all stages of sleep, and the dreams change in quality, content and structure depending on what stage you are in. (Strauch,131) Stage one of sleep, the dreamer is emotionally neutral, disorganized in the dream. (Stauch, 132) This state lasts from one to seven minutes. The dreamer feels drowsy when this stage occurs. Theta brain waves are detected through the EEG.

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Eye movement slows down, some muscle relaxation and irregular breathing takes place. People are easily awakened in this stage and some even claim that they weren’t sleeping. (Davis, 184) If uninterrupted the dreamer goes into Stage two of sleep. In Stage two of sleep, the dreamer views him/ herself as a passive observer and disregards the images as a dream. (Stauch,133) The second stage lasts anywhere between twenty to thirty minutes and is considered “real” sleep. Eye movements are at a minimal and muscle activity decreases to a lower level then before. Davis, 184) Stage three is entered when the sleeper loses consciousness as the dream replaces the outer existence and they find themselves more involved with the dreaming events. (Staunch, 133) Delta waves are detected through EEG. No memory will be occurred if the dreamer is awakened at this stage and there is barely any eye movement. (Davis, 184)Sleep walking often occurs in this stage. (Davis, 198) This stage occurs about thirty to forty-five minutes after falling asleep and left uninterrupted. Stage four is the deepest sleep stage there is.

Delta waves are still present and continue to increase in proportion to other brain waves. A person is very difficult to arouse at this time and there is virtually no eye movements and the EEG patterns become much more in sync. If awakened in this stage, the dreamer is often disorientated and confused. (Davis, 185) Sleepwalking can occur in this stage as well. (Davis, 198) We gradually repeat through the stages of sleep backwards several times before reaching our first period of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. (Davis, 185) Researchers have found that adults that have been awakened at this stage of REM sleep often reported dreaming.

Although dreaming is not limited to REM sleep, but sometimes NREM have some kind of mental activity. (Davis, 181) More dreams have been reported with REM sleep because of the dreams being more vivid and tend to last much longer. Dreams during NREM have often been over shadowed from the start of the REM dreams. Mostly because of the NREM dreams were actually not considered as genuine dreams. (Strauch, 135) An NREM dream often resembles a snapshot from daily life, where REM dreams are much more detailed and more eventful. (Strauch, 139) Experiments show that the eye movement is related to the dreamers viewing pattern. Strauch, 142) But eye movement isn’t as accurate enough to predict the specific viewing directions. (Strauch 143) Our dreams are often theorized that they are determined by the thoughts, feelings and events that we have experienced at one time in our life. Dreams sometimes evoke certain emotions and reactions within the dreamer and are sometimes very closely related to actual waking life issues. (Ananthaswamy, Vol. 211) In ancient Greece, dream beliefs that if sleeping in a special temple provided access to the future or prescriptions of cures to illnesses.

Many concepts of dreams contain the notion that sleep was a state in which a person was freed from their worldly restraints. (Carskadon, 198) Many also think that dreams are an extension of our waking lives. We usually dream about the same things that we think about or experience during that day. There is also the Freud censorship theory. His theory was that dreams should be viewed as a meaningful psychological miracle. They were based upon an unconscious latent wish. (Strauch, 7) He also suggested that dreams have a manifest to what happened and latent content to what it was telling us.

He believed that most dreams were sexual desires. If these desires were openly expressed they would more than likely appall us. His thoughts to such restrictions had such a powerful force that they must lead to some psychological disturbance. (Parker, 20) He also thought that the unconscious is where the wishes and desires that were expressed in our dreams were hidden. Freud highly believed that all healthy people were neurotic and repressed. (Parker, 21) In his suggestions, we all constantly have to suppress our thoughts of sex and that anxiety and stress were released in symbols.

These symbols were a representation of day to day symbols. There is also a theory of activation synthesis. This theory is nothing more than the random firing of neurons in the brain. Each time the neurons are fired an image is created. Freud‘s associate Carl Gustan Jung believed the dream is a natural occurrence. Jung also believed that there was a part of the mind that contained and stored information common to all humans. This meaning that different people in different cultures, beliefs, backgrounds can have dreams with certain symbols that appear to have the same meaning.

His main way of his interpretation of dreams was to have the dreamer talk about the dream and explore it in its entirety. (Parker, 22) In 1953, Medard Boss suggested that dreams are representations of our life situations. In 1954, Thomas French suggested that dreams were the function of coping with current psychological conflicts. Dreams, dream theories and interpretation occupy a prominent position in the long history of dream psychology. (Parker, 8) Why a person sleeps has a lot of theories as well. We need to sleep to prevent exhaustion.

While we are awake, we burn more calories than while we are asleep. When food sources were limited in history, the cavemen could have preformed this mechanism for sleeping eight hours a day for limiting the use of scarce energy resources. Another theory argues that sleeping enhances the chances of survival. In prehistoric times, predators would hunt at night making it difficult for man to hunt because of the darkness. (Davis, 190) Sleeping is also used for memory consolidation. Performances in humans showed an enhancement by post-training sleep to pre-training sleep.

Studies have shown that a person is able to remember newly learned information if taken in before sleep has occurred instead of just after waking. Sleep deprivation causes impaired thinking, hallucinations, and blurred vision. Too much of sleep deprivation can cause death. You don’t necessarily need to sleep to have dreams, either. With sleep deprivation, your mind tells your body that it needs to rest. By not sleeping, your brain will cause you to hallucinate in order for it to rest. (Davis, 191) Without sleep, a person can become paranoid and will not be able to determine fact from fantasy and reflexes are largely impaired as well.

The brain does this in order to get the person to sleep. When sleep doesn’t occur, the brain will shut its self off in order to rest. Sleeping is also used for restoration of the body. (Davis, 189) Meaning, sleep restores the resources that we use during in our daily activities. No one knows exactly what restorative processes that occur during sleep. Studies have shown that they growth hormones are secreted in higher levels in Stage four sleep. Some studies even show that certain brain chemicals are restored during sleep as like the neurotransmitters. These chemicals are highly present when we fall asleep. Davis, 190-191) Without sleep a person can not function properly. We need to sleep for a lot more reasons and theories that have been known. Why a person dreams will always remain a mystery until a scientist can come up with another way to see into the eye of the brain. Until then it will always be a controversial topic and everyone will have their own theories about their own dreams. A person can research books, magazines, computer websites, dictionaries, encyclopedia’s and even astrology to tell them what their dreams mean. But really no one really knows for sure, it is all a scientific guess.

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