There’re many theories about why we dream. Dreaming is purposeful, not the result of random brain activity while we sleep. Dreaming is thought of as the unconscious mind’s way of processing the day’s events, sorting through memories, learning from what has happened, and planning the future.
Some people function on 5 hours of sleep a night, others require 10 hours. The average length of sleeping time for an adult is 7 and a half hours. Although some people claim to need almost no sleep, this has not been substantiated. At least 5 hours of sleep seem to be needed by everyone, albeit this may be through catnapping – several short periods of sleep throughout the day. During an average sleeping period we have four or five dreaming cycles, each with a number of stages. Two clearly distinguishable stages of sleep exist. NREM [nonrapid eye movement] sleep occupies most of the sleep period. During this time we have relatively low pulse and blood pressure, little activation of the automatic nervous system, and few or no reports of dreaming. The second type, REM [rapid eye movements] sleep occurs at intervals of about 90 minutes while we sleep. It is characterized by activation of the automatic nervous system and rapid eye movements. Every NREM phase is followed by an REM phase, each progressively longer. It is during the REM periods of sleep that dreams take place, whether we remember them or not.
Dreaming constitutes about 25% of a period of sleep [and as much as 50% in a newborn child] which means we’re dreaming for up to two hours each time we sleep for a long period of time. The final REM period immediately before we wake lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and it is the dream at the end of this last cycle that we most often recall. Although many people say they do not dream, there’s no difference in REM sleep of dreamers and professed nondreamers. If the professed nondreamers are awakened during REM sleep, they’ll usually report some dreaming activity, so it is truer to say that they don’t remember their dreams.
While dreaming we’re protected from gross physical movement, because the brain paralyses the motor neuron system. Eye movements continue, because they don’t interfere with sleeping. When this protective mechanism was inhibited in animals, scientists witnessed sleeping cats leaping to their feet and attacking nonexistent objects. When people are woken up by researchers and deprived of REM sleep, they have difficulty remembering key events in the day. And if this continues over several days, people may have trouble learning and suffer serious physical and psychological changes.
Contact me for more on how NLP can help you make the most out of the messages from your dreams.