The Importance of Dream Sleep

Posted Jul 16, 2018

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Summary

  • Dreams let us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

Everybody needs sleep to stay well. But did you know we also need to dream? That doesn’t mean you must remember your dreams or wake up knowing whether you dreamed or not—it’s simply a phase of sleep we all need for our well-being.

Sleep stages

Healthy sleep occurs in a pattern. We fall deeper and deeper asleep through four stages, then we enter the fifth stage: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM is often called dream sleep. Through the night, most of us have many cycles of stages one through REM. It could look like this: 1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM.

Why REM?

We need the deep stages of sleep for the body to rest and fix its cells and systems. When we are sick, more of our sleep is in stages three and four. Why do we need a stage of sleep where the brain is so active it looks awake on an EEG? This stage is for our mind—a time for the brain to process information, feelings, and memories. In REM, short-term memories are stored as long-term memories. This helps solidify learning.

So, why dreams?

While dreaming can happen in any stage of sleep, the brain activity during REM makes dreams most likely to happen here. There are many theories why we dream, such as:

  • It’s caused by biological changes during REM.
  • It lets us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

If a dream helps us feel calmer or understand ourselves better, then it has value no matter what the theories. If we wake up confused or laughing, wondering what a dream was about, we can toss it aside as just a dream.

Keep this in mind: If you notice you are dreaming more than usual, you might not be getting enough sleep. When deprived of sleep, we go more quickly into REM, with longer dream sleep and shorter deep sleep periods.

What about nightmares?

Dream theories apply to nightmares too. Bad dreams are more likely to happen after trauma, in times of high stress or sickness, and when taking some drugs. Whether random or meaningful, nightmares can upset our lives. If you are having a lot of nightmares that ruin your sleep or impact you in the day, think about getting help from a mental health expert.

Tips for dreamers

Would you like to remember more of your dreams? Try this:

  • As you fall asleep, tell yourself you will remember your dreams.
  • Wake up naturally instead of to an alarm.
  • Keep a pen and paper near your bed and write down dream details as soon as you wake up.

If you still can’t remember your dreams, know that you’re getting healthy REM sleep if you feel well rested. 

By Laurie M. Stewart, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: American Sleep Association, www.sleepassociation.org; National Sleep Foundation, https://sleepfoundation.org

Summary

  • Dreams let us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

Everybody needs sleep to stay well. But did you know we also need to dream? That doesn’t mean you must remember your dreams or wake up knowing whether you dreamed or not—it’s simply a phase of sleep we all need for our well-being.

Sleep stages

Healthy sleep occurs in a pattern. We fall deeper and deeper asleep through four stages, then we enter the fifth stage: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM is often called dream sleep. Through the night, most of us have many cycles of stages one through REM. It could look like this: 1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM.

Why REM?

We need the deep stages of sleep for the body to rest and fix its cells and systems. When we are sick, more of our sleep is in stages three and four. Why do we need a stage of sleep where the brain is so active it looks awake on an EEG? This stage is for our mind—a time for the brain to process information, feelings, and memories. In REM, short-term memories are stored as long-term memories. This helps solidify learning.

So, why dreams?

While dreaming can happen in any stage of sleep, the brain activity during REM makes dreams most likely to happen here. There are many theories why we dream, such as:

  • It’s caused by biological changes during REM.
  • It lets us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

If a dream helps us feel calmer or understand ourselves better, then it has value no matter what the theories. If we wake up confused or laughing, wondering what a dream was about, we can toss it aside as just a dream.

Keep this in mind: If you notice you are dreaming more than usual, you might not be getting enough sleep. When deprived of sleep, we go more quickly into REM, with longer dream sleep and shorter deep sleep periods.

What about nightmares?

Dream theories apply to nightmares too. Bad dreams are more likely to happen after trauma, in times of high stress or sickness, and when taking some drugs. Whether random or meaningful, nightmares can upset our lives. If you are having a lot of nightmares that ruin your sleep or impact you in the day, think about getting help from a mental health expert.

Tips for dreamers

Would you like to remember more of your dreams? Try this:

  • As you fall asleep, tell yourself you will remember your dreams.
  • Wake up naturally instead of to an alarm.
  • Keep a pen and paper near your bed and write down dream details as soon as you wake up.

If you still can’t remember your dreams, know that you’re getting healthy REM sleep if you feel well rested. 

By Laurie M. Stewart, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: American Sleep Association, www.sleepassociation.org; National Sleep Foundation, https://sleepfoundation.org

Summary

  • Dreams let us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

Everybody needs sleep to stay well. But did you know we also need to dream? That doesn’t mean you must remember your dreams or wake up knowing whether you dreamed or not—it’s simply a phase of sleep we all need for our well-being.

Sleep stages

Healthy sleep occurs in a pattern. We fall deeper and deeper asleep through four stages, then we enter the fifth stage: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM is often called dream sleep. Through the night, most of us have many cycles of stages one through REM. It could look like this: 1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM-1-2-3-4-REM.

Why REM?

We need the deep stages of sleep for the body to rest and fix its cells and systems. When we are sick, more of our sleep is in stages three and four. Why do we need a stage of sleep where the brain is so active it looks awake on an EEG? This stage is for our mind—a time for the brain to process information, feelings, and memories. In REM, short-term memories are stored as long-term memories. This helps solidify learning.

So, why dreams?

While dreaming can happen in any stage of sleep, the brain activity during REM makes dreams most likely to happen here. There are many theories why we dream, such as:

  • It’s caused by biological changes during REM.
  • It lets us work through recent or past events and emotions.
  • Dreams tell our deepest fears and desires.

If a dream helps us feel calmer or understand ourselves better, then it has value no matter what the theories. If we wake up confused or laughing, wondering what a dream was about, we can toss it aside as just a dream.

Keep this in mind: If you notice you are dreaming more than usual, you might not be getting enough sleep. When deprived of sleep, we go more quickly into REM, with longer dream sleep and shorter deep sleep periods.

What about nightmares?

Dream theories apply to nightmares too. Bad dreams are more likely to happen after trauma, in times of high stress or sickness, and when taking some drugs. Whether random or meaningful, nightmares can upset our lives. If you are having a lot of nightmares that ruin your sleep or impact you in the day, think about getting help from a mental health expert.

Tips for dreamers

Would you like to remember more of your dreams? Try this:

  • As you fall asleep, tell yourself you will remember your dreams.
  • Wake up naturally instead of to an alarm.
  • Keep a pen and paper near your bed and write down dream details as soon as you wake up.

If you still can’t remember your dreams, know that you’re getting healthy REM sleep if you feel well rested. 

By Laurie M. Stewart, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: American Sleep Association, www.sleepassociation.org; National Sleep Foundation, https://sleepfoundation.org

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2018 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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