We all dream every night.
Dreams are a normal part of sleep. Most dreams occur and are the most vivid when we are in REM sleep. REM sleep generally first happens about 90 minutes after falling asleep and each REM stage can last up to an hour. The average adult having five to six REM cycles each night.
During the day when awake our thoughts, ideas and actions are based on logic. When we are asleep and dreaming the logical region of our brain shuts down and our dreams are driven by the emotional side of our brain, with about two thirds of our dreams occurring in pictures.
“During REM sleep many of our muscles relax completely and this prevents us acting out our dreams. If this system doesn’t work properly, we may try to act out our dreams, especially if the dreams involve strong emotions.” – Sleep Health Foundation
If you are in a positive mind set and have a good day, you are more likely to have a good dream. If you are depressed or anxious this may compromise your sleep quality and contribute to bad dreams.
Nightmares are vivid scary dreams. They tend to wake you up. They may often also stop you going back to sleep.
For children they are often thought of as part of growing up but they can also be set off by things such as a stressful event in life, trauma, medications, substance abuse or a mental or physical illness.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia
“10% to 50% of children have them. The number of adults who have nightmares is much less, from 2.5% to 10%”
If you are experiencing vivid scary dreams or nightmares regularly you may not be getting enough sleep at night or wake up feeling tired and stressed. If this is occurring regularly counselling may help.
Commonly it is thought that dreaming allows us to analyse and consolidate memories, skills and habits. Assisting us in our ability to respond to situations in our daily lives.
Other beliefs include dream’s acting as a creative muse, inspiring and facilitating our creativity. As a therapist, helping connect our feelings in such a way that we would not while awake. Or as a way of helping us deal with a threat or problem.
“One of the areas of the brain that’s most active during dreaming is the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with the survival instinct and the fight-or-flight response.” healthline.com
Although there is still a lot to be learnt about their cause and function, they are part of our regular sleep cycle which is vitally important for our everyday health and well being.
Sleep Well, Live Well