By: Emily B

Some people think that dreams are just stories in your head, but there's more to it. Dreams help with problem solving and ideas. For example, Mozart got song ideas from his dreams. When your sleeping, not all the parts of your brain are resting, there are some still at work making those dreams possible.

What it Does for you

Why DO we dream, what IS the purpose? Here are theories about what dreaming does for yourself. One theory is, dreaming lets the brain organize itself and go through that day's events. The people of Senoi, Malaysia say dreams tell warnings. If you are wondering why there are only theories, it’s because there is no real answer. Ancient India believed it showed them where they'd go when died. Another theory is dreaming is a form of exercise for developing your brain. Other people say they give warnings and that dreaming is the right brain talking to itself.

Behind the Scenes

When you’re sleeping, some of your brain is up still working, but not all parts are. Your visual cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and your reticular formation are still at work helping you sleep and dream. Those brain parts are very important because they make our dreams happen. Our brain parts that make things make sense are not working and in REM sleep you can have the wildest of dreams. If you don’t experience REM sleep, it may cause you to have hallucinations. REM sleep stands for rapid eye movement, it's a stage in sleeping where your dreams usually occur. Your eyes dart quickly back and forth while your eyes are closed. Eugene Aserinsky is the man who discovered REM sleep by watching the eyes of people sleeping. During this stage, your blood flow and heart rate rise and have sudden changes. For young babies and people with head injuries, REM sleep occurs more for them because of the brain development and repair that's going on.

The Stages

There are stages that lead up to dreaming. The first part of sleeping is when you're wide awake and you're not feeling tired or sleepy. The second one is drowsiness, which it lasts 10 to 30 minutes. The second stage, is where you doze off but get woken up from hypnotic jerks. The next stage is light sleep, it's mostly half of your sleep time and your heart rate slows and body temperature drops. The next stage is deep sleep which happens about 25% of your sleep and also called delta sleep because you have slower brain waves. The fifth stage is deepest sleep. It is important if your awake too long and sleep which brain recovery thought is happening. Last but not least is REM sleep, it happens about 90 minutes into your sleep cycle. Vivid dreaming happens and your brain is really active, and your body is paralyzed.

Quick Facts

  • Lucid dreamers can scare away a nightmare. Lucid dreaming is when your frontal lobe “turns on” but the block in the signals continues. It results in dreaming in a normal and logic state of mind.
  • 40% of dreams are about strangers
  • We dream in color but remember in black and white.
  • Mostly 1/3 of dreams take place in houses and 1/4 in moving vehicles.
  • An average person has about 300,000 dreams in a lifetime which adds up to 20 years of your life sleeping.


Do you know about the scary, sad, or horrific dreams you sometimes have? Here are some facts you might want to know about these nightmares. The word nightmare comes from the Old English word “mare’, that means demon. Some people thought bad dreams were caused by evil spirits. You usually get the scariest dreams at the ages 3 to 4 years old. Nightmares usually happen in the second half of your sleep when there's more REM sleep. The reason you remember nightmares because they're so scary it wakes you up.

Man with an Idea

Q: What do dreams mean? Why do we have them?

A:(Sigmund Freud) Dreams are things in the unconscious. Even in sleep it can't be expressed freely, so they're represented in symbols.

In 1900, Sigmund Freud (a German doctor), wrote the book “The Interpretations of Dreams”. He was the first person to say that dreams may have a different meaning. Freud thought analyzing dreams could help recognize emotions and feelings. Symbols and elements in dreams can help explain a possible meaning of something. Two symbols such as flying, which means feeling confident, and falling, means you're maybe worrying

about failing. These symbols might not be true for everybody.

In conclusion, dreaming has more to it than what people think. The answer to why do we dream is difficult because there is no true right answer yet. But an understandable idea is dreaming helps your brain sort and organize memories. Dreaming is something everyone does, so learning about it helps you know what's happening while you dream.

Works Cited

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Carter, Rita, Susan Aldridge, Martyn Page, Steve Parker, Christopher D. Frith, Uta Frith, and Melanie B. Shulman. The Human Brain Book. London: DK Pub., 2009. Print. Citation 3

Funston, Sylvia, Gary Clement, Jay Ingram, and Sylvia Funston. It's All in Your Head: A Guide to Your Brillant Brain. Toronto: Maple Tree, 2005. Print. Citation 9

Kluger, Jeffrey. Your Brain: A User's Guide. New York, NY: Time, 2009. Print. Citation 4

Maurer, Tracy. The Brain. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke, 1999. Print. Citation 5

Newquist, H. P., Keith Kasnot, and Eric Brace. The Great Brain Book: An inside Look at the inside of Your Head. New York: Scholastic Reference, 2004. Print. Citation 2

Rosen, Marvin. Sleep and Dreaming. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2006. Print. Citation 6

Turkington, Carol. The Brain Encyclopedia. New York: Facts on File, 1996. Print. Citation 7

"Understanding Your Brain (Usborne Science for Beginners) Paperback – March, 1996." Understanding Your Brain (Usborne Science for Beginners): Rebecca Treays, Christyan Fox: 9780746020142: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. Citation 6

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