Linking Dreams and Health

We love dreaming for varied reasons – it enables us to travel to places we’ve never seen before, fantasize about things we can’t do in real life, or even solve problems we couldn’t find a solution for. Sometimes, dreams give us clear answers. These are the kinds of dreams that provide vivid illustrations and are easy to understand. There are times, however, when dreams are vague and symbolic, and often we don’t remember a large part of what we’ve just dreamed about.

Dreams take place during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, although it can also sometimes occur during non-REM sleep. While some experts believe that it is simply a byproduct of sleep, others think that this is a vital component of internal conflict resolution, mood regulation, and memory consolidation. It does well for the memory because REM sleep aids in the production of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are stored and facilitated.

There are many fascinating things about dreams. But what most of us do not know is that this part of sleep can actually be associated with one’s health. Many experts believe that dreaming is a person’s means of coping with life’s major stressors. It’s common to experience dreaming about a certain thing that we’re obsessing or stressing over with.

For example, a woman who is about to get married would dream about her wedding many times before the actual big day. That’s because her feelings and emotions about the event are reactivated during her sleep. When a person dreams about his/her stressor, he/she is more likely to feel stressed about it the next day. In that sense, dreaming can be beneficial in terms of lowering down a person’s stress levels, and helping to avoid certain forms of stress-related diseases.

Sleep, as we all know, is vital to human function. The National Sleep Foundation stated that humans spend about two hours or more each night dreaming. Most of the vivid dreams happen when we transcend to REM stage of sleep. When we suffer from sleep deprivation, we will not be able to go to REM sleep, and thus suffer from poor memory. It’s not just sleep that enables us to function well in the society but a good quality sleep that reaches the REM stage.

Dreaming is also said to be beneficial for people suffering from depression. Studies have been done on recently-divorced women suffering from clinical depression. Women who are able to dream about the things that involve the divorce and remember their dreams were able to cope with the divorce and recover from the depression more easily than women who do not dream or who can’t remember their dreams.

In brief, although dreams won’t always solve your problems or conflict, they can help by making a person see things from a different perspective; it can also aid in memory building, mood regulation, and alleviation of depression among many others.

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