Why are dreams hard to remember?

You wake up from a thrilling dream, and remember only parts of it pretty vividly. But when the day passes by, you can not seem to remember it anymore. Five minutes after waking up from a dream, you forget fifty percent of your dream. Ten minutes later, you forget ninety percent of it. Whether you remember your dreams or not, you dream everyday. This question is, why is it so hard to remember our dreams?

brain

To start, your memories are made in the hippocampus part of your brain. Your memories are stored in the outer layer of the brain called the neocortex. The more you are required to remember things, the bigger your hippocampus is (“Medical Discovery”). For memories to be stored in the neocortex, there has to be a connection between the neurons in the hippocampus and the neocortex. Not only that, but “the timing of the firing of the neurons in these two locations also has to be coordinated and precise” (“Medical Discovery”). To test this theory, a research team led by Athanassios Siapas experimented on rats to further examine if the memories made in the hippocampus were being sent and stored in the neocortex. By using high-tech recording and computational techniques to listen in on the firing of neurons in the brains of rats, they found the number of neuron pairs that fire in a synchronized pattern. Then, they tuned in a listened to what went on in the rats brain. According to Science Daily, the search team heard “bursts of neuronal chatter during sleep–but only during a phase of sleep known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), the deep, dreamless periods of sleep” (“Why Dreams”).  When an organism enters the slow-wave sleep, many cells in the hippocampus fire at the same time. Instantly, the cells in the cortex will fire at almost the same time. However, when your body enters the rapid-eye movement stage, the cells will no longer burst at the same time. The only time you can remember your dream is when the neurons in the hippocampus and cortex fire at a relatively same time.

Remeber

Now that you know how and where dreams are stored,  here are some ways to increase your ability to remember your thrilling dreams.

  1. Right before you go to bed, tell yourself that you will remember your dreams.
  2. Keep a dream journal by your bed. When you wake up, record as much as you can about your dreams.
  3. Set your alarm to go off every hour and a half. This wakes you up when you leave the REM period.
  4. Gradually wake up to remain in the mood of you your last dream.

(“How Dreams Work”)

dream

Works Cited

“:: Medical Discovery News ::.” :: Medical Discovery News ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Obringer, Lee Ann. “How Dreams Work.” HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com, n.d.Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

“Why Dreams Are So Difficult To Remember: Precise Communication Discovered Across Brain Areas During Sleep.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

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Do Animals Dream?

Dog

Have you ever seen your dog or cat make sudden movements or sounds while sleeping? You are probably wondering if they were dreaming or just moving around while sleeping. Amazingly, most animals do dream. It is proven by scientists that many animals dream because they have brain activity similar to ours while they sleep, and they physically react to certain stages of sleep. This blog post will go over and answer questions you have about animals dreaming.

The first reason it is proven that animals dream is because they have the same brain activity as humans when they sleep. In the article, “Do animals dream?,” scientist Marc Bekoff gives us very useful information. Like humans, animals ¨share the same neural structures that are important in sleeping and dreaming¨ (Bekoff). When most land mammals sleep, they go through a REM, or Rapid Eye Movement stage. This is where all dreams occur. So if our brain activity is so similar, why can’t animals dream too? It is easy for humans to determine if we dreamed, but since we can not communicate with animals, they can’t tell us. To further examine this question, MIT researchers Daniel Bedore and Matt Wilson conducted an experiment on rats to see what kind of brain activity they have while in the REM stage. First, they placed the rats on a track and recorded their movement and brain activity while they moved towards a snack. Then, when the rats fell asleep, they recorded their brain activity while in the REM stage. To their surprise, they noticed that the brain patterns in the animals sleep matched those of their waking brain. This showed scientists that not only did the rats dream, but they had a dream identical to what they were doing in their waking hours(Watt). This mentally proves that animals dream. However, if you don’t have scientific gadgets, you can still look at their physical appearance to determine if they are dreaming.

dog2

Like humans, animals move while they sleep. This shows that they probably are dreaming as well. If you want to see if your pet is dreaming, take a closer look. For the first twenty minutes or so, the animals breathing patterns should be fairly regular. After that, your pet should start breathing deeper and more irregular. This is when they start the REM stage and begin to dream. The time it takes to start dreaming depends on the size of the animal. The smaller it is, the quicker it happens. You can also start to see muscle twitching and rapid eye movement behind their eyelids, hence the name of the stage. When animals and even humans eyes are moving around while sleeping, they are actually viewing their dream world (Tudor). Scientists did not stop there however. They continued their observations and found out some interesting information. According to the article “What do Animals Dream About,” French scientists Michel Jouvet and J K Delorme removed a part of a cat’s brain stem called the pons. This prevented the cat from being paralysed while dreaming in REM. Now, instead of being paralysed while dreaming, “ the cat walked around and behaved aggressively. This hinted they were dreaming of activities from their waking hours”(Goldman). If we were not usually paralyzed during our sleep, we would be moving just like we do in our waking life.

cat

The information proves that animals do indeed dream. We can mentally and physically tell. Scientists from around the world experimented on a wide variety of animals, and all the tests prove that animals dream.

 

Works Cited:

Bekoff, Marc. “Do Animals Dream? Science Shows Of Course They Do, Rats Too.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Goldman, Jason G. “What Do Animals Dream About?” BBC Future. BBC, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Tudor, Ken, Dr. “PetMD.” Do Animals Dream. PetMD, 18 July 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Watt, Alex. “Do Animals Dream?” Mental Floss. Mental Floss, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

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Ever heard of lucid dreaming? Have you ever wanted to try it? A lucid dream is any dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming. Once you realize you are in a dream, you can often control and manipulate them. It is difficult to do, and the process can be daunting. That being said, there has been a debate whether lucid dreaming is dangerous for the human body or not. After doing some research, I discovered that lucid dreaming is not dangerous, because there is no proof of any illnesses caused by lucid dreaming, and also improves people’s problem-solving and emotional skills.

The first reason why lucid dreaming isn’t dangerous for humans is because there has been no illnesses tied to lucid dreaming. Those who do lucid dream, and have an illness, got the illness from another cause. In the article, “ Is Lucid dreaming Dangerous?,” by Ryan Hurd, it talks about the misconception many people have about lucid dreaming. Many people think that lucid dreaming causes the disease schizophrenia; a brain disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Ryan states that, “Even today, psychiatrists still misdiagnose lucid hypnagogia and sleep paralysis as early symptoms of schizophrenia, despite the fact that these states frequently occur in normal, healthy adults with no trace of illness”(Hurd). That being said, people who lucid dream, or want to try lucid dreaming, do not have to worry about any illnesses. So what if you do have an illness, and lucid dream? It actually isn’t the lucid dream that causes you to have the illness. In fact, it is the illness that is causing you to lucid dream. Ryan Hurd’s other popular article, “Lucid Dreaming and Mental Illnesses,” explains what connects illnesses and lucid dreaming. The connection between the two is that “people who suffer with mental illness often also have arousal disorders, which can increase the likelihood of hallucinations at sleep onset, and may increase the chance to have a lucid dream due to increased awakenings throughout the night” (Hurd). But, millions of humans who are healthy also have lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming can also benefit you outside of sleep.

The second reason why Lucid dreaming is not dangerous is because scientists found out that lucid dreaming actually helps with problem solving and gives you other advantages in life. Evidence from the article, “Do you know when you’re dreaming?,” by Sarah Griffiths, provides information to prove that lucid dreamers are better at solving problems. She says that, “It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognize that they are dreaming. The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated while awake by a person’s ability to think in a different way when it comes to solving problems” (Griffiths). Also, scientists conducted an experiment, where they tested a wide range of college students who have never lucid dreamed, and who do it multiple times a month. The results showed that the lucid dreamers scored twenty-five percent better than those who have not lucid dreamed. Lucid dreaming also helps control your fears. You may think having lucid nightmares would be so much more frightening. It is surprising to hear that it actually makes you more courageous and is less frightening. In a Lucid Dreaming FAQ by lucidity.com, it states that, “The simple state of lucidity is frequently enough to elevate the mood of a dreamer in a nightmare. In a study of the effect of lucid dreams on mood, college students reported that realizing they were dreaming in a nightmare helped them feel better about 60 percent of the time.” Not only that, but lucidity “ is seven times more likely to make nightmares better than worse” (lucidity.com). Do not be afraid to try out lucid dreaming. Encountering a nightmare will be less frightening.

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Some might argue that lucid dreaming causes sleep deprivation to those who experience it.This is false however, because people who are sleep deprived actually get more lucid dreams, and we also control our dreams all the time. Those who are sleep deprived from work, or taking care of young children with almost always experience lucid dreams. Because you body is getting little sleep, the brain is working extra hard to finish its tasks. This makes your dreams more vivid and clear, which can lead to lucid dreams. Sleep Deprived people say they tend to dream multiple short lucid dreams, versus just one long dream. The article, “Sleep Deprivation: From Insomnia to World Records,” By Rebecca Turner, exclaims that “sufferers of insomnia are more likely to have lucid dreams. Perhaps this is because the normal sleep cycles  are thrown out of balance and conscious dreams are more easily triggered” (Turner). Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It is actually the opposite of the theory. People who are sleep deprived get lucid dreams as a side effect. Not only that, but we actually always control our dreams, and we do not waste any more energy on lucid dreams than we do in regular dreams. An article from Snoozon confirms this theory: “We control our dreams all the time, no matter whether we are lucid or not. In this way, lucid dreaming doesn’t make you wake up more tired because we control our dreams as much as do as when we’re not lucid” (Snoozon). Altogether, the theory that lucid dreaming causes sleep deprivation has been proved wrong.

If lucid dreaming sounds fun to you, and is something you want to try, do not be afraid. Many people think that lucid dreaming is unhealthy. This isn’t true, because it does not tie to any illnesses and actually improve your problem solving and help with your fears. Some people claim that lucid dreaming causes sleep deprivation. This isn’t correct, because lucid dreaming take the same amount of energy as regular dreaming and is actually the side effect of loss of sleep. If you are interested in lucid dreaming, you should  really think about trying to lucid dream. The results are great, and many people recommend to try this wonderful experience.

Works Cited

Hurd, Ryan. “Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?” Dream Studies Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Hurd, Ryan. “Lucid Dreaming and Mental Illness.” Reality Sandwich. N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Feb.2015.

“Lucid Dreaming FAQ.” Lucid Dreaming Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Lucidity Institute. Lucidity.com, 1994. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.

“Lucid Dreaming.” Lucid Dreaming Explained. Snoozon, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Sarah Griffiths. “Do You Know When You’re Dreaming? Then You’re Probably Good at Solving Problems: Lucid Dreamers ‘have Extra Levels of Insight’, Scientists Claim .” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 14 Aug. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

Turner, Rebecca. “Sleep Deprivation: From Insomnia to World Records.”Sleep Deprivation: From Insomnia to World Records. Rebecca Turner & World of Lucid Dreaming, 2008. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

What do dreams mean?

Another common question asked by people is “What do dreams mean?” As always, there are many theories on what dreams mean, some scientific, and others abstract. Scientists to this day are unsure of what they mean. Dreams can be just normal things you see or do in your regular life. But sometimes, dreams involve very wild and random thoughts. A professional dream worker Suzanne Bergamm, who has been working for more than 16 years, has researched and found the 13 most common topics remembered and dreamed. She says, “There’s no single, definitive meaning for symbols and images in dreams, But just as a smile usually means that someone is happy, these dream images are so common, that they do have a generally accepted meaning”(Bergamm). The common images seen are: being chased, school, paralysis, flying, falling, and nudity. I will be explaining what each of these topics mean if you dream about them.

The first common topic is being chased. Being chased lets off a anxiety that has the same, vivid feeling we do in real life, making it easier to remember it. The reason we dream about being chased isn’t because we fear of being chased, it’s what’s chasing us we fear. Usually the thing we fear is what is chasing us. These dreams tell us that we need to give attention to something in our real world that is needing our attention.

being chased

Another popular topic is being at school. You could be taking a test, or forgot you had one. Dreams like this teach us a lesson that we are supposed to learn from. As a post by Dreams Cloud said, “This is a great example of a “dream pun” — the mind using a word or concept and giving it a different definition” (DreamsCloud). These kind of dreams mean that we are facing a task we aren’t prepared for. Just like being chased, it can also mean that you aren’t giving something the attention it needs.

being in school

Also, flying is commonly done in dreams. The meaning of flying actually depends on how you fly. If you fly low to the ground or poorly is means that you feel like you have little control in your life, and feel like you cannot achieve a goal in life, sometimes because someone may be holding you back. You could also be stuck in a power line or having trouble staying in flight, which represents the obstacles that are too difficult to overcome. On the other hand, flying high means the opposite. You have much control in your life and can be capable of achieving any goal in life. It is common to dream of flying while lucid dreaming.

flying

Another thing that occurs on many peoples dreams would be falling. It could be falling from a high cliff or even just a set of stairs. Most falling symbolizes your anxiety and unsure feeling. It also means that something in life is out of control and you can’t do anything about it. Rarely, some dreamers fall in slow motion. This has a different meaning that indicates you letting go of something. Stephen Klein, from Dream Cloud, says that falling in your dream occurs when you are “falling asleep.” He explains that as we fall asleep our heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure begin to drop. All these factor may lead our bodies to feeling like we are in a free fall, making us dream of falling (Klein). it is usual to us that we wake up right before falling, but myths say that if you experience hitting the ground, your body would die. Fortunately for us, this myth is false.

falling

The final occurrence in dreams I will be explaining is nudity, or being naked. Being naked in a dream means that we are trying to hide something from someone, but having difficulty doing so . It also means that we aren’t prepared for something, but others notice. Sometimes we are naked, but no one seems to notice. According to Lee Ann Obringer in, “How Dreams Work,” she claims that, “If we’re naked but no one notices, then the interpretation is that whatever we’re afraid of is unfounded” (Obringer). But, sometimes we feel comfortable being naked and don’t seem to mind. She also states that, “If we don’t care that we’re naked, the interpretation is that we’re comfortable with who we are” (Obringer).  Being aware of what body part being exposed helps scientists find the different emotions it can cause in our dreams.

nudity

As you can see, there are meanings for about every situation that occurs in even the strangest dreams. Scientists have also discovered how the meaning of dreams actually connect with the dreamer. Knowing and remembering yours dreams can be important, because the information that comes out of it can mean a lot. Researcher G. William Domhoff says, “Meaning’ has to do with coherence and with systematic relations to other variables, and in that regard dreams do have meaning. Furthermore, they are very “revealing” of what is on our minds. We have shown that 75 to 100 dreams from a person give us a very good psychological portrait of that individual. Give us 1000 dreams over a couple of decades and we can give you a profile of the person’s mind that is almost as individualized and accurate as her or his fingerprints” (Domhoff).

Even with so many scientists working in the field of dreams, they are still one of the biggest mysteries. There may or may not be a meaning to these strange, unexplainable visions we call dreams.

 

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. “What Do Your Dreams Really Mean?” About. About.com, 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

Domhoff, G.W. “The ‘purpose’ of dreaming.”dreamresearch.net. (n.d.) Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

DreamsCloud. “14 Common Dreams and Symbols and Why They’re Important.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

Klein, Stephen. “Falling Dreams.” Dream Stop. DreamStop, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

Obringer, Lee Ann. “How Dreams Work.” How Stuff Works. HowStuffWorks.com. 27 January 2005. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

How/why are we able to dream?

A highly asked question, that is also the most common question asked about dreaming is, “how and why do we dream?” That question is still a mystery till this day, but scientists have several ideas on how our brains think at night and why our brains make dreams.

There are several theories on how we dream. Dreams are just pieces of verbal, visual, and emotional stimuli that make a story, but not exactly make sense. Early scientists actually thought dreams were real, but you can only reach them in the state of dreaming. Later, scientists like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud created two main categories in which the different theories about dreams lie. The first group is the idea that dreams are only psychological stimulations. The second is the idea that dreams are psychologically necessary. Although those theories are common and still around, many researchers still come up with other reasons on how we dream. The most commonly accepted from psychologists would be that dreams are random brain impulses that take from memories. The article, “Theories of Dreams,” by Lee Ann Obringer,  talks about two researchers, Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley who created another theory on how dreams are made. They said dreams are “simply the result of random electrical brain impulses that [pull] imagery from traces of experience [that is] stored in the memory”(Obringer). They suggest that dreams are just images from your brain’s memory stored away from your past life, and scattered in no order. Priyamvada Gupta wrote, “How Things Work:Dreams,” and also said, “Once the person awakens, the brain takes these scattered images and forms stories to make sense out of them” (Gupta).

 

Also, there are a few thoughts on reasons of why we dream. Some say dreams help release stress from your busy day. When you are asleep, your brain organizes your thoughts, and they are made into dreams. An article, written by the School of Metaphysics says, “If this were true, then more people (especially those who are stressed-out) would remember their dreams“(School of Metaphysics). So, the more your brain is overloaded on work, then the more stress is needed to be released. With that, your brain produces more dreams that are more likely to be remembered.  Many people also say dreams are the communication between you and your subconscious self. Your subconscious mind is very important, because it holds all of your understandings in your lifetime. Dreams tell us about our present state of awareness and shares its knowledge and wisdom to our outer self.  Another common theory, thought of by Rosalind Cartwright, is that dreams are a way of incorporating memories, solving problems, and dealing with emotions. With this, Cartwright says, “In this way, dreams are essential for our emotional health”(Cartwright). Others, like Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung focus on more abstract theories. Freud suggests that dreams are things we can’t say or do in real life. On the other hand, an article called “How do we Dream,” by Constance Kaita, explains Jung’s thoughts; “dreams were actually similar to thoughts we have while awake, but are our brain’s way of thinking through problems or troublesome issues while we are asleep and undistracted” (Kaita).Most reasons are logical, however a small amount of people think that dreams are meaningless, and are just a by-product during our sleep.

The real reason on why and how we dream have not been found yet, but many people have thought of many different theories .They all can be possible, but only one can be true. All we can do until we find out is relax and enjoy the little, random, and unreal stories our brain has come up with.

Works Cited

Gupta, Priyamvada. “How Things Work: Dreams.” TheTartan.org. 21 April 2008. Web. 02 Nov.

2014.

“In Your Dreams.” Dreams: Why Do We Dream 3. National Sleep Foundation, 2014. Web. 02

Nov. 2014.

Kaita, Constance.”How Do We Dream?” WhySci.com. Why-Sci, 2014. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

Obringer, Lee Ann. “How Dreams Work.” HowStuffWorks.com. 27 January 2005. Web. 02 Nov.

2014.

“Why Do We Dream.” School of Metaphysics. School of Metaphysics, 2002. Web. 02

Nov. 2014.

Introductory Post: What is this Blog About?

This blog is for all the curious sleepers who wonder; what are dreams? I will be answering the following top 10 most asked questions about dreams:

  1. How/ why are we able to dream?
  2. Does everyone dream? Blind people?
  3. What do dreams mean?
  4. How does our mind think of our dreams?
  5. How long do our dreams last?
  6. Why is it hard to remember our dreams?
  7. Why do we only dream in our sleep?
  8. How do you Lucid Dream? How does it work?
  9. Does food connects with our dreams in any way?
  10. Why can’t we remember our dreams?

Every month I will be posting a blog that throughly explains and answers the questions above. Dreams are a huge part of our lifes and we should be able to know what they are. Some questions are still being answered because dreams are probably the most mysterious wonders in the world. Follow my blog to stay tuned.