Mysterious Dreams

Everyone has some interesting experience with dreams since we spent one-third of our lives sleeping. Some are scary, some gives you warmth, while some even inspires the dreamer about future goals or career. For me, I rarely have nightmares or inspirational dreams, most of them are simply non-sense like imaginary star wars with the people I recently encountered. Once, I had a dream about two of my friends who I know for sure that they do not know each other, and we hang out near my high school in New Jersey. But why? Interestingly, a significant amount of elements in our dreams are randomly distributed by our brains, meaning that most of weird dreams are comprised of familiar people, scenes or actions. To explain complicated questions regarding my dreams, we need to understand basic biological informations about dreams. 

A picture of a “television-man” sleeping from Creative Commons

Dreams are a patterns of sensory information that appears when our brain is asleep. Most researches assume that dreams only occur during REM sleep (rapid eye movement). In a REM sleep, the person would have rapid eye movement, low muscle tone across the body, and a propensity to dream vividly. So, what are the main causes of different types of dreams? For sleep terrors, it often occurs during non-REM sleeps; while for recurring dreams, it is a common result of psychological distress. Moreover, for the dreams that the dreamer are aware of dreaming, researchers linked an unusually elevated levels of brain activity. Compare to non-lucid dreams, there is a significantly higher frequency waves within lucid dreamers’ frontal lobe where the area is deeply involved with ego, conciseness and memories. According to research, dreamers would most oftenly recognize familiar characters or events. A study found that more than half of the dream characters was recognizable to dreamers, and the other 35 percent of them were identifiable according to the dreamer’s social role or relationship.

A personal photo I took a month ago. The story was I thought I dreamed about this exact scene but i have never been here before

A recent research disclosed that dream might play a critical role into the consolidation of memories. Since the discovery of REM sleeps in 1950s, many biological researches investigated the benefits of REM sleeps and dreams. For instance, not only does REM sleep helps hormone regulation, clearing waste from our brains, and boost immune systems, it created an interesting new field of research into dream formation. In the article by Michelle Frazer and Gina Poe, it shed light on to dream’s role on memory processing. Why are dreams most oftenly narrative? The answer lies with the previously discussed memory compiling. Narrative dreams that elicit strong emotions, they argue, may inform the brain about the association’s potential utility, which may in turn lead to a strengthening of that association between different memories. 

Overall, why do dreams matter? Dream is an important part of our daily life. The process into explaining contents of our dream with science is still developing rapidly. Have you every had some moments that you thought you have dreamed of it before? Or received guidance from passed away family members? Many of those questions are still mysterious, but with the development of neuroscience and biological research equipments, we can answer those question in the near future.


Breus MJ. Why We Dream What We Dream. 2015 Jan 20 [accessed 2021 May 3].

“Sleeping TV Man” by Photo Extremist is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Frazer Michelle and Poe Gina. Dream interpretation meets modern science. Science, Vol. 371 No. 6530 683. 2021 Feb 12.

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