Why We Dream During Sleep

Most people have had a dream at one time or another. A dream can be described as a stream of images often paired with feelings, sounds, and emotions that occur when we sleep. 

Although visual imagery occurs most frequently in dreams, dreams can also include the other senses. For instance, a person may dream that they are running, but they can't see where they are going. Visually impaired people have dreams focused more on sounds, tastes, and smells. 

Dreams are commonplace, which has led to the question, "why do we dream?"

This question is one that scientists have yet to conclusively answer. 

Some possible reasons include: 

Increased brain activity during REM sleep….

Dreams can happen during any stage of sleep but occur most frequently during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly under the lids but do not send visual information to the brain. Additionally, the breathing rate increases, the muscles go tense, and the heart rate increases. 

Dreams during REM sleep have been linked to increased brain activity during REM sleep compared to other stages of sleep.  Some theorists say that dreams occur when memories move from the hippocampus, the part of the brain where memories are stored, to another part of the brain called the neocortex during REM sleep. Others say that dreams occur as incidental brain activity serving no purpose. 

Another view looks at dreams as the brain's way of cleaning up. This viewpoint holds that we dream when the brain clears away unnecessary, wrong, or partial information.

Dreams play a role in memory

Another common dream theory is that dreams serve as memory aids. Research has shown that information learned right before sleeping is recalled more easily because the brain can block out interference and focus on the information.

It is proposed that dreams allow memory to be combined, strengthened, and stored more efficiently. 

Dreams help us process emotions

Emotions are an essential part of our daily lives. People, events, finances, and more all stir up different emotions within us daily. Some of these emotions we can attend to instantly, but others we may have to repress. So, dreams may provide a way to engage with these emotions and relieve them. Sometimes, the brain may make connections between events and emotions that our conscious selves might not notice. 

Health states and conditions 

Different physiological states and health conditions can affect how often you dream. If you have been sleep-deprived for several nights, research has shown that you have an increased tendency to have vivid dreams and remember them. 

Pregnant women also have more intense, vivid dreams than other people. One reason for this is the increases in hormones that may affect how the brain processes emotions and thoughts. 

Some mental health disorders, such as bipolar   disorder, anxiety, and depression, may result in intense dreams that may be sad, disturbing, or even nightmares. Certain medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, can also increase the risk of nightmares. 


The exact reason we dream is still unknown. There are different theories about it that scientists are still sorting through. Meanwhile, CUTICA Health wishes you a restful sleep.


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