Are your dreams telling you something?
Dreams are a collection of images and visuals that occur at some stages of sleep. They can often leave us flustered or lead us to wake up with a jolt. They can be pleasant and leave us smiling, sometimes scared, and even confused. But do dreams mean anything? Several studies have been done on the subject over the years. Let's take a look.
Why does it matter?
- The earliest studies into the meaning of dreams suggested a connection with a person's unfulfilled desires.
- Several subjects in a study believed that their dreams offered an insight into their unconscious beliefs.
- For some, their perception of their dreams held even more meaning than their real-life beliefs.
- A mishap witnessed in a dream is likely to make people act more carefully in real life.
Freud's theory of unfulfilled desires
Sigmund Freud's theory suggests that dreams are a manifestation of a person's buried desires and thoughts. He described them as "disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes." While later studies brushed aside Freud's theory, his conclusions are what made dream interpretation popular. Researchers have failed to prove that dreams have any meaning. Nevertheless, This hasn't lessened the curiosity around the subject.
Threat simulation theory
The Threat simulation theory believes that dreams are a kind of defense mechanism. Dreams let people experience threatening events and fight them off. Fending off threats in dreams makes people feel safer in reality. A study including children who had faced trauma and those who hadn't revealed that the former group of kids had higher dream activity involving threatening actions.
Activation synthesis theory
The activation-synthesis theory suggests that dreams are basically a collection of random thoughts and images that are projected through sleep. The theory believes that dreams are caused by psychological processes in our brain and the images that appear in our dreams do not follow any narrative structure. Therefore, certain dreams might feel weird as when you combine these random images, it makes no sense.
Dreams can act as an outlet for emotions
Dreams might also be an outlet for unwanted or uncomfortable emotions. The emotional regulation dream theory believes that sleep offers a safe space for our emotions, such as anxiety, which are released in the form of dreams. It is during the REM stage of sleep that our brain processes emotions. This is one of the reasons why REM sleep is considered important.