In Your Dreams
The REM Sleep PhasePeople spend about 20 percent of their sleeping hours in REM sleep. During a full night's sleep, we may dream for more than 2 hours. We also experience their most vivid dreams during REM. During the non-REM stages of sleep, dreams can occur. But they are recalled as brief, fragmented scenes or ideas as opposed to the longer, detailed stories that we recall from some REM-stage dreams. READ MORE
When we enter REM sleep, breathing becomes rapid, irregular, and shallow. The phase is named after the way our eyes dart around in different directions. The pons, part of the brain, sends signals that shut off spinal cord neurons causing the limbs to become temporarily paralyzed. This is essential. Dreamers who have REM sleep behavior disorder do not experience this paralysis. They can move, stand, and physically act out what they are dreaming about. It is dangerous. Someone dreaming about running a race might actually try to do it, inside his or her bedroom.
Although theories abound, scientists do not know exactly why we dream. Only after 1953, when researchers first described REM in sleeping infants, did researchers begin to carefully study sleep and dreaming. LESS
What Does It Mean?READ MORE
Sigmund Freud, the renowned psychologist, believed we dreamed as a "safety valve" for unconscious desires. Freud wrote that dreams help us sort out our subconscious ideas. He created guidelines assigning meanings to certain symbols and images common in dreams. However many sleep scientists now say dreams result when the brain works to process and store information taken in during our conscious hours. Their investigations continue. LESS