Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => Topic started by: cuso4 on 08/05/2003 11:49:50

Title: What are dreams ?
Post by: cuso4 on 08/05/2003 11:49:50
What is dream? And why do people dream?
I don't think it's something the brain just make up because it's bored when you're asleep, or is it?
I'd like to get some scientific explanation! If anyone can answer this it'll be great.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Donnah on 08/05/2003 23:08:22
Hi Angel,

When we first fall asleep, we go through about 90 minutes of nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which consists of four stages.  

In stage one muscles relax, breathing slows and body temperature and blood pressure decrease a bit.  

In stage two we go deeper into sleep, and this is when talking and sleepwalking happen.

In stage three heart rate and breathing slow down more, body temperature continues to drop, and electrical activity surges in the brain.

In stage four all body functions slow down and an EEG shows large, slow brain waves.

Our bodies then go back to stage three, stage two, and instead of going back to stage one again, we enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep is when most dreams occur.  The brain's electrical activity is similar to a waking state.  Heart rate and breathing increase, there's more oxygen going to our brains, body temperature rises, and there are signs of sexual arousal (even though that may not be what we are dreaming about).

Each time we cycle through, stages three and four become shorter, and REM becomes longer.  That probably explains why we find it easier to remember the dreams we have just before waking.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: cuso4 on 09/05/2003 07:58:27
Yeh!!! Somebody call me Angel and not "copper sulphate".

Donnah, thanks for the reply, really appreciate it. I learnt something new today.

PS what is EEG? you didn't explain.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Donnah on 09/05/2003 20:50:42
Hi Angel,
EEG is an acronym for electroencephalogram, which is a bunch of wires that are put on your head to measure electrical activity.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: cuso4 on 10/05/2003 08:32:50
Thanks Donnah!

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: pat on 10/05/2003 13:34:13
Can you also use the EEG to diagnose epilepsy and other brain disorders - I think I read somewhere that some disease (?Alzheimers) affect the EEG.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Donnah on 10/05/2003 23:57:38
Yes, it's used to diagnose epilepsy and incapacitating brain diseases.  Other than that, I don't know much about it.  

Anybody know if that's what is used to learn biofeedback?
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Exodus on 12/05/2003 11:34:29
Anyone on here get recurring dreams... mine involve tidal waves where i'm on a beach and all the water flows away then a huge wave rears on the horizon and me and someone else have to run to higher ground.


Had another dream a few weeks back where i was trying to sleep on a mattress thousands of feet up in the sky and it was rocking, i then fell off and drifted slowly down to earth landing in my garden. I then saw people in camo gear hiding at the end of the garden abd shouted at them, they ran off and then my best friend appeared on a motobike and i was chasing him around the garden... very vivid eh?

My latest awesome dream was that i caught a steam train from fenchurch st station to somewhere else in London... weird.

Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem...
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Quantumcat on 12/05/2003 12:29:39
I used to have a dream almost every night where I was on a flying carpet being chased by bats. I would wake up just as they were about to get me. I kind of enjoyed it so it wasn't a nightmare :p

Now I have a dream every once in a while where I'm trapped on a desert island, ships keep coming onto the horizon and I wave and yell at them hoping to be rescued, but then they drift away.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: cuso4 on 12/05/2003 13:35:54
Has anyone get the feeling of going up a stair and found out that you actually step into thin air and your body twitches then you realise it's actually a dream? Did anyone get what I'm saying? This might be a bit confusing.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: chris on 12/05/2003 14:43:22
The worst dreams are the ones in which you are trying to escape from something or someone but feel paralysed or really weak and only able to move very slowly, almost like wading through soup.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Exodus on 12/05/2003 16:38:40
I had one of those when i was about 6ish. I dreamt that there was a burglar in my room and i was trying to wake myself up and i couldnt and it really upset me... there was kinda horrid high pitched noise at the same time.

Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem...
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: nilmot on 12/05/2003 19:45:42
I dreamt of beign chase by people who are trying to kill me [:(!]and they push me over a cliff and you get those stomach in the butterfly feeling.It's horrible.

How does your brain make you feel like that? It's so real! (Althought I've never been pushed over a cliff before so I presume that it's real) Does it send impluses to the muscle near the organ to simulate the effect to match the dream you are in? [?]

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: cuso4 on 12/05/2003 20:57:05
When you are dreaming something like being chased by people trying to kill you(as Tom experienced), why do you sometimes sweat? And did you notice that if you woke up from one of these horrible, action-packed dreams, you often feel tired like after doing an exercise?

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Exodus on 12/05/2003 21:02:34
i cant answer that one... i always wake up feeling tired, not a morning person at all, I blame the coffee! [:(]

Resident Tour Operator - The Naked Scientists
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: NakedScientist on 12/05/2003 21:17:12
This one has got people going a bit, so I'm going to clear things up.

Dreaming is a state of near-wakefulness (as alluded to above) which coincides with the phase of sleep referred to as REM (rapid eye-movements).

When we dream parts of the brain are activated in the same way that they would be if you were experiencing your dream in real life. This is why people who have gone blind later in life can 'see' in their dreams.

Of course a potential hazard of this elevated brain activity is kicking your sleeping partner out of bed, or prancing around and injuring yourself. To prevent this, another region of the brain called the sub-coerulear region switches on when we sleep and suppresses movements, effectively paralysing us. Cats in which researchers have made small lesions in this part of the brain show exhaggerated movements when they dream including stalking imaginery prey. This may explain why in some dreams we feel paralysed or weak, although clearly the muscles that help us to breathe are not affected ! This is probably because the suppressive effects of the subcoerulear region are directed towards descending (voluntary) control, rather than automatic or 'reflex' movements. Some patients with Parkinson's disease claim that their tremor, which originates higher up in the motor system, goes away when they go to sleep.


Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Exodus on 12/05/2003 21:23:26
Is that why when we are pretty much about asleep, we'll jerk awake as though we'd been shaken or hit? Is that the paralysis kicking in?

Resident Tour Operator - The Naked Scientists
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Donnah on 14/05/2003 06:57:06
During stage one a phenomenon called hynagogia can cause hallucinations, creating sounds, images, body jerks, and the sensation of falling or being under water.  

During stage four, a similar experience is called hypnopompia, but it's really just your brain waking up before your body does.

If you don't feel rested in the morning, it's probably because you didn't get enough stage four sleep.

To analyse your dreams, pay attention to color, emotions, people and anything else that stands out to you.  Think about what certain things mean to you.  

Anyone do any flying in your dreams?
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: Quantumcat on 14/05/2003 10:30:11
That stepping out from a stair thing - sometimes when I'm asleep or half asleep, I kind of dream that I'm walking along then step into a hole of some sort, my body feels like it really has stepped in a hole, and a big jerk and a very strange feeling engulfs it - it is very strange.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: NakedScientist on 14/03/2004 05:42:12
You could check out Dan Gollub's series of articles about dream interpretation :
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: bezoar on 14/03/2004 14:46:56
I read somewhere that when your body jerks like that, it's when you're transitioning between light and deep sleep.  Demonstrable on the EEG as a change from Alpha to Delta waves, I think.  The paralysis, I was told, happens so you don't get up and sleep walk, or act out your dreams.  And it's not foolproof.  I do remember dreaming that I was chasing my two year old at the time, who was really cutting up, and I reached out to pop her on the thigh and hit my husband in the face.  He swore I did it on purpose, but I didn't realize it until after my hand made contact with his face, which awakened me.  Other times, I've spoken in my sleep and my voice awakened me.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: MissMontana on 15/03/2004 19:59:36
I used to have conversations with my ex-boyfriend when he was asleep all the time. My favourite was when he was trying to get me to go somewhere with him, he was very determined that we had to go as someone was in trouble, when I asked him where we had to go he said 'just follow Skippy' so I asked who Skippy was and he said 'Skippy the bush kangaroo' unfortunately the conversation eneded there as my laughing woke him up
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: NewBill on 15/08/2005 01:49:55
Recurring dreams based in an unremembered reality.

I had a couple of dreams that recurred all through my childhood well into my late teens and early 20's that as it turned out, were based on a real experiences.  One, the most dramatic was of being trapped in a checkerboard room at night.  The frightening part was that I could not escape because the way was blocked by a large tree trunk.  The other detail was that the stairwell was marked by a naked light bulb which I found stark and disturbing.

Upon hearing of this dream my mother told me of an incident in a severe storm in the 50's that swept through Southern Ontario.  A tree limb crashed through the bedroom of the cottage where we were living coming to rest between the beds that my brother and I were sleeping in.  It is supposed that the so called battle ship tile so popular at the time formed the checkerboard and being a cottage it was likely that the light bulbs were naked.  Even reminded I did not recall the storm but the dream ceased.

Another which was frustrating more than terrifying was being trapped in caves which opened in a number of places over the ocean.  A return to Glace Bay Nova Scotia in 72 was cause for me to revisit the infamous bootleg mines where people of the town, coal miners by occupation, had mined a coal vein close to the surface to the point of undermining a significant portion of the town.  According to a cousin, when I had a stay down there in my sixth year, we were in the habit of playing in them and exploring them.  When I saw them again I would not approach having by then developed a sensible fear of the danger.  The dream ceased however.

It is events like this that convince me that no matter how absurd or uncommon the facts of a dream, reality lies at it's roots.  It still strikes me as odd that the mind will construct metaphors so remote from reality rather than deal directly, especially when the dream ultimately seems to be not particularly traumatic.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: MissB on 18/08/2005 16:50:19
Recently I have had a lot of reoccuring dreams that revolve around unresolved issues with my mother. They are very antagonistic and I usually wake up crying and having feelings of abandonment. I guess at 40 my brain is telling me it's time for me to deal with the psychological traumas she inflicted on me. Purely unintentional on her part, but nevertheless some of the things that she said to me as a child were obviously significant to me and have left a lasting impression.

I have noticed since my trip back to my home town, that some of the dreams that I have had recently about the town, that I haven't seen in 5 years, have been accurate. Some changes in geography of the area etc. I also have dreams that "come true" which are really cool! but you don't know which are coming true until after they came true. I solve problems in my dreams, like training issues with my horses, or problems with clients at work or personal relationship struggles.

I also have dreams of deceased pets that come to visit, just to say Hi. All of my pets have come to visit the day after they passed. My mom's cat was in a dream before I knew that he had died. I also have a cat now, that when I dream and it's especially emotionally charged, like those about my mother, he is in the dream. He just pops in as if to ground me so that I can be still somehow in the present as well as in a dream. It's almost like he is my link to the "other world" kinda sorta. I know it sounds strange, but YOU started the topic on dreams!! LOL

I enjoy dreaming, even the hard ones that leave me crying or upset in some way. It's almost like watching a movie, or going on vacation!

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: memasa on 04/09/2005 10:07:47
Want to hear about my funniest dream. No! What the hell, I'll tell it anyway... This is a dream which had all the science-fiction clichés in it.

When the dream started I was inside a UFO, lying and supposedly being medically examined -- a red beam of light was scanning my body. At that point of the dream I was obviously quite scared, so the gray alien leaned over me and "said" that there is no need for me to worry about anything.
The next thing the aliens did was that they gave a me a tour around the universe. That was fun, but unfortunately I don't remember any details of what they were "saying".
Secondly they taught me English in front of a school desk that was at least 100 years old. That was also nice 'cause I like your language! :)
Thirdly the aliens took me into what I would call an incubation room, you know, lotsa transparent containers with humans inside. The alien who was with me started "talking" about a war they're involved in, showed me a brown planet from a paper map and "said" that this is the place. Then he "said" (you know, aliens don't speak, right?) they're making soldiers out of me (i.e. cloning me). The moment the alien mentioned about those soldiers I saw a mental image in my head, hundreds of clones, looking like me, marching in a desert.
Fourthly they introduced me to my half-alien family: two wives and two kids...
Fifthly they installed golden exo-skeleton legs on me ... which was also nice. (In real life I use walking sticks). So there I was walking around the ship.

Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: shodashi on 12/09/2005 12:27:39
Persons who have realized their souls and work on it by practicing meditation regularly for just half 45 minutes everyday can have sound sleep without getting any dreams. After that they can day dream but cannot dream in the night even if they want to. Sleep walkers also stop walking in the night and start behaving normally in a short period once they practice meditation.

Helping people to realize their souls/ spirits, meditate by teaching them meditation free of cost
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: hairie on 14/12/2005 17:08:14
Dream is just a part of our sleep. some sort of play in our sleep. and talk about dream... I never thought that I'm gonna dream that!! I think it was my worse dream ever..

My dream started with a guy standing in front of my house and he leaned against the wall really close to the front door. And me is there hiding behind the door and tell him to go away. My father glared to me as a signal to tell him to go away. And that guy lift his head and got my eyes. I still saying no to that guy. He is inviting me out for dinner and go dancing after that... I was shocked to find out that guy was my-my enemy...    

and I do tell my bestfriends about my dream and now, that dream become true.. and for that I laughed at myself because I have heard people said that is we tell other people about our dream, and it can come true.. I never believed to that but now I really believe it!
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: ROBERT on 21/12/2005 15:06:27
I often dream I am being attacked by dogs, however this is explainable without resorting to psychoanalysis: my neighbour lets her pedigree dog out at 7am, it barks incessantly, (pedigree=inbred=insane).
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: qazibasit on 23/12/2005 10:08:20
you got the answer now there is nothing for me to say. Just that in REM sleep we dream in 4th dimension.
Title: Re: What are dreams ?
Post by: NewBill on 01/10/2006 15:00:25
Since posting here a year ago I noticed that I wasn't recalling dreams for quite some time.  

My oldest is at University now and like many no doubt, he is dealing with the paralyses that sometimes occurs as some deadline approaches, I call it performance anxiety.  My view, which I shared with him, is that things that were hard to do in the past, such as public speaking, job interviews, and performance in school never entirely go away.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that one develops strategies for proceeding that limits the stress damage and increases the performance.

The dreams:  Shortly after this conversation I awoke one morning at the end of a dream about joining/enrolling in some kind of institute in an exotic location.  This particular one was a quazi military educational institute.  I exhausted myself in all manner of strategies to avoid anyone discovering that I was there as a fraud, what kind of fraud I am not quite sure, but it had to do with my ability to meet the minimum performance.  I realized that I have had many variations on this dream going back some years and had never conciously caught anything more than whatever exotic images accompanied the setting.

I believe that the realization of these dreams was brought about by my wishing to help my son deal with his anxieties.  I wish I conciously knew about these concerns earlier though.  It is annoying to realize that my subconcious had a different opinion.