Wouldn’t it just be a hoot if we could choose what to dream of, navigate this uncoherent mind landscape as a personal amusement park, therapy session where the desires unfulfilled in reality could be played out and satisfied, as a realm where the only applicable rules are your own be it emotional or physical laws… but this is not how it works. Science can tell us what a star is made of a million light years away but we can’t crack the code of our own meaty center for the life of us. Our limited understanding of what goes on inside the brain while we sleep or why we dream is actually to be expected because it is hard to analyze a system only by what is at disposal of that system, it’s like your eye trying to see itself without the help of a reflective surface.
Why do we dream then? There is no finite or singular answer and the theories are many and varied but what we do know is that the brain a survival headquarters, a dome dedicated to upping your chances of navigating the physical reality filled with things, dangerous and pleasant, filled with challenge and security of rest and recuperation. So the only meta-explanation is that dreams are here as an aid to the all permeating mission of survival and dreams try to prepare us for life, processing what was left unprocessed during the day. The images and emotions you experience are just an epiphenomenon of the frontal cortex (the regulatory and conscious part of the brain) trying to make sense of the flood of impulses from the more primitive older parts of the brain, we fortify memories in order to remember important lessons and let go of the irrelevant, we repeat the new skills we learned in wakefulness like a dry run without the consequence that failing in reality would have, we deal with emotions and senses that were overpowered by the current needs of the day…
You’ll forget 95% of your dreams in the first 10minutes of having them once they’ve served their purpose and remembering them has more to do with waking up at a certain stage of sleep than on the importance of a dream. So if you’re woken up in the middle of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase you’ll almost likely remember the dream. During REM the brain actually tries to make sense of things but, released from the constraints of physical realties is free to construct amazing narratives. The MRI shows that the profile of brain electrical activity in REM is similar to awake states but the production of norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine is almost completely stopped, making you immobile so you wouldn’t harm yourself or others while acting out the dream meteorically.
The general consensus is that a dream is not what it is and things in don’t carry the meaning they do in reality because the frontal cortex designs a patchwork of things you saw, felt, experienced, entangles it with archetypes and emotions you associate with certain words, objects or people. Can they be prophetic? Well yes in a way because they can show you more clearly what you’ve picked up unconsciously, the information that never had the chance to get into the noisy conscious mind without being hampered by awake rationalizations. Why do we dream then? We’re not entirely sure, but we do so we might as well enjoy it and be thankful that we do. Some fun facts are – if you didn’t dream you’d develop psychosis and all of the faces you see in your dreams, even if you don’t recognize them, are the faces you’ve seen somewhere and which for some reason stuck in your mind and got associated with something else. So dream on dreamers, there is much to be dreamt about.