Personal Development

7 Things You Didn't Know About Dreams

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What did you dream about last night? Do you remember? Do you understand dreams? Do you look forward to going to sleep every night and experiencing another world? What will you see? Are you afraid of nightmares?

Dreams are an absolutely wonderful phenomenon that people have been studying for years. We're still not sure why we dream, but everyone does, including animals. Some people only dream in black and white; some people can control their dreams. Did you know that when you dream, you can only see people you already know? Here a number of other interesting facts about dreams. But don't let it get to your head – our dreams are just like living another day – we may not be as clairvoyant or supernatural as we hope we are.

dreams1. You dream throughout the whole night

You may have heard of REM cycles, or, rapid eye movement cycles, which is a time during your sleep where your brain and eyes are acting rapidly on synapses occurring in your brain. It's been popularly reported that you only dream during the REM time of your sleep, but it is in fact untrue. Actually, you dream throughout the entire night, but the dreams during your REM cycle are more pronounced, active, unrealistic, dramatic, and more memorable. Throughout half of the night you might dream about casual, daily, social things, but during the REM dreams you will have the more bombastic dreams about supernatural events or radical action – which of course will be much more memorable to you!

2. We're still not sure why we dream

Dreams are a wonderful phenomenon, but after years of social study and medical discovery, they remain that. No one is still 100% sure why we dream, but theories come up all the time. Many professionals see dreams as our way of interpreting a whole day's worth of sensory enigma, acting as an internal diary for our mind. Others will report that dreams are ways for us to continue thinking, learning and deciding, even while we are in our comatose sleep state. Some people reach fascinating moments that help them make decisions, or learn about new paths or ideas to which to take their life. Regardless, there is no definitive explanation yet as to the purpose of dreams.

3. You remember a dream when you wake up during it

Sleeping is almost an exciting thing to do when we imagine all the crazy dreams we might have – or a risk, since nightmares do commonly occur. It is a magical feeling when we wake up and remember what we have dreamt about; it feels like we've lived a second life, a secret life that only we know. But we can't remember all of our dreams. Why? The key to remembering our dreams is to wake up during the REM cycle. Ever wake up in the middle of the night during a strong sleep, and at the same time, a strong dream? We remember it vividly like we were still awake during it, and still remember it when we wake up in the morning. That's because you woke up to the dream during the REM process. Your memory of it is fresh and depending on the strength, you will remember it for some time to come.

4. You can change bad dreams

Lucid dreaming is an interesting phenomenon that we study pertaining to dreams that we can control and be actively engaged in. It takes practice but there are many people who purport that they an control all of their dreams, think during them, change the course of their path, or wake up when things get rough. We can train ourselves by devising dream strategies – such as, if you see a shark, you know it's a dream, and to act; if you see a certain person, you can decide to take control – just for small examples. People who have regular trauma are prone to bad nightmares. Using dream control practices, you can try to steer the direction of your dreams and help yourself have a better night's sleep; and not be afraid of going to bed any more.

5. High protein foods can help you remember dreams

Our brain is a muscle just like anything else, and it gets tired during the day. If we eat high protein, or active food (think of spicy foods, which engage your senses) before we sleep, our brain goes into overdrive and continues to function at a higher level while we sleep. It charges your REM cycle and allows for much more vivid and crazy dreams, and a stronger memory to remember them. But take caution – it also results the possibility of stronger nightmares. Use your lucid dream training to take care of yourself.

6. The brain works hard while you are sleeping

The brain muscle never relaxes. It doesn't sleep, and it is continually active while our bodies sleep. When we are awake our brain is working to make sense of all the world around us, and when we sleep, our brain continues to live in another world and try to make sense of that one. It never stops relaying information throughout all its cores, and tries to make sense of everything 24 hours a day. Tied with your heart, the brain never gives up on you.

7. You cannot foretell the future when you dream

Dreams are an amazing phenomenon, and when we are dreaming and enjoying our dream world we try to find significance with what we are experiencing. The industry of dream foretelling and recognition is a thriving business and we entertain to seek professionals for advice about what we are seeing when we are asleep. What does it mean? Why are these things happening? Before scientific advances, people like Nostradamus and Leonardo Da Vinci were famous for their prophetic dreams and inventions that came from them. Aside from a good marketing strategy, finding significance in dreams is as purposeful as finding significance in our daily lives – worthwhile, but not quite as prophetic as we would hope.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.