The following information presented in this article is a mixture of personal observations, beliefs, and academic research. All unoriginal material and information will be referenced at the end of the article, with links to the sites. Please bear in mind that this article was written under extreme time constraints and is open to scrutiny from any readers.
Dreams. Little is actually known about dreams in the realm of society and science. It is a topic which has avoided complete exposure and reveal. There then, remains much speculation about its role and purpose within the human body.
Dreams, although, are not the only thing that have remained concealed with information; this applies to the unconscious mind as well. While an idea popularized by Sigmund Freud, it remains untapped into and elusive for general understanding. But with constant advancements in technology, methodology, and science, multiple theories surrounding the unconscious mind and dreams have risen.
This then begs a question: do dreams reveal information locked within the unconscious mind? Such a question has no real answer since research is still being conducted on these topics and because there is division of interpretation within this field of study. However, plenty of questions can be asked, tested and reported on. Allow us to conduct some debate on this shifty topic.
Firstly, let’s begin the basics one should know with regards to the unconscious mind and dreams; starting with sleep, dreams, how they work, and the current theories surrounding them.
We are all familiar with the fact that we cannot dream without falling asleep. Everyone knows this but there are some requirements that must be fulfilled before we can actually reach a dreaming state. When the body falls asleep, it does so in stages with gradual changes in brainwave patterns, and physiological conditions.
Sleep can be broken down into five stages:
- Stages 1 & 2 are considered “light sleep” where eye movement slows until it stops and muscle activity slows. The brain produces slower brain waves along with rapid waves.
- Stages 3 & 4 are considered “deep sleep” or “slow wave sleep” where it is harder to wake the sleeper. Delta waves are produced until they are exclusive in the brain and there is no muscle activity or eye movement. These stages also make up non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The sleeper can experience dreams to a small extent and night terrors (Stage 4).
- Stage 5 is called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Breathing becomes shallow, irregular, and rapid with sharp jerking eye movement. The limbs become temporarily paralyzed. Heart rate increases along with blood pressure. The sleeper can experience dreams and nightmares.
So now we understand the physiological process of sleep, and the pattern which we must follow to reach the dreaming state(s). But exactly what are dreams? According to MedicalNewsToday, “Dreams are a universal human experience that can be described as a state of consciousness characterized by sensory, cognitive and emotional occurrences during sleep. The dreamer has reduced control over the content, visual images and activation of the memory.”
To put this into simpler terms, dreams are something everyone experiences (even if they are unaware they are experiencing it.) They involve experiencing stimulation regarding the senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, etc.) which is not actually happening but is created in our mind and thus feels real. They involve the inclusion of processing emotions we can feel in our waking lives, as well as normal waking functions and situational understanding. And, the sleeper has limited control over what they dream about.