Stage 4 : The brain produces delta waves almost exclusively.
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It is difficult to wake someone during stages 3 and 4, which together are called "deep sleep. People awakened while in deep sleep do not adjust immediately and often feel disoriented for several minutes after waking up. This forms 12 to 15 percent of total sleep. Stage 5 : This stage is known as rapid eye movement REM.
Breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, and limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and males develop penile erections. When people awaken during REM sleep, they often describe bizarre and illogical tales. These are dreams.
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This stage accounts for 20 to 25 percent of total sleep time. Neuroscience offers explanations linked to the rapid eye movement REM phase of sleep as a likely candidate for the cause of dreaming. 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. There is no cognitive state that has been as extensively studied and yet as frequently misunderstood as dreaming.
There are significant differences between the neuroscientific and psychoanalytic approaches to dream analysis.
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Neuroscientists are interested in the structures involved in dream production, dream organization, and narratability. However, psychoanalysis concentrates on the meaning of dreams and placing them in the context of relationships in the history of the dreamer. Reports of dreams tend to be full of emotional and vivid experiences that contain themes, concerns, dream figures, and objects that correspond closely to waking life. These elements create a novel "reality" out of seemingly nothing, producing an experience with a lifelike timeframe and connections.
Nightmares are distressing dreams that cause the dreamer to feel a number of disturbing emotions. Common reactions to a nightmare include fear and anxiety. Lucid dreaming is the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. They may have some control over their dream.
This measure of control can vary between lucid dreams. They often occur in the middle of a regular dream when the sleeping person realizes suddenly that they are dreaming. Some people experience lucid dreaming at random, while others have reported being able to increase their capacity to control their dreams.
For example, during exam time, students may dream about course content. People in a relationship may dream of their partner. Web developers may see programming code. These circumstantial observations suggest that elements from the everyday re-emerge in dream-like imagery during the transition from wakefulness to sleep. Studies have examined the "characters" that appear in dream reports and how they the dreamer identifies them. A study of adult dream reports found:. Another study investigated the relationship between dream emotion and dream character identification.
Affection and joy were commonly associated with known characters and were used to identify them even when these emotional attributes were inconsistent with those of the waking state. The findings suggest that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, associated with short-term memory, is less active in the dreaming brain than during waking life, while the paleocortical and subcortical limbic areas are more active.
The concept of 'repression' dates back to Freud.
Freud maintained that undesirable memories could become suppressed in the mind. Dreams ease repression by allowing these memories to be reinstated. A study showed that sleep does not help people forget unwanted memories. Instead, REM sleep might even counteract the voluntary suppression of memories, making them more accessible for retrieval.
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The findings of one study suggest that:. Dream-lag is when the images, experiences, or people that emerge in dreams are images, experiences, or people you have seen recently, perhaps the previous day or a week before. The idea is that certain types of experiences take a week to become encoded into long-term memory, and some of the images from the consolidation process will appear in a dream. Events experienced while awake are said to feature in 1 to 2 percent of dream reports, although 65 percent of dream reports reflect aspects of recent waking life experiences.
The dream-lag effect has been reported in dreams that occur at the REM stage but not those that occur at stage 2. A study exploring different types of memory within dream content among 32 participants found the following:. Researchers suggest that memories of personal experiences are experienced fragmentarily and selectively during dreaming. The purpose may be to integrate these memories into the long-lasting autobiographical memory.
A hypothesis stating that dreams reflect waking-life experiences is supported by studies investigating the dreams of psychiatric patients and patients with sleep disorders. In short, their daytime symptoms and problems are reflected in their dreams.
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In , Freud described a category of dreams known as "biographical dreams. Many authors agree that some traumatic dreams perform a function of recovery. One paper hypothesizes that the main aspect of traumatic dreams is to communicate an experience that the dreamer has in the dream but does not understand.
This can help an individual reconstruct and come to terms with past trauma. The themes of dreams can be linked to the suppression of unwanted thoughts and, as a result, an increased occurrence of that suppressed thought in dreams. The results demonstrate that there were increased dreams about the unwanted thought and a tendency to have more distressing dreams. They also imply that thought suppression may lead to significantly increased mental disorder symptoms. Research has indicated that external stimuli presented during sleep can affect the emotional content of dreams.
For example, the positively-toned stimulus of roses in one study yielded more positively themed dreams, whereas the negative stimulus of rotten eggs was followed by more negatively themed dreams. Up to now, the frequencies of typical dream themes have been studied with questionnaires. These have indicated that a rank order of 55 typical dream themes has been stable over different sample populations.
For example, from to , there was an increase in the percentage of people who reported flying in dreams. This could reflect the increase in air travel. Relationships : Some have hypothesized that one cluster of typical dreams, including being an object in danger, falling, or being chased, is related to interpersonal conflicts.
Sexual concepts : Another cluster that includes flying, sexual experiences, finding money, and eating delicious food is associated with libidinal and sexual motivations. Fear of embarrassment : A third group, containing dreams that involve being nude, failing an examination, arriving too late, losing teeth, and being inappropriately dressed, is associated with social concerns and a fear of embarrassment. In neuroimaging studies of brain activity during REM sleep, scientists found that the distribution of brain activity might also be linked to specific dream features.
Several bizarre features of normal dreams have similarities with well-known neuropsychological syndromes that occur after brain damage, such as delusional misidentifications for faces and places.
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Dreams were evaluated in people experiencing different types of headache. Results showed people with migraine had increased frequency of dreams involving taste and smell. This may suggest that the role of some cerebral structures, such as amygdala and hypothalamus, are involved in migraine mechanisms as well as in the biology of sleep and dreaming. Music in dreams is rarely studied in scientific literature. However, in a study of 35 professional musicians and 30 non-musicians, the musicians experienced twice as many dreams featuring music, when compared with non-musicians.
Musical dream frequency was related to the age of commencement of musical instruction but not to the daily load of musical activity. Nearly half of the recalled music was non-standard, suggesting that original music can be created in dreams. It has been shown that realistic, localized painful sensations can be experienced in dreams, either through direct incorporation or from memories of pain. However, the frequency of pain dreams in healthy subjects is low. In one study, 28 non-ventilated burn victims were interviewed for 5 consecutive mornings during their first week of hospitalization.
Results showed :. More than half did not report pain dreams. However, these results could suggest that pain dreams occur at a greater frequency in populations currently experiencing pain than in normal volunteers. One study has linked frontotemporal gamma EEG activity to conscious awareness in dreams.
The study found that current stimulation in the lower gamma band during REM sleep influences on-going brain activity and induces self-reflective awareness in dreams. Researchers concluded that higher order consciousness is related to oscillations around 25 and 40 Hz. Recent research has demonstrated parallels between styles of romantic attachment and general dream content.
Assessment results from 61 student participants in committed dating relationships of six months duration or longer revealed a significant association between relationship-specific attachment security and the degree to which dreams about romantic partners followed. The findings illuminate our understanding of mental representations with regards to specific attachment figures. Researchers compared the dream content of different groups of people in a psychiatric facility.
Participants in one group had been admitted after attempting to take their own lives. Their dreams of this group were compared with those of three control groups in the facility who had experienced:.
Those who had considered or attempted suicide or carried out violence had were more likely to have dreams with content relating to death and destructive violence. One factor affecting this was the severity of an individual's depression. The right and left hemispheres of the brain seem to contribute in different ways to a dream formation.