With each passing day, we sleep. It’s such a mundane activity that hardly anyone takes the time to look into the dynamics at play during naptime. Most people make plans for the next day and set their alarms to wake them after a couple of hours so they can re-do the day again, albeit, in a better fashion.
Such is the forlorn state of the science of dreams and sleep. When compared to most Sciences of this age, research on this subject matter is a bit young. It is only until 1953 that rapid eye movement (R.E.M) was discovered. This discovery went on to change and define how we perceive dreams to be.
Researchers have classified sleeping stages into five distinct stages each spanning about 90 minutes lon
In total, there are five sleeping stages. The first one is typically too light for anyone to notice once they wake up from sleep. The second stage of sleeping is denoted by the presence of sleep-specific brainwaves lasting a couple of seconds at an instance. Unlike the first stage, when one wakes up from the second stage of sleep, he/she will immediately become aware that they were in a sleeping state.
The third and fourth stages are termed as being states of deep sleep since we often tend to drift far off from consciousness. The brain sends out long rhythmic delta waves during these stages. When one awakes from stage four of sleep, they often exhibit tendencies of confusion, disorientation and a longing to get back to sleep.
The final fifth stage is when rapid eye movement (R.E.M) is experienced. The eyes tend to dance in the backdrop of our eyelids. During this stage, the brain is fully active, just as it is when we’re awake. It comes as no surprise that this is when we dream the most.
The Essence of Sleep
Since we all sleep, it is essential for us to create conducive environments for naptime. A combination of quality and quantity is essential for developmental purposes and in performing our day-to-day tasks.
Good sleep ensures that the mind continually remains active. The mind does so by sorting out information from yesterday and sorting out which is pertinent and needs saving. Sorting out what is necessary to save is of the essence due to the associated emotional value.
Dreams are the result of extended periods of sleep and they serve as a linkup between old memories and new experiences. Thus, when these memories mesh, we have a dream state where we may appear to be at so many places doing so many things all at once. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Dreams in Reality
The main reason why most of us dream about dangerous situations is because our brain prepares us for similar future situations that can possibly happen to us
We’ve already identified dreams as an amalgamation of new and past memories. Engaging in an activity right before bed is likely to lead to it becoming part of our dreams as it flashes right before our eyes.
Researchers have found an interconnection between activities we dream about and our improved application in the activities. For students, it is recommended to study about a particular topic right before bed in order to aid in the comprehension.
The same can be said to just about any other activity like playing the piano. The harmonious connection in how our minds process music also helps greatly. Doing such activities right before naptime is bound to create an associated feeling of familiarity. Thus, when musicians get to practice, later on, they find that they can easily strum up chords with greater accuracy and pattern as if they were embedded in their nature.
Antti Revonsuo, a neuroscientist at the University of Skovde in Sweden, proposed the Threat Simulation Theory. He argued that the brain tends to prepare for mechanisms to deal with future situations. By reenacting scenes like these in dreams, we get to come up with methodologies to cope with such situations which can be present in real life as well. By doing so, we can stay sharp and focused once we awake.
Next time we’re planning on learning a new language or trying to memorize something important, it’s perhaps necessary to research and study deeply on the subject matter. The next step would be to ensure we spend the last couple of hours before sleeping doing that activity. Who knows, it might just feature in our dreams and voila! We’re the next maestros in our fields.
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