Dreams have fascinated people since the beginning of time. They were first seen as messages sent by the Gods. Advances in medicine and the emergence of scientific thinking have shown that dreams are perfectly identifiable and explainable phenomena. The progress of science has allowed the creation of machines to measure neuronal interactions with precision during sleep. Scientists have conducted numerous studies that have shown that sleep and dreams are essential to the proper development of our brain. They play an essential role in the regulation of our emotions. But then how is a dream made? How do we dream? How does the brain produce a dream?
Dreams: the scientific explanation
To understand how a dream is made, you have to know that a dream is made by our brain when we sleep. Modern medicine has allowed scientists to approach the question of dreams in a more factual way. New medical imaging techniques, such as the electroencephalogram (EEG), make it possible to record brain activity during sleep. This device allows us to see the electrical activity between the neurons of the brain.
Numerous studies have been conducted with hundreds of patients to study the different phases of their sleep. From these experiments, scientists have been able to demonstrate that there are 2 phases in a sleep cycle in all individuals: slow-wave sleep or deep sleep and REM sleep.
The sleep cycle
A sleep cycle consists of a deep sleep phase and a REM sleep phase. Each night, we have about 4 to 6 sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes.
Slow wave sleep or deep sleep : the memory
The slow wave sleep phase also called deep sleep, corresponds to a slowing down of brain activity. The electrical waves emitted by the brain are long and of low frequency. This slowing down is progressive. The neurons interact slowly with each other but they do not stop interacting. The brain is not completely inactive and certain areas of the brain are activated at times.
Scientists have been able to demonstrate that it is during the deep sleep phase that we record our memories. It is a learning phase where we consolidate what we have learned during the day. This is when memory is created.
In the first phase, the brain gradually “slows down”, the electroencephalographic trace revealing ample and low-frequency waves. This is a sign that the neurons are sending fewer nerve impulses and that, overall, the brain is less active – even though a number of things happen during this phase, including the consolidation of memories.
REM sleep : the creativity
REM sleep is also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep the eyes make very rapid and jerky movements and roll in orbit. During this phase of sleep, only the eyes move, the rest of the body is immobile as if paralyzed.
On an electroencephalogram, the waves emitted by the brain are much faster than during slow-wave sleep (about 10 times faster). The neuronal activity is the same as for an awake brain.
During this phase, the brain forms elaborate images and visual constructions. It does not need any external stimuli. Moreover, during this phase of REM sleep, the primary senses do not function and do not send any information to the brain. The brain no longer makes the difference between dream and reality. There is no more notion of coherence because the prefrontal lobe is at rest.
What happens when we dream?
To understand how a dream is made, we must know how the brain produces the dream. When we dream, during our sleep, the brain is not at rest, quite the contrary. It functions almost normally. The neurons exchange electrical waves as they do in the waking state. During the slow wave sleep phase, the brain is slowing down and recording memories. During REM sleep, the brain is in full swing and activates several areas of our brain depending on what we experience in our dreams. The dream brain nucleus is located at the back of the brain in the posterior area. It is this area of the brain that creates the dream. It is also called the “hot zone”.
Why do we dream?
In addition to understanding and knowing how we dream, we must know why we dream? What is the purpose of a dream?
Dreams are a means of expression for the brain. It is a moment that allows the brain to “relax” and to assimilate the information acquired during the day. Dreaming is an essential element that participates in the proper functioning of psychic activity. It is a moment of decompression for the brain which continues to function but without using the frontal lobe and the sensory stimuli transmitted by the body in the waking state.
To know more about the reasons why we dream you may consult our article on the subject.
What exactly is a dream?
A dream is a psychic creation that occurs during sleep. It can be analysed in a philosophical way. It can also be used in psychoanalysis where it is seen as the means of expression of our subconscious.
The interpretation of dreams is a science of its own which allows us to find the hidden meaning of our dreams. The scenarios set up by our unconscious can be surprising, fairy tale, dreamlike, fantastic and sometimes unreal. The precise analysis of the dream allows us to decipher the messages of our unconscious. The study of dreams can help solve everyday problems.
There are several types of dreams:
– Lucid dreams: these are dreams of full consciousness that we remember when we wake up.
– Current events dreams: these are dreams that deal with what is happening in your life at the moment.
– Recurring dreams: these are dreams that are repeated and that you will have several times in your life.
– Creative dreams: dreams of pure creation, they come out of your imagination and do not relate to reality.
– Premonitory dreams: these are dreams that are supposed to predict the future (they are very rare).
We explain in detail in this article what a dream is.
We have explained in this article with as much precision as possible how a dream is made. Science evolves every day, and new answers are brought to give a more precise explanation of this phenomenon. The dream is not just dreamlike, it has a real and scientific existence. The study of dreams, the interpretation of dreams, and the search for the meaning of dreams is a good way to learn to understand oneself and to solve one’s problems. This science is very much used in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis to help patients move forward and solve their problems.