Dreams are often incredibly confusing or surprisingly enlightening. Causing us to relive old memories; helping us to see worlds we’d otherwise never get to see. But why exactly do we imagine while we sleep? Why do we, in fact, dream? It’s frankly an intriguing subject, because dreams themselves are an odd mental occurrence that we all share. Before we delve into why exactly humanity has been having dreams, let’s have a brief discussion about what exactly dreams are.
What Are Dreams?
Firstly, dreams are typically stories, images, sights, sounds or other sensory occurrences that our brains manifest in some way while we sleep. They can be entirely fabricated or fictional stories with things you’ve never seen; they can be the reliving of memories and contain many of your friends and family. Sometimes they can bring about great and terrible emotions alike, some of which will stay with us even after we awaken. There are lucid dreams in which we can recall that we are in a dream, maintaining some kind of sentience. Other dreams appear as nightmares, which can draw out fearful, sad or otherwise negative emotions with what can only otherwise be described as a “bad dream”.
Your subconscious is certainly smarter, and more active, than you probably thought. Recurring dreams or nightmares could quite literally be your own brain or consciousness trying to tell you something - which is where the common story trope of psychiatrists interpreting dreams originates. The important thing to note while this happens to you is that nightmares are nothing but dreams, and are in no shape or form reality. Now that we’ve recapped ourselves a bit on what exactly dreams are, let’s get to the root of our topic.
Most Common Reasons We Dream
The unfortunate and almost comical truth about why we dream is that, frankly, we don’t really know yet. There are numerous theories but the truth is that there is no true consensus answer. Our brains are vastly complex, with subtleties that we’ve only begun to discover and map. The answer to why we dream is probably equally complex to our actual biology, why is both wonderfully mysterious and somewhat frustrating. However, there are quite a few viable theories as to why we dream - let’s get into the most prominent ones!
Tension and Anxiety
One of the most common dreams are those relating to a person’s occupation or actual workplace. Most people have dreamed about a stressful day of work, an event with coworkers or employees, or the reliving of anxiety-stricken moments with the boss. While we don’t necessarily know why our brains want us to process this stressful information, many have posited that the brain could perceive these negative emotions as unresolved or problematic - and it’s reminding you that you need to search for an answer to these unsettled feelings.
Motivations and Desires
Though we may not know it, a lot of our dreams will reveal our inner motivations and desires. Some of which we may never have thought of before! You could imagine a place you’ve never been to simply because you subconsciously want to go there. Your brain could be creating a story or have you doing an activity that you’ve always wanted to do but have just never had the willpower to do! This is obviously one of the more optimistic theories about why we dream, and could help us to discover what we really want in life.
Memory Incorporation and Emotion Processing
Our brains have to deal with and process quite a lot! Most of which is completely unknown to us, as it does an incredible amount of “processes” that we are simply incapable of perceiving. It wouldn’t be surprising to know that those unsettled feelings, mixed emotions or stirred-up memories we relive or experience on the day-to-day basis could be just as impactful for our subconscious mind as it is for our conscious mind. Sometimes our minds will actively help us look for solutions in difficult situations, sometimes it frustratingly reminds us of situations from which we can’t easily remove ourselves.
Strange Stories With No Correlation To Anything
That’s right, one of the most prominent theories about dreams is that there’s simply no actual reason or purpose to our dreams! Our mind just relives a random combination of images, people, sounds or anything else and has us live through some strange and random story. Claims that dreams can be interpreted have never really been confirmed with any concrete evidence. Without any clear or consistent rhyme or reason, it’s very possible that dreams are simply an odd neurological incident that we share with different species of the animal world!
What Do Our Dreams Actually Mean?!
The answer to this particular question could be either complex or simple, and the truth is that we just don’t know. Over time, countless members of many communities have attempted to interpret dreams, to some avail. To help many decipher or understand their dreams people often keep dream journals. Kept by their bed, their goal is to help keep a current and immediate log of your dreams while also giving you insight into what you dream about over a long period of time. If you’re actively wondering why you dream so much, write them down and spend some time thinking about what your brain is trying to tell you!
Recurring dreams are one of the most well-known ways that dreams or thoughts can manifest themselves. If you have a particular fear that keeps coming to mind; if you have an upcoming event or moment that you dread. Your mind will not only share this dread, but it will absolutely try and “help” you to work your way through a solution or settle some mixed or unresolved emotions. The truth is that could very well be what your dreams are, a manifestation of an idea your brain is trying to tell you that it has no other way of doing. It could also be a mishmash of emotions, people and events that your brain is simply reliving in some way.
Many believe that could be why some of the most common dreams are stressful or anxiety-stricken events that people relive. Others believe your mind is trying to help you through the difficulties of your day-to-day. Whatever dreams are they’re a fascinating and strangely imaginative occurrence that just goes to show how truly powerful our minds are!