Why Do We Dream?

Why Do We Dream?

Reposted from the Spiritual Sunflower wordpress blog, originally posted on April 24th, 2019


Hello friends!

This is a story written for my school’s newspaper that I’d also like to share here! Dreams have always fascinated me, so having the opportunity to delve deeper into understanding why humans dream was eye opening and very interesting.



There are a variety of theories for why humans dream, and while this is still being explored, one thing for certain is that inevitably, everyone has dreams. That means there must be a purpose for it, right?

Sleep itself has many important functions, including weight management, skin and muscle repair, fighting infections and even helps with memory, attention and mood.

“We spend about one third of our life sleeping. Many think its a waste of time, but there are many benefits,” Dr. Richard Marshall, psychology professor at Florida Southern, said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, so far there is understanding of brain function while sleeping, how sleep works and what dreams “are,”  but scientists are unsure of how to explain why people dream.

One thing researchers do know is most dreams occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the fourth stage of sleep.

“REM sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate, and increased brain activity,” Kendra Cherry, writer at Very Well Health, said.

Theories for why humans dream range from protection, memory processing, creativity and even simple a response of the biological processes going on in the body.

“While some scientists posit that dreaming has no direct function—but instead is a consequence of other biological processes that occur during sleep—many studying sleep and dreams believe dreaming serves a primary purpose,” Michael J Breus, Ph.D. said.

A theory for why people dream is to reflect on life experiences, somewhat like a form of therapy. Often times people report dreams about real things or people in their life, whether that is the past, present or future, or at least feature dream characters that are relatable.

Dreams provide a safe place for individuals to make sense of daily events or even think about the future. Thanks to the absence of outside stimuli, during dreams what’s truly important may be revealed.

“One widely held theory about the purpose of dreams is that they help you store important memories and things you’ve learned, get rid of unimportant memories, and sort through complicated thoughts and feelings,” James Roland, writer at HealthLine, said.

How exactly dreams help memory storage and recall is unclear, but researchers believe that dreaming may help the information be more efficiently stored because stimuli is blocked that would normally interfere.

“If you learn new information and sleep on it, you’ll be able to recall it better than if asked to remember that information without the benefit of sleep,” Roland said.

Another fun theory about why humans dream is to enhance and fuel creativity. When sleeping, the mind doesn’t have as much of a filter as when awake, letting one’s creative tendencies flow.

“Artists of all kinds credit dreams with inspiring some of their most creative work,” Roland said.

Because of this unlimited creative flow, dreams may also help an individual sort through or understand difficult situations. The National Sleep Foundation explains that dreams provide an opportunity for an individual to practice major life events such as a stressful conversation or performance with the extra concentration and pressure that occurs when they are awake.

Dreams may also serve a very important purpose for methods of protection or dealing with threats. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s common for people to experience dreams where they feel threatened or scared because during REM sleep, the amygdala fires more rapidly than it does when someone is awake.

“The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with the survival instinct and the fight-or-flight response,” Roland said.

Essentially, the brain can prepare itself to face difficult emotional situations through dreams.


Thank you for stopping by and reading! Why do you think you dream?? Let me know what you think!

Love and light,


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