What are the common misconceptions about dreams?
The realm of dreams remain to be a mysterious world for us, but through the years, we have been able to unveil substantial portions of this mysterious world. Advances have been made with respect to understanding how and why certain dreams occur, as well as with respect to the relationship between dreams and sleep. Several misconceptions about dreams still persist, however, despite the availability of studies that have conclusively proven these beliefs to be ill-informed myths. Among the most common misconceptions about dreams, there are four that are probably the most persistent.
Myth 1: “If you didn’t wake up with a dream in your head, then you probably didn’t dream that night.” Many people make the mistake of considering their sleep to be dreamless simply because they have no recall of their dreams. In some instances, some people may claim that they have not had any dreams for a prolonged period of time. The truth of the matter is, every person generally dreams every night. In fact, a normal eight-hour period of continuous sleep can contain an average of 4-7 intervals of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. During such an interval, the mind is very active and enters a dreaming state. Waking up without any memory of the dreams that you had that night is only an indication of the interval length between your last REM sleep interval and the time that you woke up. If you are woken up while in a REM sleep interval or immediately after, then you will probably have a recollection of your last dream that night. Lucid dreamers may also have recollections of their dreams even if they don’t wake up immediately after a REM sleep interval.
Myth 2: “Dreams don’t mean anything.” This is one myth that has long been disproved by the various phenomena that have been observed in dreams. The existence of universal dreams, recurring dreams, and dreams that contain elements alien to the person’s waking state are some examples of phenomena that clearly indicate the significance of dreams. There is already a generally-established and generally-accepted principle that dreams have significant meaning to the individual, and the ongoing debates that still persist today revolve only around how the meanings of dreams may be determined. The significance of dreams and dreaming has been proven to apply not only to a person’s psychological well-being but to his physical well-being as well.
Myth 3: “The dreaming state is the best physical and mental state for the mind and body to rejuvenate themselves”. A lot of activity actually goes on when one enters the dreaming state, commonly occurring during the stage of REM sleep. Heart rate and blood pressure go up, and one’s brain activity spikes up. People often base this myth on the fact that the body enters a near paralysis during the dreaming state. The outward inactivity, however, is only a mask of the plethora of activities that are going on within the dreamer. Because of all the mental and physical activity that goes on during the dreaming state, it is not considered as the optimal time by which the body and mind rejuvenates or recharges itself. Deep sleep, which occurs during the third stage of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep is the most restful period in one’s sleep and is considered to be accountable for the rejuvenation that occurs while sleeping.
Myth 4: “Dreams only occur during the stage of REM sleep” This is a common misconception that was perpetuated for a long time even by psychologists. Because rapid eye movement is closely associated with dreaming, most people believed for a long time that dreams only occur during REM sleep intervals. More recent studies have shown, however, that dreams may sometimes occur during the 3rd stage of NREM sleep although such dreams are largely concentrated in the stage of REM sleep.
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