State Fair Community College
Dreams can range from normal and ordinary, to overly surreal and bizarre. The events in dreams are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is aware. Dreams can have varying natures, such as frightening, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or sexual. Dreams can, at times, make a creative thought occur to a person or be a sense of inspiration. Every night, with the wanting of an out-of-body stimulation, our brains screen internally-projected films invented from pieces of our own thoughts. Nearly always, we are in the lead role, we flee from danger, triumph, and flop in our areas of struggle, and enjoy passionate encounters with people we yearn for or hardly know. We do these things and countless others, not in the state of detachment, but rather, in the bizarre falsehoods typical of dreams, convinced the events are real with our emotions and senses.
Dreams As we sleep at night we often dream. Dreams are pictures, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000).
There are many stages of sleep, but there is only two stages dreams actually occur, slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye-movement sleep (REM). We can, and do, dream in either of these stages, but the characteristics of our dreams differ. In the dream stages of sleep most people’s bodies go into a paralyzed state, so that they do not actually act out the dreams (Obringer, 2005).
In the slow wave sleep stage our dreams are more motionless, and will involve older memories. Or they can be very emotionally stimulating. This is the phase where nightmares, night terrors, sleep-walking and bedwetting usually occur (Wenk, 2011).
The rapid eye-movement stage is considered the normal stage of sleep and is the most often researched. It is characterized by rapid movement in the eyes, and is classified in two categories; tonic and phasic (Wenk, 2011). In the tonic part of the rapid eye-movement stage the eyes do not move. On the other hand, in the phasic part of rapid eye-movement stage, they do. It is in the rapid eye-movement stage that other emotional dreams occur, for example, happy, sad, and sexual dreams. It has been discovered that in the rapid eye-movement stage, the brain, is in many ways, every bit as active as when it is awake. In this stage, compared with other stages of sleep, the heart beats faster, breathing quickens, blood pressure and blood flow to the brain rise, while the eyes move rapidly beneath their lids. Brain waves are low-voltage and high-frequency the opposite of a deep sleep, more like what goes on when a person is awake, thinking and talking (Williams, 2007, pg. 65). All mammals experience some sort of rapid eye-movement, but some have more than others. “It appears the less mature a species is at birth, the more rapid eye-movement it has. Assuming for a moment that rapid eye-movement equals dreaming, the opossum and armadillo are among the most creative dreamers, while dolphins do very little of it; humans are in the middle” (Williams, 2007, pg. 65). Researchers suggest that our dreams become more complex as our mental abilities develop. The dreams of very small children do not just seem ordinary. Children lack the expression to bring them to life in the retelling they really are just that simple (Williams, 2007, pg. 65).
Two-thirds of dreams are almost entirely visual, a quarter have sound and a smaller fraction smell and taste. Nine out of ten dreams contain emotion, most commonly mild anxiety or frustration (Williams, 2007, pg. 65). Our dreams tend not to be reproductions of past events but rather, according to research reinterpretations of events that happened at two distinct time periods: yesterday and about a week ago (Garfield, 2005). We also dream about upcoming events and conversations we