Do you dream in order to sleep or do you sleep in order to dream? Researchers are in agreement that there is a purpose to dreaming and that it plays an important role, despite the fact that this question is still open to debate.
It is said that time heals all wounds, but the results of my research suggest that the only thing that actually heals is time spent in dream sleep. When you wake up the next morning, REM-sleep dreaming may offer emotional resolution to difficult or even traumatic emotional episodes that were experienced during the previous day. This may be because REM-sleep dreaming appears to take the painful sting out of difficult emotional episodes.
Dreaming has the potential to assist individuals in tempering their emotional reactivity. This is most likely due to the fact that the emotional content of dreams is accompanied by a reduction in noradrenaline production in the brain. A study that Murray Raskind conducted on veterans suffering from PTSD, who frequently experience incapacitating nightmares, provided support for this idea. The veterans in his study who were given the drug Prazosin, which lowers blood pressure and also acts as a blocker of the brain stress chemical noradrenaline, experienced fewer nightmares and fewer symptoms of PTSD than those who were given a placebo.
Prazosin is a medication that lowers blood pressure and also acts as a blocker of the brain stress chemical noradrenaline. Although the research on this topic is still in its infancy, more recent studies suggest that this effect can be shown in children and adolescents who suffer from nightmares as well.
The only time that our brain is completely devoid of the molecule that causes anxious feelings is when we are in the REM stage of sleep. During REM sleep, key emotional and memory-related structures in the brain are reactivated, which is when we dream. This indicates that the reactivation of emotional memories takes place in a brain that is devoid of a key chemical associated with stress. As a result, we are able to reprocess traumatic memories in a more secure and relaxed setting.
People who are prevented from entering the dream phase of sleep or the REM stage have been shown in studies to exhibit symptoms of irritability and anxiety. One type of research on dreams involves startling participants awake just as they are about to enter their dream state. After that, they are permitted to go back to sleep as normal. They are awakened once more just before they enter the REM stage of sleep. This goes on throughout the entirety of the night. The participants in the study slept for the same length of time as they normally would.
The following day, when these volunteers went about their normal activities, it was observed that they were disoriented, depressed, crabby, and quick to temper. Their normal day-to-day functioning is significantly impaired in general. A few of them consume significantly more food than usual. As this research is carried out over the course of several nights, the participants become increasingly agitated. It has been discovered that a lack of REM sleep can result in hypersensitivity, a decreased ability to concentrate, and memory loss.
It has been shown that getting into a deep sleep stage that does not involve REM can strengthen individual memories. During REM sleep, however, those fragments of memory can be pieced together and rearranged in ways that are highly abstract and original. During the dreaming state, your brain will process vast swaths of previously acquired information, after which it will extract overarching rules and commonalities, thereby creating a frame of mind that can help us divine solutions to problems that were previously insolvable.
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