College College Biology and Chemistry College Mind, Brain, and Behavior

The Science of Sleep (Part 2)

Apparently, dreams support neural development by stimulating the brain through brain chemical reactions and interactions. This may be why babies sleep for up to 16 hours a day! This way, babies cognitively develop because dreams mimic reality, allowing them space to further explore and understand the world.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello readers, this time I’m back with an easy introduction to other sleep phenomena like dream analysis. Did you record some dreams? Dreams come in wide varieties, like experiencing your dream in first-person or seeing yourself in the dream in third-person or not even having your own person be a part of the dream.

Some may be significant or symbolic to issues in your conscious life, also known as containing latent content. Symbols like fear after being chased by spiders or falling off a cliff may indicate arachnophobia or fear of heights, while having a steamy dream may be Freudian in nature. Other dreams are just plain bizarre and may just be remixing random concepts or thoughts that came to your mind during the day through a story form via the information processing theory of dreams. According to other theories, “REM sleep triggers neural activity, and dreams are accidental side-effects.” (1) Still, other dreams may just be the results of the physiological function theory. Apparently, dreams support neural development by stimulating the brain through brain chemical reactions and interactions. This may be why babies sleep for up to 16 hours a day! This way, babies cognitively develop because dreams mimic reality, allowing them space to further explore and understand the world.

To read about/analyze others’ dreams or submit your own dreams, check out one-time-i-dreamt.tumblr.com. Below, I will compile a few dreams, subject to interpretation.

Dreams often seem ridiculous once you wake up, but for some reason, in the dream, the events seemed normal. For future reference, manifest content is the actual events that occur in a dream. (2) Latent content is the interpreted meaning or Freudian unfulfilled wishes behind a dream. For example, this is a dream’s latent content: (3)

“Had a dream last night that my pastor announced in the middle of worship that, to help me out financially, the church was going to let me play the French Horn one Sunday a month for donations, starting that day.

He hadn’t said anything about it to me.

I don’t play French Horn. In real life, or in the dream.

Very happy I woke up before dream-me decided to awkwardly fake it.”

Here is some latent content: Lucid dreaming is the concept of consciously controlling what goes on in your dream. There is a blurry line between whether making decisions in your dream is preset in the dream or part of your consciousness making decisions as if it was the real world. This ambiguous situation is demonstrated in this submission, as it is unclear if the dream would have let the dream submitter magically play the French horn perfectly or if the dream version of the submitter would not know how to play the French horn. Leave it to future research to answer this question!

From this dream, we can deduce that the submitter is somewhat religious and may be stressed by financial trouble, as it is important enough to invade their dreams.

Here is another humorous dream’s manifest content:

“i was at a cabin in the woods sleeping and my crew coach came in screaming that the bus to the hardware store was leaving in ten seconds and I knew I had to get up immediately but then I stopped to take a shower instead.”

Latent content: The lapse of logic in dreams is hilarious, but then again, dreams can be more symbolic than anything. Concern for cleanliness in dreams may signify a desire for purification or washing away of negativity. On the other hand, the dream submitter may be characterized by lack of prioritization skills or procrastination.

Freudian dream analysis is often sexual in nature or suggests that dreams contain offensive or embarrassing repressed content, like abuse or sexual assault. Freud is often criticized for blaming many psychological problems on repression or unconscious desires or sexualizing everything. To him, a stick or pole or gun or sword represented a penis; although this may be the case sometimes, modern psychologists often downplay the significance of sexuality or the existence of repressed thoughts interfering in dreams. (4)

Feel free to comment your own dreams and your analyses of them or provide different analyses of the dreams I cited above!

To finish off this trilogy about the science of sleep, I will discuss sleep disorders next time!


References and Footnotes

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMHus-0wFSo

(2) MYERS, DAVID G. MYERS PSYCHOLOGY FOR AP. WORTH PUB, 2018.

(3) one-time-i-dreamt.tumblr.com

(4) https://www.simplypsychology.org/Sigmund-Freud.html

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