Dream is something we all would’ve experienced at least once in our lives. People love dreams so much; many love it even more than reality. What is so cool about a dream? You can live your wishes in your dreams; you can do things that are impossible at all. You can fight monsters, fly to Mars or even build your own universe. Everything is possible in a dream. But why do dreams occur? How do our thoughts influence our dreams? Are dreams mere reflections of our thoughts or has something else to it?
These are frequent questions that perturb us.
What is a dream?
Dream is more like a sequence of images, ideas, thoughts, emotions that occur in our sleep involuntarily. People say that dreams reveal unconscious, deep wishes and desires.
While dreaming, the subconscious mind processes the events of the day. So, it’s common to have dreams of things that happened earlier.
People get dreams about things they anticipate, like one gets dreams about a subject topic if he/she has an exam the next day; if you’re anxious about something to happen, you’ll likely get a dream as if it’s happening.
Science says that dreams are a part of psychoanalysis, to reflect unconscious mental functions, preparing for future threats, reprocesses memory and it also helps to develop cognitive capacities.
Many of us would have known of the term ‘lucid dream’. Lucid dream is nothing but a dream where you know that you are dreaming. It is more like a conscious dream. Lucid dreaming ranges from knowing that you are in a dream to controlling your actions, surroundings and the dream itself. A normal dream is like watching a movie and you are one of the characters; but a lucid dream is like playing a video game- you have control over it.
Are lucid dreams real? Yes, they are. A research was held in 2012, where lucid dreamers were made to dream and after that they were asked to explain their dreams. An instrument, FMRI scanners was used to monitor the blood flow to different parts of the brain. When the dreamers said that they were doing something in their dreams, they were actually doing it, because the brain region corresponding to that action had a higher blood flow. E.g. when dreamers told that they were writing something, the brain regions that get activated during this action showed high blood flow, proving that they were actually doing it.
Many people are naturally capable of lucid dreaming whereas some never have experienced one. Scientists say that telling to yourself that you’ll remember your dream, more like chanting to yourself- will be beneficial and there are chances that you’ll have a lucid dream.
Lucid dreamers say that these not only help in entertainment but also expands their conscious boundaries. The disadvantage is that lucid dreamers sometimes find it difficult to distinguish reality from a dream, which may be a sign of mental illness.
Nevertheless, lucid dreaming is like a trail session to prepare yourself for the future events. For example, a lucid dreamer can dream himself attending an interview he/she has been preparing for and know the possible outcome. You can find situations in your dreams that can be troublesome and avoid such situations in real life.
Some people are capable of lucid dreaming while some are not. So, what happens in our subconscious that triggers such an experience?
Only 20 – 30% of the population are natural lucid dreamers. If that is really very beneficial, why doesn’t this occur to all?
These are a few questions that remain unanswered. There are a lot of things yet to be discovered about lucid dreams.
What do dreams convey?
There are quite a few incidents that show that dream is not just a subconscious thought process, but it has more meaning to it. Some inventions in the world have occurred with the help of dreams.
Larry Page, had the fear that he was accepted into Stamford university by mistake. He had a dream where he downloaded everything on the web onto some old computers. He awoke from his sleep midway and started doing some math for this kind of program, which 2 years later developed to be Google.
James Watson had a dream in which he saw a spiral staircase. After this dream he developed the idea of double helical structure of the DNA.
Theory of relativity
Einstein once had a dream. He was walking in a farm where he saw a herd of cow, that huddled up against an electric fence. Accidentally, the farmer turned on the electric fence. Einstein saw all cows jumping back by the shock at the same time whereas the farmer saw them jump one by one in a Mexican wave.
This inspired the theory of relativity-that what we see depends on where we are standing.
The sewing machine
Elias Howe was trying hard to invent the lock stitch sewing machine, when he had this dream. A cannibal group captured Howe and ordered him to invent a sewing machine within 24 hours- else he had to suffer a painful death. He couldn’t invent it and so the Cannibals stabbed him repeatedly with a spear that had a hole in its tip. This gave him the idea to have a hole on the needle tip to put in the thread, and hence he invented the sewing machine.
Bohr’s atom model
Neil’s Bohr saw in his dream an atom nucleus with electrons revolving around it. He had a feeling that it was right and thus he started research on this and his dream was actually correct!
The periodic table
Mendeleev’s periodic table was formed in his dream. In his own words, “I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.”
My thought is that, sleep is a time when the brain organises data gathered during the day. It’s like a compiling time for the memory, and when the brain finds something important to be stored, it gets reflected in our dreams. That is also why you get a clarity of thought when you wake up after sleep.
Science has a lot to discover from this simple yet wonderful phenomenon and are dreams capable of influencing the future world?
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.–Sigmund Freud
Are you a lucid dreamer? Has any dream changed your life? Do comment below.