Why people dream: reasons, functions, interesting facts

Posted on Jul 1, 2022      280

Dreams - a very mysterious phenomenon. For centuries, people have been trying to understand why we dream this or that dream, how to decipher dreams and find out at what point a person dreams.

Even in ancient times, dreams were given great importance, so people tried to interpret the dream events. Interest on this topic is now no less. Let’s look at the most pressing issues related to dreams.

Why do people dream the reasons?

Dreams are stories and images that our minds create while we sleep. They can be interesting, fun, romantic, disturbing, and sometimes strange. Dreams are a constant source of mystery for scientists and psychologists. What mysteries of dreams do we not yet know, and why do we dream?

There are several theories that tell us about the causes of dreams. Are they simply part of the dream cycle, or do they serve some other purpose? Let’s try to figure it out.

So why do people have dreams? Possible explanations include:

  • Representation of unconscious desires and wishes. Sigmund Freud was convinced that dreams represent some unfulfilled desire. Later researchers saw them as having a more pragmatic quality, as a reflection of waking life.
  • The systematization and processing of information gathered during the day. According to Francis Crick, information sorting occurs during sleep. Certain data are stored in memory, others are deleted.
  • Dreams work as psychotherapy. Dreams help us cope with powerful emotions such as fear, sadness, and love.
  • Dreams help us prepare for potential threats or dangers. Scientists in Finland have found that the reproduction of a threat or danger during a dream makes it possible to better prepare for them.

Psychoanalysts believe dreams provide an outlet for our emotions and mental stress, allowing the brain to reset. Dreams help balance our emotions and allow us to get rid of unnecessary information.

A person dreams every 90 minutes, and they last up to 45 minutes. It is known that the most intense dreams people have in the morning. Dreams are dreams for everyone, but not everyone remembers them. How to remember a dream, you will learn in one of the following paragraphs.

What are conscious dreams?

Let’s digress a little and talk about what conscious dreams are. Sometimes a sleeping person may know they are in a dream. This can happen spontaneously or after various training sessions. Such a state is called a conscious dream.

Modern methods of entering conscious dreams have appeared, such as keeping a dream diary, using special devices (devices that record rapid eye movements and send light signals to the eyelids of the sleeper), etc.

The ability of people to manifest dream consciousness varies; some people can naturally control their dreams, while others need to develop this ability in themselves. There are attempts to use conscious dreaming in psychotherapy.

The functions of dreams or why we dream

Based on evidence and new methodologies, researchers have suggested that dreams serve the following functions:

  • Memory processing, to reduce emotional arousal and help with further stressful events;
  • preparation for possible future threats;
  • simulating actual life events;
  • aid in the development of cognitive abilities;
  • activating a unique state of consciousness that includes experience of the present, processing of the past, and preparation for the future;
  • dreaming helps us learn and develop long-term memories.

In sleep, our brain analyzes the information received during the day, sorts it, choosing what is important to remember and what can be temporarily discarded.

And also the search for solutions to urgent human issues is carried out. That is why very often the right solution to the question of interest comes in the morning, because at night the brain has processed all the information received and found a solution to the problem.

Is it normal to dream every day?

Do I always have to dream? During sleep, our body relaxes and gains strength. But the brain continues to work, because it controls the work of all the organs. It analyzes the information accumulated by the person during the day, so a healthy person should dream every day. But he may just not remember them.

Blind people also dream. Just in their dreams, instead of some images, there will be smells or sensations.

So, it’s okay to dream every night. And also, for dreams to be pleasant, try to rest before going to bed, turning off the phone, computer and television, and think only about pleasant things.

Why people don’t dream

  • Fatigue. The reason people don’t dream is often attributed to sound sleep when they are exhausted. Your brain is trying to get rid of mental or physical overexertion so it can’t generate dreams.
  • Uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Dreams stop if the person is in an uncomfortable position, lying on an overly hard or overly soft bed. Such conditions interfere with the processing of information and emotions that the person received during the day, and turn them into colorful images.
  • Sleeping pills. The work of sleeping pills is aimed at partially shutting down the brain and allowing it to relax. Nerve impulses are blocked, and the person does not get into a rapid cycle.
  • Stress. Dreams will not occur if the day before you were very nervous and received a spectrum of negative emotions. This is because with nervous tension, a person does not enter the rapid phase of sleep.
  • Illnesses. A person may not dream or may simply not remember them if there are certain health problems. Heart and nervous system diseases, respiratory problems or general malaise against any pathology are directly related to the lack of dreams.

How to remember dreams

One reason it is difficult to remember the content of sleep is because the brain chemical associated with memory, noradrenaline, and the electrical activity of the brain that helps you remember are at their lowest levels when you are asleep.

A person quickly forgets a dream if he wakes up abruptly in the morning and begins rushing to get ready for work. In a hurry, when it is necessary to have time to do many things in a short time, the dream is simply erased from memory. We may not remember our dreams, but it is believed that people see them from 3 to 6 times a night.

About 95 percent of dreams are forgotten when a person gets out of bed.

To remember your dreams, you need in the morning, without distraction from other things (without getting out of bed and thinking about anything else), write in a notebook or on your phone everything that happened in a dream. You can make a special diary in which to write your dreams every day.

Also, figurative thinking works well. If there is no time to write the information, you can try to remember the key moments of sleep, linking them to some events from real life, coming up with memorable associations. Even easier in the morning to write the story of your dream on a dictaphone.

How to get rid of nightmares and why they happen?

Frightening dreams, if they occur rarely, can even be useful because they help the body fight stress. If such dreams become constant, this is a definite signal from the body.

Nightmares are sometimes a consequence of real-life problems, especially if the unpleasant situation extends over a long period. This reflects a person’s inner feelings, conflicts, and pain.

If nightmares occurred after the death of a loved one, an accident or other stressful events, it may be difficult to get rid of them alone and require the help of psychologists.

Also, nightmares can accompany a person during depression, fatigue, or illness. It is possible to get rid of them by visualizing scenes from the dream that cause the most acute negative reaction. These scenes should be changed by replaying the scene positively.

Exercise during the day, a hot bath before going to bed and not eating too much just before going to bed will help to improve the quality of sleep.

Why do I often have nightmares when I have a fever?

There are two explanations for this phenomenon.

1. The sharp rise in temperature during an acute infection can make its “edits” in the brain, provoking the appearance of nightmares, and in rare cases, hallucinations. However, it is believed that the nerve cells are more likely to be affected by intoxication than by the fever itself.

2. The fever makes sleep more intermittent, forcing the patient to wake up more often, including the rapid phase of sleep, when vivid and sometimes frightening dreams appear. Healthy people are also known to have regular nightmares in their sleep, but they do not remember them as they safely continue sleeping.

By the way, there is a hypothesis that frequent awakenings at high temperatures are an adaptation mechanism that prevents excessive heat loss.

Do our pets dream?

Dreams occur during the rapid sleep phase, which not only humans have but also mammals and birds.

When a cat or dog in a dream twitches its paws, meows, barks or growls, it means that this is a typical scenario for the animal (chasing prey, fighting with the enemy, etc.).

The only thing that has not yet been established is exactly how the dream manifests itself. Do animals see dreams the way people see them, or at this point they simply switch on their usual reactions?

It is interesting that the REM sleep stage (this is the stage when dreams are best remembered) lasts longer in predators than in victims. For example, in cats it takes 20% of all sleep time, but in rabbits it takes only 3%.

What factors can affect the content of sleep


Certain sounds can affect your dreams in different ways. There are even specially designed apps. They include certain sounds, depending on what dreams you want.

Some psychologists say that if you want to see in your dreams the fulfillment of your dreams, play your favorite music album. Preferably, you should choose a quiet song. It is unlikely that you will be able to fall asleep to energetic music. If you want to move to the beach at the moment of sleep, turn on the noise of the ocean.

For a peaceful sleep, it is recommended to include white noise. It drowns out other sounds around you and should improve your sleep.


Several years ago, there were studies that proved the importance of smells for dreams. After waking up, subjects were asked what they were dreaming about. Those who had a room with the smell of roses dreamed a positive dream, and the room with the smell of rotten eggs negative.

Psychologists explain this because if the smell of flowers, chocolate or perfume during waking causes positive emotions, then when a person is asleep, these smells will also contribute to positive dreams.

Sleep position

Studies have shown that if, for example, a person sleeps on their stomach, it can cause erotic dreams.

And it is also known that the best way to remember the content of a dream is to stay in the same position that you were in when you woke up. And if you wake up to go to the bathroom and want to get back into the same dream, try to go back to the position you slept in before getting up.

Mental State.

Your state of mind - what’s going on with you and around you - has a tremendous impact on your dreams.

  • For example, depression can affect the color palettes of dreams. If you have a dream in black and white or with muted colors or shades of gray, it may be a sign of depression.
  • The weather that you dream about is also related to your mood. Anxiety brings a tornado. A clear, calm mind sees sunny days in dreams. Depression and sadness can create rain in your dreams.

Many of the mysteries of dreams are still unsolved. Dreams are hard to study in the lab, but technology and new research methods can help us understand them better.

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