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The Importance of Dreams

Do you dream in order to sleep or do you sleep in order to dream? Although that question remains debatable, researchers agree that there is a purpose and importance to dreaming.

The sleep cycle repeats itself about an average of four to five times per night, but may repeat as many as seven times. Dreams can occur in any of the four stages of sleep, but the most vivid and memorable dreams occur in the last stage of sleep - Rapid Eye Movement (REM). This is a normal stage of sleep characterised by the random movement of the eyes and is the most restorative part of sleep, when your mind is being revitalised and your emotions fine-tuned. 

REM sleep in adult humans typically occupies 20–25% of total sleep, about 90–120 minutes of a night's sleep. During a normal night of sleep, humans usually experience about four or five periods of REM sleep; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Many animals and some people tend to wake, or experience a period of very light sleep, for a short time immediately after a bout of REM. The relative amount of REM sleep varies considerably with age; a new-born baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM.

In REM sleep, the mind is as active as it is during waking hours; however, chemically it is different. REM is controlled by the excitability level of the cholinergic neurons. Noradrenaline and serotonin are missing in the brain when in the dream state. These chemicals allow the brain to carry out tasks, solve problems and remember things.

Everybody dreams; simply because you do not remember your dream does not mean that you do not dream. In fact, you have several dreams during a normal night of sleep.  On average, you can dream anywhere from one to two hours every night. Moreover, you can have four to seven dreams in one night. Five minutes after the end of the dream, half the content is forgotten. After ten minutes, 90% is lost.

Numerous studies emphasise the importance of dreaming and its role in your well-being and health. Some researchers believe that dreams help you to tackle stress. Dreaming is a necessity and helps to recharge the mind and revitalise the body. 

"Sleep is the best meditation" ~ Dalai Lama


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