Research of Dreaming - Oneirology
The research of dreaming is known as oneirology and is a field of inquiry which tends to span neuroscience, psychology as well as literature. The reason why one tends to dream is a mystery. However, it has not stopped scientist from researching and coming up with some great hypothesis. Science has made tremendous progress in the understanding of `dreaming’ but tend to speculate on `why do we dream’. Many theories have been explored and while some of the scientists speculate that dreaming does not have any direct function, but is a consequence of other biological processes which tend to take place during sleep. Several who study sleep and dreams are of the belief that dreaming serves a primary purpose. And theories of dreaming cover scientific disciplines from psychiatry and psychology to neurobiology. Some of the theories recommend that dreaming is –
- A form and component of memory processing which aids in the consolidation of learning and short term memory to long term memory storage
- Extension of waking consciousness, reflecting the experiences of waking life
- A means by which the minds tends to work through the difficult, complicated together with unsettled thoughts, emotions and experiences, in achieving psychological as well as emotional balance.
- The brain responds to biochemical changes as well as electrical impulses which may occur at the time one sleeps
- A form of consciousness which combines past, present and the future in processing information from the first two and prepare for the third.
- A protective act by the brain in preparing itself to face threats, danger and the challenges.
Dreams Susceptible to Disturbance
Similar to sleep, dreams are susceptible to disturbances from problems with the mental and the physical health and there are various conditions which could affect dreams and that would make dreams quite disturbing and difficult. Anxiety and depression often go together with nightmares and the occurrence of nightmares could be a sign of the harshness of depression. According to research, with patients with Major Depressive Disorder, the presence of regular nightmares is connected with suicidal tendencies. Those with depression or anxiety are more likely to have stressful, frightening or disturbing dreams and at times in the form of recurring dreams.
Drugs & Alcohol Affect Dreaming
Drugs and alcohol could also affect dreaming where alcohol tends to disrupt the normal, healthy sleep cycle leading to disjointed sleep. Heavy consumption of alcohol too close to bedtime could alter and diminish time spent in Rapid Eye Movement - REM sleep. Studies indicate that alcohol dependency is connected to dreams with more negative emotional content. Marijuana also tends to disrupt and reduce REM sleep and with withdrawal from marijuana and cocaine, it is said to induce strange dreams according to studies. Certain sleep disorders could be supplemented by altering dreaming. Insomnia tends to heighten dream recall, leading to more stressful as well as disturbing dreams.Dreaming is an enduring universal aspect of being human and is something which we tend to do often. Evidence recommends that dreams could assist in daytime functions as well as performances especially when they tend to relate to creativity and in solving problems. Dreams provide some insight about what could trouble us, what could be occupying our mind, our thoughts and emotions and tend to shape use and show who we are.