The Health Benefits of Dreaming for Happiness and Peace of Mind
The Main Point: Dreaming is more than a fantastical escape during sleep — it plays a crucial role in cognitive development, stress management, creativity, and overall well-being.
By experiencing REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and dreaming, we not only provide our bodies the rest they need, but we also put our subconscious minds to work, unlocking novel approaches to daily challenges and enhancing our overall quality of life.
Why it matters for YOU: Dreaming isn't just an interesting night-time experience; it aids in processing memories, boosting creativity, and building emotional resilience. Engaging in REM sleep and dreaming is vital for overall mental health and can enhance your daily life in surprising ways.
- Stat Line: One source writes that, “According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans spend more than two hours dreaming each night (with the most vivid dreams occurring during REM sleep). Rats deprived of that precious REM sleep for four days produce fewer nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center. Among humans, dreaming may also help alleviate depression.”
- Quotable: Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., told the NSF that dreams are the way the brain "incorporates memories, solves problems and deals with emotions. In this way, dreams are essential for our emotional health."
- But how…? By achieving REM sleep, the stage where dreaming occurs, the body stops producing stress hormones and creates conditions for mental rejuvenation. This state allows the mind to wander and make connections, potentially unlocking creativity and aiding emotional balance.
- And why…? Dreaming isn't just a random occurrence; it's a crucial part of healthy sleep patterns. It can assist in untangling complex memories, providing insights into daily life, and arming you with new approaches to challenges.
- Analogy: Dreaming is like a “nightly therapy session,” where the mind lies down on the proverbial couch and hashes out the day's complexities. Just as therapy can provide insights and emotional growth, dreaming allows us to process, heal, and creatively approach our waking lives.
- One-Sentence Summary: Dreams, happening during the REM sleep stage, are a fundamental aspect of our sleep, contributing to cognitive development, creativity, emotional well-being, and offering a unique window into the unconscious mind.
Case in point: In one sleep center study, healthy young adults were split into two different groups and watched a series of emotionally charged images within an MRI scanner. A dozen hours later, the individuals were exposed to the same emotional images, but half of the participants slept in the interim. Those who got sleep in between “reported a significant decrease in how emotional they felt in response to seeing those images again, and their MRI scans showed a significant reduction in reactivity in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain that creates painful feelings.”
- For the skeptics: A researcher involved noted that “there was a reengagement of the rational prefrontal cortex of the brain after sleep that helped maintain a dampening influence on emotional reactivity. In contrast, those who remained awake across the day showed no such dissolving of emotional reactivity over time.”
What to do: Consider a few steps to enhance your sleep hygiene and ensure that you reach REM sleep each night for great sleep (and sweet dreams!).
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine before bed to make sure that you’re not fighting the urge to stay awake while you lie in bed.
- Create a relaxing pre-sleep routine to wind down and relax into your cool organic sheets every night.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress that supports your body (and mind) for the most relaxing sleep and peaceful dreams.
Next steps: Visit us at SLEEP365® in the Bay Area and surrounding areas for luxe-casual organic latex mattresses to get a great night’s sleep every single night. Click here to see all our locations and find the one nearest you, or click here to schedule a Virtual Visit from home.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult a physician or medical professional when making decisions that affect your own or your family’s health and well-being.