Everyone dreams, every single night, but almost none of us remember them all. We might remember fragments of them, but generally speaking, 90% of our dreams are lost, but what are they?
Why do we even have dreams?
Shouldn’t we just be sleeping and not thinking anything? Well, there is more to it than that. A dream is what happens when someone falls asleep, and their brain essentially runs free and links/connects all sorts of thoughts, memories and ideas together in a seemingly random chain of events.
The interesting thing is that no one really knows exactly why we dream or what purpose they serve; there are lots of theories but no actual solid reason. Some say that we dream so that our brain can sort out all the thoughts and store memories properly.
There is another theory that dreams are essential to our mental and physical health and that they are the brains way of powering down and processing everything.
No one knows really ‘why’ we dream, but we do know certain things about dreams.
It happens every night, to everyone, but most people just forget them because they are not skilled in dream recall or awareness.
The Stages Of Sleep
In terms of the actual sleep itself, what we know is that the brain undergoes several changes during the night.
You start off with light sleep during which you are still fairly alert and aware, any loud or soft noises will wake you and cause you to sit up. during this stage, the brain produces Beta waves, which are small and fast waves, typical of being awake or still alert.
You then enter a short stage of sleep for about 10 minutes in which the brain produces Theta waves. These are very slow brain waves.
Stage 2 Sleep
After this, there is a stage of sleep called Stage 2 sleep. During this stage, the brain waves are short rapid bursts of rhythm called Sleep spindles, and also during this stage, the body temperature decreases and heart rate begins to slow down.
Delta Wave/Stage 3 sleep
After this, The body enters Delta wave sleep, or Stage 3 sleep. The temperature is drastically lower, heart rate slowed and breathing deep and controlled. The body is preparing for deep and long sleep.
Next is stage 4 sleep, officially called Delta sleep, which is a deeper period lasting 30 minutes.
REM – Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
After stage 4 comes the most important to Lucid Dreaming, REM sleep. REM means Rapid eye movement, and is where the brain becomes very active, the most likely time to have vivid or lucid dreams is in REM sleep.
It’s an unusual part of sleep because as the mind becomes more active, the muscles become more relaxed and paralyzed, meaning that there are times when someone can wake up during REM sleep, for example if they had a vivid nightmare, and yet still be stuck to their bed and unable to move. This can be quite scary for some people, but sleep paralysis is normal and nothing to be worried about.
This can actually cause some people to give up or even not attempt it because it’s too scary. We covered this in the article; Is Lucid Dreaming Scary, and I explained why it’s nothing to worry about.