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Cracking the code

The analytics of dreams and their meanings

Danielle Elliott, Business Manager

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     According to Harvard University, “[Humans] are programmed to sleep each night as a means of restoring our bodies and minds.” Sleeping and waking is controlled by the brain stem but as soon as we fall asleep, the rest of our brain takes over and our body has a chance to rest and to explore its creative side through dreams.

Stages of sleep

     Experts say sleep cycles are about ninety minutes long, but we only dream for about 10 minutes. Our sleep cycles get longer as the night progresses. The first cycle may be between seventy to one-hundred minutes. After that, they are usually about ninety to one-hundred and twenty minutes totaling to about 4-5 cycles a night. People who suffer from Insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep which can throw off their sleep cycles.

     According to Tuck Sleep, humans go through four stages of sleep throughout one sleep cycle.

  1. Light sleep: One will doze in and out of sleep and can be easily awakened. Eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. Muscle contractions may be experienced and can be felt like you’re falling. This is an involuntary muscle spasm and is known to be a “kick start” into sleeping that may startle you into waking up.
  2. Eye movement stops and brain waves become slower and constant. The body prepares for deep sleep. Your temperature drops and your heart rate slows.
  3. Deep sleep: People may experience sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep talking, and bed wetting. These are known as parasomnias and occur between non-R.E.M. and R.E.M. sleep. During rapid eye movement sleep, the brain mimics the activity during the wakened state. The eyes remain closed but dart from side-to-side perhaps related to a dream. Dreams are most vivid during stages 3 and 4.
  4. Deep sleep continues: People awakened during this stage may feel disoriented. This stage is responsible for the most restorative sleep.

What are dreams?

     In Greek mythology, dreams were seen to be messages delivered to us while we were asleep by the Greek god Morpheus. Morpheus was known to “paint in a white and black coat with a horn and ivory box of dreams of the same colors to signify good and bad.”

Why do(n’t) we dream?

     Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers them. Anything that captures our attention immediately after waking can cause you to forget your dream. In fact, Scientific America says that we forget ninety-five percent of our dreams within 5 minutes of waking. Our dreams we are most likely used to remember specific events of to bring something in our life to bring something to our attention.

Types of dreams

     Humans spend about seventy to one-hundred and twenty minutes a day daydreaming or fantasizing.

     Lucid dreaming occurs when you “wake up” while dreaming. You will become aware that you are asleep while some people can then control what happens in the dream.

     Like lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis is when you “wake up” while you’re asleep and can’t move. A feeling of panic usually occurs as you can’t talk or move.

     Nightmares are often very vivid dreams that cause you to wake up abruptly with a racing heart and shortness of breath. Nightmares can reflect actual trauma or an unresolved crisis in our daily life. They can also be a wakeup call to learn to let go. Nightmares can be a safe place for scary ideas to be expressed.

     Sometimes our dreams are just random thoughts or ideas we have but they can also have a deeper meaning. Reoccurring dreams force consciousness on a particular subject that you may fail to acknowledge while you’re awake. Depending on what the dream actually consists of, these too can be used as a wake up call.

Students dreams are explained

     If you’ve ever had a weird dream that defied explanation, junior Kyra Smythe knows the feeling.

     “I’ve always remembered a dream I had where I had to protect a mermaid from being killed by my friend’s cyborg boyfriend,” Smythe said. “But then I turned into the mermaid and I ended up having to protect myself.”

     Experts say that understanding dreams is not always clear cut.

     “[Dream interpretation] is mostly discussing the dream with the person, finding out the feelings behind what is created by the dream, and exploring how to address these feelings that are brought up,” NHS psychologist Jamie Johnson says. “It is really, really individualized to the person. Common “meanings” can be found on some websites but it is usually about as valid as a horoscope and usually are just for fun.”

     According to dreammoods.com, dreaming about a mermaid could symbolize a mysterious female in one’s life or a doubt in one’s femininity. Dreaming of protecting someone could represent responsibility or a secret while dreaming of needing protection could indicate that you are feeling helpless about some situation in life.

     “I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’d like to know from a professional,” Smythe jokes.

 

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