You will often find yourself reading about the importance of sleep. In fact, it seems like every week there is a fresh report on how eight hours is crucial for good health! I ask, however, what the importance of dreaming is. It’s always interesting to discover the deeper meaning behind your dreams, as it is interesting to discover the deeper importance to the phenomenon we are probably all fascinated with. But what about the actual act of dreaming?
While the ancients considered dreams to be messaged from deities or signs of the future, today many look at them as less supernatural occurrences (that’s not to say everyone looks at them like this). Interpretations of dreams are still popular to investigate and look at, but we’re interested in the science of it all.
REM and Dreaming
First, it’s important to note that most dreaming occurs during REM sleep. As we know, REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, a neurological state characterized by heightening of brain activity, increasing of breathing and heart rate, and a paralyzing of body movement. This is part of a larger, overall process of what scientists believe to be the body’s attempt at personal upkeep or repair.
Interrupting or preventing this repair can be a dangerous thing. Researchers think that sleep not only helps us grow and develop a strong immune system, but it also helps make sure we maintain mental balance. Dreams may carry similar weight – making dream deprivation as serious a problem as sleep deprivation.
According to Dr. Rubin Naiman, author of Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming, and Awakening, dream deprivation or dream restrictive insomnia (DRI sleep) may be the single most important factor in clinical depression. This is largely due to that fact that dream deprivation proves itself t be indicative of larger problems with sleep. Truly, one’s quality of life may be affected by poor dreaming habits, just as it surely would be affects by poor sleeping habits.
As Naiman puts it, “Trying to solve sleep problems without simultaneously addressing dream loss is like trying to manage heart problems through diet while completely ignoring exercise…We are missing a most critical component of healthy nights.”
Reducing Anxiety, Bringing Balance
Although science is still imperfect at explaining dreaming, it’s clear that dreams are a crucial element to healthy living. They are indicative of larger problems in sleep, and if nothing else, provide our bodies an opportunity to perform maintenance on our minds. Above all, though, it’s clear that dreams help bring balance. They provide us with a refreshing taste to the world and sometimes may even provide the motivation to go forward with one’s dreams for life.
Plus, there still is the more holistic approach to dreams that includes there interpretation. In addition to physical and mental health benefits, dreams may be a way our mind, body, or soul communicates with itself, replaying themes in our head to indicate what we are doing right (or wrong) in life. They may also help us define our desires, as well as embarrassments.
Whatever they may be, though, it’s clear dreams are important in living the healthiest life you can.