Whether you remember them or not, we all dream for about 2 hours a night and, although dreams are more vivid during the REM phase, they can actually occur during any phase of sleep.
But can the storyline of our dreams really affect the quality of sleep? This surely makes us wonder when we wake up from a pleasant dream feeling relaxed and well rested, or from a chaotic and scary dream feeling anxious.
Why do we dream?
Several theories have tried to explain the role of dreams over time.
According to the well-known psychologist Sigmund Freud whose theories revolved around the concept of the subconscious, dreams are a means to help us “get rid of” suppressed thoughts and desires.
A more recent theory, however, suggests that dreams are necessary to organize and consolidate our memories. A further theory sees dreams as a “physiological tool” for training and preserving neural pathways.
We dream nearly 600 hours a year!
The REM phase is that stage of sleep during which dreams occur. It is characterized by an accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, and involuntary eye movement.
About 25% of sleep occurs during the REM phase and it has been calculated that we spend approximately 600 hours a year dreaming during this phase.
Does having happy dreams mean sleeping well?
The link between dream and sleep quality hasn’t been confirmed yet. However, the experiments conducted revealed that those who sleep well and feel well rested upon awakening confirm they have pleasant and joyful dreams, unlike those who suffer from insomnia and declare they aren’t able to associate positive emotions with their dreams.
“Nightmare hangover”? Dreadful dreams chase us into the following day
According to recent studies, nightmares disturb the sleep of 7-8% of the world’s population at least once a week and 25% of people at least once a month.
For the most part, according to specialists, there are no doubts: nightmares stay with us also after we wake up, affecting our mood and behavior and causing a sort of “nightmare hangover”.
Do dreams change the structure of our sleep?
The storyline of dreams, no matter how unpleasant they may be, don’t affect the duration of the various phases of sleep. However, nightmares can influence the transition from REM to non-REM, making us feel less rested the next morning.
Sleep well and make your dreams come true!
The good news is that although you can’t directly control your dreams and unconscious thoughts, you can certainly improve your mood: create a healthy evening routine before going to sleep and choose a bed that fully satisfies your physical characteristics.
Sleeping well is essential for waking up in the morning with a good energy boost to make your dreams come true!