The Future of Sleep A 85202 Tegan Kearney

safe-dreaming

Fien, E. 2014, A step by step guide to lucid dreaming, Wondergressive, Viewed 27th October 2015, <http://wondergressive.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/safe-dreaming.jpg&gt;

The value we put on sleep has progressively changed throughout our development as a society. Scientific analysis has proven sleep is valuable, however it is evident through a growing number of studies that we are not prepared to leave sleep as a solely natural function as our goal is to reduce the amount of hours needed.

According to Aguirre (2015), sleep is a critical function that heavily impacts our learning, reaction time, mood and memory. Studies within the United States show that 30% of adults and 66% of adolescence are sleep deprived.  Although one of the main drives behind the lack of sleep is our push for economic and societal growth, it is easy to conclude that sleep deprivation is ultimately not the way.

Marcus (2015) states, we have 4 stages of sleep, Stage One and Two, Slow Wave Sleep and three and four are within Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep.  The REM stage is crucial to memory development and is also when dreams take place. Although we know sleep alone is very important, studies show that dreaming while sleeping is even better.

The first evidential record of dreams was during the 3rd Millennium B.C.E, written by the Mesopotamia Kings onto Wax paper.  Although time has passed and technology has advanced we still cannot conclude the reason behind why we dream, but many scientific theories are able to outline the importance of dreaming.

Sleeping is important for both physical and psychological . During the REM cycle, stress neural transmitters are less active, even during traumatic dreams.  Therefore theorists believe that the reviewing of distressing experiences in your dreams may enhance your ability to process them in advanced ways, encouraging psychological healing.  It is also believed people with mental illnesses such as PTSD, who are unable to sleep, are made worse as they are unable to utilise this function.

In 2010 a Harvard Medical School research team produced a complex 3D maze. They concluded that the participants, who dreamt about the maze after their first attempt, were significantly better than those who had napped or not slept at all- theorising that only certain memory processes can occur when asleep.

The 1983 theory of ‘Reverse Learning’ states that the filtering of important memories can only occur in the stage of REM sleep. Due to the complexity of our brains’ memory, we rely on our neurocortex when asleep to filter through and remove any unnecessary memories from the day.  This step is crucial as it allows us to retain beneficial memories.

The ‘Committee of Sleep’, named by John Steinbeck, referees to the allowing of our dreaming mind to create limitless scenarios that it would otherwise bypass when awake.

These dreamt scenarios are also linked with the idea of ‘Rehearsal’. Our memory holds the content of these dreams when it feels important to our practice of flight or fright. Rather than having to experience these less than desirable moment in real life we are able to learn from our dreams.

Although there is no definitive reasoning behind why we dream, we can hope that future technological advances will allow us to monitor our sleep and brain activity during the stages of REM sleep.

Reference:

Benjamin, V. 2010, Study links dreaming to Increased memory performance, Harvard Crimson, Cambridge.

Hoffman, C. 2004, Dumuzi’s dream: Dream analysis in ancient Mesopotamia, In Anthropology Faculty Publications,  Pg 8.

Adkins, A. 2015, Why do we dream?, Ted Ed, viewed 20th August 2016, <http://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-do-we-dream-amy-adkins>

Marcu, S. 2015, The benefits of a good night sleep, Ted Ed, Viewed 20th August, < http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-benefits-of-a-good-night-s-sleep-shai-marcu>

Aguiree, C. 2015, What would happen if you do not sleep? , Ted Ed,Viewed 20th August 2015, <http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-would-happen-if-you-didn-t-sleep-claudia-aguirre>

 

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