We all dream even though we might not remember them the next morning. But why do we dream?
There are a number of theories of why we dream but nobody knows for sure. Experts say you can have about 6 dreams a night but our most vivid dreams occur during the REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) patterns.
What researchers do know for sure is that dreaming is important for a healthy state of mind and well being.
In a dream study, candidates were woken up just before REM sleep.
Some of the symptoms suffered were;
- increased anxiety
- weight gain
- co-ordination problems
Other studies suggested it was to process emotions, consolidate memories and solve problems.
Sigmund Freud believed that dreams represented unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. Freudian theory is that the unconscious mind governs behavior to a greater degree than people suspect.
But can Dreams predict the future?
Studies are divided. When a dream comes true it can either be coincidence or alternatively a subconscious thought tying into known information.
In some Prodromal Dream studies, dreams have been very important in warning the body of physical health issues. When our immune system is low our sleep changes to accommodate for the illness. In these instances we dream differently.
These can be helpful warning signs, where we might take action to increase supplements to help with an onset of flu or they can be an early detection of something more serious.
A well known account is in van Decastle’s "Our Dreaming Mind” a women had:
“Recurrent nightmares of dogs tearing at her stomach a few months before she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She died three months after the diagnosis was made.” (p. 366)
Another possibility is that prodromal dreams will incorporate a memory from the past from a time when you were also ill:
One man who had suffered from severe inflammation of the eyes while in Egypt, suddenly began, 10 years later, to dream regularly of scenes from Egypt. He could not explain these Egyptian dreams, but soon after their appearance he again developed inflammation of his eyes. (Manaceine, 1897, cited in Van de Castle, 1994).
There is also evidence that prodromal dreams can point to the area of Cancer:
A breast cancer patient dreamed that her head was shaved with the word "cancer" written on it. Three weeks later, she received the diagnosis that the cancer spread to her brain. (Siegel, 1983, cited in Van de Castle, 1994)
In Neurological research, violent and aggressive dreams especially when acted out, was an early warning sign for Alzheimers and Parkinsons. These dreams can sometimes detect these neurological illnesses in some cases 10 years in advance.
If we could train ourselves to remember, or be more aware when the content of our dreams change, we might develop an ability to detect physical illness before it manifests. In this case Dreams can be more important to your health and well being than we realise.