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'When we dream, we have the perfect chemical canvas for intense visions'

Lucid dreaming

In lucid dreams, you become aware you’re dreaming. You can take control of the plot. They can be anything from a brief moment where you’re in a nightmare and tell yourself: “this is a dream” and wake up. 

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'When we dream, we have the perfect chemical canvas for intense visions'

'When we dream, we have the perfect chemical canvas for intense visions'

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/14/dreams-perfect-canvas-intense-visions-alice-robb-interview

theguardian.com

7

Key Ideas

Talking about dreams

People are compelled to talk about dreams. It is a natural impulse because dreams are emotional, affect moods, feel profound. 

What is unusual is that we live in a culture where we’re expected to forget our dreams. We have this cliche that it is boring to talk about dreams.

How to remember your dreams

Believe your dreams have value and tell yourself before bed you want to remember them. 

Keep a dream journal. Get into a habit, set things up the night before to reinforce your goal. 

Lucid dreaming

In lucid dreams, you become aware you’re dreaming. You can take control of the plot. They can be anything from a brief moment where you’re in a nightmare and tell yourself: “this is a dream” and wake up. 

Dreams maintain our mental health

Dreams are an opportunity to work through things that frighten us in real life, to play out worst-case scenarios in an environment where they have no consequences. 

The role of dreaming in learning

Dreaming helps us consolidate new memories: we replay salient experiences from the day, reinforcing new pathways in our brains. 

In one study, people enrolled in a French-language intensive course had an increase in REM sleep and dreams while they were studying: their brains were working overtime to master a new language, and that work continued in their sleep.

Why dreams seem surreal

Most dreams are actually less bizarre than people think. When we dream, the logic centres of our brain – the frontal lobes – go dark, and chemicals associated with self-control, like serotonin and norepinephrine, drop. At the same time, the emotion centres light up: we have a perfect chemical canvas for dramatic, psychologically intense visions.

When psychologists analyzed hundreds of dream reports, they found that most of them could have passed for descriptions of the dreamers’ real lives.

Don't neglect your dreams

Dreams offer the opportunity to think in a different way and show new answers to problems, 

They show us blind spots and help us home in on things we might be neglecting in our personal lives.

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Nightmares

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Recurring dreams
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Studies suggest that recurring dreams may contain more threatening content than regular dreams. Research suggests links between recurring dreams and psychological distress in both adults and children.

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People are also thinking more about their dreams, which makes them remember their dreams better.