The Four Stages of Sleep.
When attempting to analyze and interpret your dreams, it is important to know that every human being, of every age, and from every part of the world, dreams anywhere from four to seven times each and every night. There is even evidence that babies experience dream sleep while still in their mother’s womb. What they dream about, of course, is a mystery. What animals dream about is a mystery as well, but most mammals dream as well.
The sleep cycle is divided into four distinct stages, and every person cycles through all four stages each and every night. Every cycle contains a stage of dream sleep, and every person experiences a number of distinct dream stages, and a number of distinct dreams every night.
Typically the only dreams that are recalled, if any are recalled at all, are those dreams that take place closest to waking. The closest the dream occurs to waking, the more likely it is to be remembered. If a dreamer is woken in the middle of dream sleep, he or she will remember his or her dream perfectly and vividly in even the tiniest detail. We know this from years of studies of dreams.
You may be surprised to know that science is still unsure of the exact function of dream sleep. We do know, however, that dreams are absolutely essential to our psychological and physical health. Research volunteers given drugs to disrupt dream sleep experienced all manner of psychological problems, including problems concentrating, irritability and even waking hallucinations.
Let’s explore the four stages of sleep, including dream sleep, in greater detail.
The first stage of sleep is a very light one, and it is very easy to be awoken or disturbed during this stage. Stage one of sleep usually lasts for only a few minutes, and the sleeper quickly moves on to stage two.
Stage two is a much deeper level of sleep than stage one. It is in stage two of sleep that dreams begin to form. At this point in the dream cycle, there are usually no clear images. Dreams at this stage mostly consist of vague ideas and thoughts drifting through the dreamer’s mind. The sleeper will continue and enter stage three.
Stage three is a still deeper sleep. In stage three of the sleep cycle the sleeper’s muscles have all relaxed, and his or her heart rate and respiration have both slowed down. The sleeper’s blood pressure also falls during this stage of sleep, and the breathing is even and steady. During this deep stage of sleep, the sleeper would be very difficult to awaken. Typically the sleeper can only be awakened by a very loud noise or the shout of his or her name. After a time, the sleeper will enter the final stage of sleep.
Stage four of sleep, also known as REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, is the deepest stage of sleep, and the one in which the most dreams occur. During this stage of sleep it is very difficult indeed to wake the sleeper. During REM sleep, the blood pressure and heart rate will fluctuate, and the sleeper’s brain will light up. Studies of dreaming patients have shown that more brain activity occurs when we are dreaming than when we are awake.
It is the rapid movements of the eyes under their closed lids that give REM sleep its name, and these eye movements are the distinguishing characteristic of dream sleep, and proof that dreams are occurring. Most REM sleep lasts only for about 10 minutes. After that time, the sleeper returns to the deep sleep that characterizes stage four of the sleep cycle. The sleeper will return after a time to a period of REM sleep, then cycle back into stage four. This process is usually repeated from four to seven times a night.
Facts About Dreams
Dreams have been studied throughout history, and dream interpretation has tried to make sense of these nighttime visitations for as long as their have been people to dream. People who could interpret dreams, and those whose dreams were particularly vivid, where often thought to be imbued with divine powers, and they were given a special place in their societies.
Even today, dream interpretation remains a highly sought after art, and science is continuing to focus on dream interpretation as a way to deal with all kinds of anxieties and other underlying psychological issues.
There are some interesting facts about dreaming that you may not be aware of. These facts include:
- One third of most people’s lives is spent asleep, and a good portion of that time is spent in dream sleep.
- In the average lifetime, a person will have spent approximately six years in dream sleep, equivalent to more than 2,100 days of dreaming.
- Dreams have existed as long as human beings. There are records of dreams going back over 4,000 years.
- Dream interpretation has existed almost as long as dreaming, and Roman senators in the ancient world often engaged the services of dream interpreters before making important political and social decisions.
- Every human being dreams. Even if you do not remember your dreams, you dream between four and seven times a night, every night.
- Many animals dream as well. All mammals are thought to dream, and it is suspected that some lower animals dream as well. What they dream about, however, remains a mystery.
- If people are prevented from dreaming, they suffer a variety of personality disorders and psychological problems. The exact function of dream sleep is still not known, but it is known that dreaming is an indispensable part of life.
- The average person spends two hours per night sleeping, and has from four to seven dreams during that time.
- Even blind people dream. The dreams of blind people who were previously sighted sometimes contain visual images, while the dreams of those who have been blind from birth do not. Vision is not the only component of a dream, however. Dreams also contain sounds, sights, smells and touch sensations.
- Dreams are forgotten very quickly upon waking. It is estimated that 50% of the content of a dream is lost within five minutes of waking, and after 10 minutes as much as 90% of the dream can be forgotten.
- The word dream is derived from a word in Middle English. This word, dreme, translates to “music” and “joy”. It is therefore apparent that dreams have long been looked at as a source of wonder and inspiration.
- Men most often dream about other men, while women tend to dream about men and women equally.
- Studies of brain wave activity have revealed greater activity during dreaming than during waking periods.
- People who are awakened during dream sleep are able to recall their dreams vividly, while those who wait until morning to wake often are not.
- Everyone, men and women, seem to experience sexual arousal during their dreams, regardless of whether or not the content of the dream is overtly sexual.
- Smokers who are trying to quit often report greater intensity in their dreams.
- Studies have shown that toddlers do not dream about themselves. In general, toddlers do not appear in their own dreams until they reach the age of three or four.
- It is impossible to snore and dream at the same time.
- Children commonly experience nightmares, and these nightmares usually begin by the age of three and last until the child is seven or eight years old.
- More than 60% of people surveyed have reported experiencing Déjà vu in their dreams. Déjà vu dreams occur more frequently in women than in men.
Here some recommended books for interpreting your dreams .