What are Dreams?

Dreams are mental experiences, typically in the form of images, ideas, and sensations that come about involuntarily during REM sleep. Dreams can be vivid or vague, realistic or bizarre. They can be pleasant or disturbing and most people have at least one episode of waking up in the middle of the night all drenched in sweat.

While it is easy to provide a definition of a dream, why we actually dream remains one of the science’s greatest unanswered questions, though it has been a topic of study dating as far back as 4000 B.C. Early civilisations saw dreams as messages from the spiritual world filled with revelations about the future and guidance to people. It can be seen e.g. in the Bible’s Book of Genesis in Pharaoh’s upsetting dream of seven lean cows devouring seven fat cows, which was interpreted by Joseph as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.

A number of theories have been put forward as to why we dream. They span scientific fields from neurobiology to psychology, but none is yet definitive. For some researchers dreams are random and meaningless. For others, they serve particular functions, such as memory consolidation, information processing and threat simulation. Although so many scientists are busy working on discovering why we really dream, there may never be a one single theory.

One of the first theorists in modern times to consider dreams was Sigmund Freud. He believed that dreams were the “royal road to the unconscious” representing “disguised fulfilments of repressed wishes“. Although his dream theories have been largely disproved, they still provoke scientists into heated debates and some people still believe that dreams are messages from the unconscious mind and look into them to gain insight into their own lives.


Match dreams 1-3 with the people who dream them a-c.

Dreamers and their dreams

Explanation: see here.

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