Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Do We Dream?

A new paper suggests that the purpose of dreams may be more than just psychological.

Author Dr. J. Allan Hobson proposes a “theory of protoconsciousness.” He is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Hobson writes that REM sleep provides “a virtual reality model of the world.” Most dreams occur during this
sleep stage.

He thinks that dreams have a functional use. They allow the brain to get tuned up for wakefulness.

“It helps explain a lot of things, like why people forget so many dreams,” Hobson
told the New York Times. “Dreams are tuning the mind for conscious awareness.”

This dream theory fits within his broader concept of the purpose of sleep. He summarized his perspective in the title of
a 2005 paper: “Sleep is of the brain, by the brain and for the brain.”

Recently Hobson was the co-author of
a study in the journal Sleep that investigated lucid dreaming. Results suggest that lucid dreaming is a “unique, hybrid state of sleep;” it involves features of both REM sleep and wakefulness.

In 2008 Hobson and colleagues explored similarities between the normal mental state of dreaming and the abnormal mental state of psychosis. They
reported that normal dreaming and schizophrenic thinking share a common degree of “cognitive bizarreness.”

Other dream theories abound: Dreams depict your emotions. They reflect the issues and concerns of your life. They act as a defense mechanism by simulating waking threats.

Read more about
interpreting dreams and why we sleep on the Sleep Education Blog. Learn more about dreams and nightmares on

Image by Cornelia Kopp

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think that it is cool to dream exept when u wake up every time in the middle of the night thinking ur child stoped breathing or u forgot to give her medications

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