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 SleepEducation.com.
Image by Cornelia Kopp