Let me tell you a true story. It was a sunny day in July. I was swimming in the lake up north with my sisters when I felt something grab my ankle. I look down and realize I’m being attacked by a shark. I tried to break free but I was being pulled down. No one could see me as I struggled for a single breath. Blood started gushing out of my foot as I got dizzy and went under… I woke up in a cold sweat as I realized it was just a dream.
My dream helped me process my emotions of getting attacked by a shark. I knew how unrealistic that was. This is one of the many benefits to dreaming, along with many others. Over the past few weeks, I have been studying how dreaming benefits all of us. Every night I have various dreams and I started to notice how it helps me in my daily life.
Everyone has healthy dreams. That means that every single person here has dreamed. Your dreams can help you in many ways, and it’s important to know how, so that you can use it to encourage a more healthy lifestyle. Dreaming during sleep has many benefits, including faster and easier learning, help in processing emotions, and strengthening your memory. The first way that dreaming benefits you is by helping you learn faster and easier. I’m sure that most of you know REM sleep, or rapid eye movement is primarily the time of night when you dream.
The body cannot move, your eyes start moving fast, blood flow to the brain increases, and more. When you are in REM sleep, you are dreaming. A California report from 2009 showed that those who entered REM sleep performed 40% better than those who did not dream on creative problem-solving tasks given to them before sleep.
Dreaming is proven to increase creative problem-solving skills. In a Harvard Medical School Study, people were given a virtual maze to go through, and then a napping period, and others were given no time to nap. When the nappers woke up, those who reported dreaming about the maze did six times better on the maze than those who did not dream about it and those who did not nap at all. The second way dreaming can benefit you is by helping you process emotions.
Dreaming can help you face your fears and respond better to stressful situations. A study by the neurologist Matthew Walker, consisted of 34 people divided into 2 different groups. They were both shown various pictures including gory pictures of accidents twice, but the first group experienced REM sleep in between the first and second times of seeing the pictures. Both groups were hooked up to MRI’s to measure brain activity. The first group that slept had a much calmer response to the images after REM sleep than the people who didn’t dream. Dreaming can also allow you to have more positive moods. The sleep and dream researcher Rosalind Cartwright showed that “individuals who dream and remember their dreams heal more quickly from depressive moods associated with divorce.” The last way you can benefit from dreaming is by having a better memory.