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Olga's Research Paper

Page history last edited by olga 12 years ago


By Olga




Mammals have been dreaming for millions of years. Dreaming of being chased, falling off high places, and many other escape-the-predator dreams. Dreams show many mysterious images that make people wonder what they are.


Sleep science is traced back to 1875, although scientists started getting interested in sleep science in the 1930s. Scientists studied sleep science that time until they were halted by the advent of World War 2 (1939-1945). But interest in sleep surged again after World War 2 in the early 1950s. Around that time, a man named Richard Coton discovered spontaneous electric activity in the brains of animals. Another man named Eugene Aserinksy, who was a graduate student in physiology, discovered in 1952 that rapid eye movement, also known as REM, in humans during sleep meant that they were dreaming.


During sleep, the brain seems to be reviving information that has recently been stored. The brain also flushes toxic chemical wastes that build up in the brain during the day. A structure in the brain called the pineal gland releases a hormone called melantonin into the bloodstream, which prepares the body for sleep.


The limbic system is the main part in the brain that controls emotions. When humans are in REM and the brain’s emotional memory kicks into high gear, it constructs the dream by piecing together images, and it, in some way, is associated with the person's emotion by the end of the day. Structures in the limbic system are more highly activated during REM sleep than in sleeping, and because of this, logical thinking is nearly shut down.


Here is a chart with the average percentage of dream emotions.


Dream emotions

36% joy/elation

24% surprise

17% anger

11% anxiety/fear

10% sadness



People who suffer depression have their first period of REM earlier in the night than people who don’t suffer depression. Dreams that people who suffer depression report that their dreams are surprisingly lacking in emotion of any kind. As a depressed person’s night wears on, their dreams become progressively more negative. Because their dreams are negative, depressed people often wake up more depressed.


The majority of dreams during REM sleep are filled with motion, especially walking or running. Our ancestors had predators so they often dreamt of being chased and other frightening situations. Human dreaming is far more sophisticated and complex than animal dreaming. Nonetheless, dreaming roots in that basic animal mode can be seen in humans worldwide.


There’s something called “lucid dreaming”; when you’re lucid dreaming, you are aware that you are dreaming, and have some control over your dreams. Sometimes you can change the dream by replacing it with your own image. Many times you can have control over your nightmares if you stand up to them.


Nightmares, especially repetitive ones, are commonly experienced by people who’ve been through the horrors of war, auto accident, or other trauma. Over a period of time, the trauma starts to disappear in dream life and goes back to normal. Here are some examples of nightmares based on fear in the waking world. A woman who thinks she’s being a bad mother dreams that her son is left alone and a big cat is clawing him, killing him. Another example comes from a Vietnam war veteran, who used to open up bags with corpse. He dreamt that the last bag he opened had his body. Sometimes if you stand up to your nightmares, they change. Sometimes if you think of changing images in a nightmare, they become your image.


Different people have different dreams. Women have dreams about women 50% and men 50%. Men have dreams about women 30% and men 70%. Both genders have more misfortune than good fortune dreams. Americans ranked highest for aggression in dreams… 50% for U.S. males (34% females) versus 29% Swiss men and 32% Dutch men. It seems that because of this, the American society kills more than Swiss and Dutch.


If you want to recall dreams better, get into your most comfortable sleeping position and remind yourself a few times that you will be dreaming and you intend to remember your dreams. When you wake up, immediately ask yourself what you were just dreaming, without shifting your position or allowing general waking thoughts to creepy in yet. If a single dream scene sticks to your mind, try to remember what game before and after, think of what else you saw, who the characters were, what your mood was. Keep a journal in your nightstand to jot down whatever you remember. Better than a journal, you should use a voice-activated tape recorder, so you don’t have to move at all. People who wake up a lot at night because of disorders remember dreams better than many normal people. To recall dreams, it’s best to drink a lot before you go to sleep so you need to get up a lot and record your dreams! Simply having an interest in dreams and a motivation for recalling them helps you recall dreams, and working on improving your memory of dreams during weekends or anytime you sleep late also will increase your odds of success.


In conclusion, dreams show many mysterious images, but they are mostly fragments of recent memory that our brain is trying to organize. When humans dream, especially when we dream of moving a lot, our eyes move rapidly. Humans have more misfortune than good fortune in dreams, and our emotions in dreams affect our emotions in real life and vice versa!






Works cited


Olga Redko


My father, 2012


http://www.psychwww.com/asc/ld/faq.html, 1990


Sleeping and Dreaming

Publisher: Marvin Rosen, 2006


The mind at night

  Publisher: Andrea Rock, 2004

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