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REM sleep and dreams are related, but what is important about them?In the study by William Dement at Stanford University School of Medicine, participants were awaken when they were about to go to REM sleep stage, and Dement concluded that many participants had a psychological problem such as anxiety and irritability (1).The most common thing we all experience during sleep is to dream. This paper is going to explore the function and importance of sleep and dreams as well as their relations to each other. The first four stages are called Non REM (Non Rapid eye movement sleep) when brains are typically in a resting stage.
Lack of sleep is something many of us go through and we experience the consequences when we go against our will with sleep: extreme sleepiness and tiredness during day.
Sleeping is an inevitable everyday activity, but what is so important about this?
Brain activity is generally very low throughout Non REM sleep.
Non REM sleep cycle composes about 80 % of our sleep and usually lasts about 90 minutes.
Many researchers have been trying to find out the functions and symbols of dreams.
Though there are many theories, researchers have not exactly found out the reasons we dream and whether the contents of dreams have directly something to do with our everyday life.When our use of energy amount is considered in terms of the rate of metabolism, slow wave sleep especially the first four stages spends merely 5 to 25 % of the amount we use during day, and slow wave sleep is strongly "associated with conservation of energy" (2).Another theory, the restoration theory, holds two hypotheses, the whole body restoration and the neurological restoration.As it is stated earlier, REM sleep and dreams have a strong connection, because many dreams take place during the REM cycle.Because of the development of technology, many researches can be done by using f MRI and PET these days.For example, it has been said that the hypothalamus, located in the center of the brain, collects messages from certain cells and carry the signal to the pineal gland in the brain.This process causes to produce the "hormone melatonin" which helps the body temperature to go down.Also, another example is raphe nuclei, located in the part of the brain which is in charge of "unconscious activity" such as walking and eating, sends an order to nerve impulses to shut down the brain system.Therefore, falling asleep is not merely a single process but a collective event (3).The third theory, "activation-synthesis hypothesis", proposed by Allan Hobson and Robert Mc Carley in 1970's takes a very different view compared to Freud and Jung.They claim that dream consists of random images which are stored as a memory in our head.