Meaghan McAuliffeMrs. BertolottiRWR Period 911 December 2017 Dreams and Nightmares Twigs snap and leaves crunch under your feet as you run through the dark, seemingly never ending woods. Your chest burns and you struggle to catch your breath as you look behind you to find the hooded man is still chasing after you. You trip over a branch and scream for your life. The man removed his hood, revealing his face…it’s you teacher telling you your essay is due tomorrow. You jerk awake, finding yourself in the comfort of your own bed. It was all just a dream. But what causes your brain to create these scenarios, and how?Dreams can occur at almost any point of sleep, but those often strange, bizarre dreams that everyone experiences every so often normally occurs during a stage of sleep called the REM phase. But, even before the brain enters the REM stage, your heart rate goes down, your temperature drops, and your brain processes the days events as you drift asleep, according to the article ¨The Facts About Dreams¨ by Kristyn Kusek Lewis. The brain will flash through thoughts, experiences, and memories from the day. It’s unlikely to remember these dreams, and they normally happen extremely fast. These sorts of dreams don’t normally have much meaning behind them, as it’s basically just your brain reliving the day in fast motion. But, eventually when you reach the REM phase, those quick flashes of memories can be incorporated into our brains train of thought in a much more complex way. After your brain has processed and drifted off into a deeper state of sleep, the brain and body enters the REM phase. The author of article ¨The Facts About Dreams¨ says that, ¨after about 90 minutes, you fall into the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, where vivid, often surreal dreams occur¨. Here, dreams seem to be more complex, meaningful, and have more of a story-like quality, rather than just re-experiencing your day. This is most likely due to certain parts of your brain being active at this time such as the amygdala, responsible for processing emotions, and the hippocampus, which processes and stores short term memory. Dreams that have occured at this stage are more likely to be remembered. Depending on the amount of sleep you get, you can go through 4-5 REM stages, but you might not remember all the dreams that occured. Some dreams can last just a few seconds, and some can last up to 30 minutes. Some people believe dreams are just a natural occurrence, while some say dreams are crucial to your mental wellbeing. It has yet to be actually scientifically proven what exactly our dreams mean, but some people do believe that what your brain thinks of while unconcious has profound meaning behind it. Dreams are created by our unconscious mind, meaning we almost never have control over our dreams and where they go within the story lines. Regardless of their true meaning, it is proven that dreams can help us maintain mental health and wellbeing, and even cope with stress. Since our dreams do consist of memories and emotions you have previously experienced, if there´s something in specific bothering you or something you constantly think about, chances are it´ll show up in a dream, or even a nightmare. When a problem you’ve experienced during the day shows up in a dream, it can be your brain’s way of thinking of a solution, or next step to the problem. In Lauri Loewenberg´s book ¨Dream on It¨, she says that ¨through our dreams- we speak to ourselves about what is going on in our lives, we guide ourselves through difficult situations, and we point ourselves towards what we really, truly and deeply need to live the life we are meant to live¨. She explains that if you understand your dream, it’s our brain’s way of being brutally honest, without our conscious waking mind refusing to believe or interrupting. Dreams are generally hard to understand it´s significance, but certain psychologists can help you find the symbolic message behind your dream. Some even believe that you should take your dreams seriously, and actually take them into consideration in real life. For example, a man named Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, actually got his idea from a violent dream he’d had. Supposedly in his dream, he was forced to create a sewing machine, and he actually ended up creating it in real life. Hundreds of years later, we have the sewing machine to thank for the clothes we wear today. Although this could just be a coincidence, many believe that this dream was actually his brain’s way of finding a solution to producing clothes in Howe’s time of slow, inefficient factory producing. No matter what people believe dreams may actually mean, they happen to everyone, whether you remember them or not. Sometimes they’re just quick flashes of memories from your waking life, and sometimes they’re long and complex. Whether or not you believe that your dreams have significance is up to you, and with the help of psychologists, you can even find out what your brain’s true hidden desires are, or it´s solutions to problems without your conscious mind in the way.