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What Causes Us to Dream?

Phenomena

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     Our dreams are a way of releasing unexpressed emotions. Generally our dreams can be seen as references to how we felt throughout the day. Our brain will create a scene that is almost metaphorical from our real life. If someone became extremely angry or upset by something during the day but held their emotions in, it would later be expressed in their dreams. Also, if they continue to reminisce or have the same issue come up again, it will cause them to have repetitive dreams. 
    We have dreams for the purpose of replenishing our brains. People suffering from depression often ponder conflicts or unhappy thoughts. By doing this they cause themselves to be mentally and physically exhausted because their brains are unable to express their emotions in a dream situation. However, people with depression aren't the only ones with unhappy thoughts. When an average person has an unhappy thought in real life it is often expressed in a nightmare.

Nightmares:
  A Nightmare is a frightening dream caused by repressed unhappy thoughts. Many people can recall their nightmares more often than their regular dreams because they are startled by them. It is a common mistake to think children are the only people who have nightmares and that they eventually grow out of them (Schulze).  Studies have shown that approximately five out of eight adults have nightmares. The main difference is that adults tend to handle nightmares more easily than children. A "night terror," however, is something that occurs only in young children.

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  Night terrors, also known as "Pavor Nocturnus," are extremely different from a nightmare. Not only are night terrors more terrifying, but they also occur at different times than a nightmare. A nightmare occurs during REM sleep, but a night terror occurs during non-REM sleep. When a night terror occurs, it is caused by the child getting caught between sleep stages. This has been found to mainly occur in children with any type of breathing disorder. During a night terror, the child's heart rate and blood pressure increase a great deal. Also, their eye's will be completely open and they will scream and flail their arms. Some children will even get out of bed and run around during a night terror. If a child is prone to night terrors, they occur around the same time every night. This means that the child can be woken up at the typical time of a night terror and prevent it from happening. After the age of five children will have less and less night terrors untill they eventually stop all together(schulze).

Sleepwalking:

  Sleepwalking is also known as "Somnambulism." Research has shown that sleepwalking occurs during stages three and four. For this reason, the person doing the sleepwalking will have no recollection of it later on. Although most people think sleepwalking is when someone who is sleeping gets up and walks around, it is much more than that. Sleepwalking is a form of a sleep disorder. When we dream our bodies produce a chemical that paralyzes us. People who sleepwalk have a deficiency of this chemical which causes them to move around while they are dreaming and act out the dream that is occuring in their minds. Also, there are different types of sleepwalking episodes. Some people will sit up and talk in their sleep. This is considered a mild form of sleepwalking. Other symptoms include; talking, muttering unrecognizable words, and speaking in made-up words. When children sleepwalk they tend to get out of bed and urinate in strange places. When someone is sleepwalking they can point, move their feet, and get up and walk around. They can also open windows and doors. Generally, sleepwalking occurs towards the begging of the night or at early hours of the morning. It is often present in young children and stops around the age of twelve or thirteen. However, if a child doesn't start sleepwalking untill they are around the age of nine, they will likely continue to do so into their adulthood. Studies have shown that approximately 18% of the population sleepwalks. It has also been discovered that sleepwalking is more common in boys than in girls. Sleepwalking is often genetic and can also be dangerous. Because the person doing the sleepwalking isn't aware of what's going on, they could trip over things, fall down stairs, and even travel long distances outside their house. (Standford.edu).

Information obtained and presented by Nicki McFarlane