In your dreams: the REM cycle decoded

I have a recurring dream. I’m always running, being chased by something. I will run through backyards, hop fences, run through stranger’s homes, all to avoid who/what I am running from. And I never stop and hide. Always running.
Or that one dream where my teeth fall out. Creepy.

Do you ever have recurring dreams? Or do you wake up in the morning, knowing you dreamed about something, but cannot place your finger on it. Or do you remember dreams the minute you wake up only to forget them minutes later?

Dreams fascinate us mostly because we do not understand them. A popular morning radio show I used to listen to featured a weekly segment called the “Dream Zone” where a dream ‘expert’ decoded listeners dreams.

So here is the anatomy of a dream. You sleep is stages, each one deeper than the other. Your best sleep for refueling is when you are a deep sleep. One of the stages is called the REM cycle, where your brain is just as active as if you were awake but the rest of your body is inactive. This is where you do most of your dreaming. It is called the REM cycle because you go through this cycle anywhere between three to five times a night.

What are dreams? Are they insights to your personality? Repressed memories surfacing to haunt us at night? Experts really are not sure what dreams are exactly, but it is a point where emotions and memories/experiences collide. Dreams change when your body and mind are stressed, past experiences relive again in our dreams to help with long term memory. But the exact purpose of dreams is unknown.

Why can’t you remember your dreams? The crazy thing is most people dream a few times a night and often might not remember any of them. And remembering them might have something to do with the cycles. If you wake up closer to the end of a dream cycle, you are more likely to remember your dream. And believe it or not, kids remember dreams more often because the REM cycle diminishes as we age.

How do I get rid of recurring nightmares? Adults who suffer from the same nightmare (like me getting chased) often gets these dreams because of stress in our lives when we are awake. Dream therapists think that our mind is trying to figure out the stressor in our lives and how to master it.

When are my dreams a problem? Dreams should not affect your day to day life and sleeping habits. However, if you are having consistent dreams that make it hard for you to get a good night’s rest, or are interfering in your daily life. It might be time to get your very cheap health insurance and visit your doctor. Certain medications can be affecting your dreams, and your doctor can correct dosages. If that is not the problem, you might need to visit a therapist to find any underlying mental problems that may be haunting your dream.