The most common questions we get from visitors to SleepBetter.org are about dreams. It’s not surprising, as they are rather mysterious even to the experts. We asked some of the most common questions to Dr. Neil Kline from the American Sleep Association (ASA).
Why do we dream?
Dr. Kline: Although there is much that we know about sleep and sleep disorders, there are still many mysteries. It is not known why we dream. One theory is that dreams occur as a way for our brain to consolidate or program memories. Dreams usually occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) period of sleep. This stage of sleep is very different than non-REM sleep.
How often do we dream?
Dr. Kline: We usually have about five periods of REM sleep during the night. The most intense and the longest REM sleep period is right before we wake up in the morning.
Why do some people remember dreams but others don’t?
Dr. Kline: It all comes down to when we wake up. If we awaken immediately after or during a REM sleep period, we are more likely to recall those dreams.
What does it mean when you start remembering seemingly ALL of your dreams?
Dr. Kline: Most people do not remember their dreams. However, everyone has REM Sleep. REM sleep is an essential part of normal sleep health. When it seems like we remember many dreams per night, it may indicate that we’re waking throughout the night. This should be discussed with a physician.
How can I stop dreaming so much?
Dr. Kline: We know that everyone dreams about the same amount per night, and while it’s possible, it’s inadvisable to use medicinal means to eliminate REM sleep. Studies have demonstrated that when you selectively deprive a subject of REM sleep during one night, they have a rebound effect in which they have more REM sleep during the second night. This suggests that REM sleep is an essential part of normal sleep.
Dr. Neil Kline is a representative of American Sleep Association. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine. For more information on the ASA, visit their website.