If dreams were movies, not even two bucks would be worth it. They are usually banal, boring, and only suitable for one person: what they see. You're in a supermarket that is once a stadium, and you're shopping with your elementary teacher. Then she turns into a hateful cousin and you both turn from a glass quite by accident. Boring, as we said.
Dreams are more complicated than that. The ancient Egyptians thought that dreams were simply another way of seeing, and trained dreamers served to plan battles and make important state decisions. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that dreams were both predictions of the future and visits from the dead.
Freud, however, regarded dreams as an expression of conflict or suppressed desires, which in most cases were of a sexual nature. No wonder we're talking about Freud. Carl Jung watched them with a stricter look. He explained dreams as a kind of "shaped energy", underdeveloped emotions or thoughts that started deep in subliminal and turned into narratives from more active brain areas. Modern psychologists and neurologists, by means of modern devices such as scanners and magnetic resonances, have taken knowledge to a deeper and more technical level. They speculate that dreams are simply the brain's way of filtering out unnecessary information and storing the necessary.
But why are dreams like that? Why do you keep dreaming that you are failing the Matura exam? Why do you dream of flying or being chased by a huge animal? Why do you look like you are ashamed of everyone because you forgot to wear pants before you went out? Why do you dream that someone is dying or getting killed?
The explanation is by no means mysterious or impressive. Dreams really serve to filter the information received, unnecessary information is forgotten and stored valuable. Researchers have long suspected that this process, if true, occurs between the hippocampus (which controls memory) and the neocortex (which controls complex thoughts).
A 2007 study by the Max Planck Medical Institute almost confirmed the above theory. While working with narcotic mice, the researchers found that the neocortex activates during sleep and signals a series of hippocampal regions to load whatever information it has stored in short-term memory. As memories and data are uploaded to different parts of the brain, shards and particles are captured and appear before our eyes as dreams that often resemble their original meaning.
Most of the information collected during the day is forgotten, almost 90% of it. This supports the idea of dreams as a kind of purification from the unnecessary. "We dream of forgetting," wrote 1984's Noel winner Francis Crick.
Crick, in addition to discovering DNA, was a pioneer in the theory of dreams. According to him and psychologist Deirdre Barret of Harvard, dream analysis has a positive effect overall.
Another view by Antti Revonsuo, called Threat Simulation Theory, assumes that the brain responds to potential dangers in the future by creating similar situations in dreams to prepare us. For example, dreams of failing an important exam serve as something to achieve in your professional life and you should not neglect it. Or dreams, as if all teeth fall, are about anxiety and talking where it is not appropriate.
However, Freud must be credited. There are dreams that hide our unfulfilled desires. Dreams when flying are about the desire to be free. Dreams like discovering new rooms in your home indicate the desire for something new in your life. Dreams about sex are about sex. The brain does not complicate matters all the time.
Our nights would really be quieter and sleep would be sweeter if we didn't dream at all. But our minds would not be so rich and our desires would not be so easily fulfilled had it not been for this kind of living fantasy. The screen of a sleeping brain may tire you out, but it will never bother you.