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Running Head: DREAMS AND SLEEP 1 Dreams and Sleep Lindzie Cunningham Department of Psychology Webster University
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Dreams and Sleep 2 Author Note Correspondence concerning this paper can be sent to Lindzie Cunningham, Department of Psychology, Webster University, Webster Groves, Missouri 63119. Address email to [email protected]
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Dreams and Sleep 3 Introduction In this paper, I will focus on sleep and dreams and how they are affected by our lives. There are 5 stages of sleep, Stage 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement). During the REM stage, most dreams occur and can be very intense. Heart rate and brain activity increases as well as movement of eyes (“Stages of Sleep”). Dreams are a vast subject; many people have their own theories about dreams, what they mean, and why we do it. Scientists are still trying to determine the answers to these questions and have a long way to go. Why We Sleep On average, human adults sleep around 8 hours every night. Without it we experience “diminished productivity, a tendency to make mistakes, irritability, and fatigue” (Myers 2017 p. 108). According to psychologists, sleep exists for five reasons (Myers 2017 p. 105-106). 1. “Sleep protects” us from the outside world. When we are asleep in our beds we are out of harm’s way and reduce the risk of injury or death from being out in the dark. 2. “Sleep helps us recuperate”. Everyone knows that when you are sick, you are supposed to rest. When we are asleep, our body “restores our immune system and repairs brain tissue”. 3. “Sleep helps restore our fading memories of the day’s experience”. Sleep allows our brain time to process memories and organize them into schemas. Schemas are like filing cabinets for our brain. It takes memoires breaks them down into categories and puts them into a “filing cabinet” with similar experiences to make room for more memories. 4. “Sleep feeds creative thinking”. While we sleep, we dream. Dreams can spark inspiring ideas like: topics for books, movies, short stories, and solutions to rigorous problems.
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Dreams and Sleep 4 5. “Sleep supports growth”. During NREM-3 we reach deep sleep. In this stage our pituitary gland releases a growth hormone that is needed for muscle and physical development. Without a good night’s sleep, children can lag in their development and cause serious health problems as they age. Sleep is imperative for general and developmental health. We need it to be able to function throughout the day and reduce our risks of health issues and behavioral mistakes. The Stages of Sleep Before we can understand the mechanics and meanings behind dreaming, we first must understand how we get there. Sleep is an important aspect of life. It is described as the “periodic loss of consciousness – as distinct from unconsciousness resulting from a coma, general anesthesia or hibernation” (Myers 2017, p. 100). Humans develop a biological rhythm, or Circadian Rhythm, throughout their life. A Circadian Rhythm is “the biological clock; regular bodily rhythms that occur during a 24-hour cycle” (Myers 2017, p. 100).
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