Dream Stereotypes

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In the popular imagination, dreamscapes are all populated by flying people and magical nakedness, and probably art-directed by David Lynch. But according to decades of research, dreams usually centre around fairly realistic portrayals of familiar things: people, places and activities. Literally: snoresville. If this seems disappointingly banal you only have yourself to blame, since many aspects of dream content are thought to be reflections of your emotional slate in regular, awake life. Whatever you care most about during non-sleepy times is likely to appear with special frequency in your dreams. So if that really is a large, tutu-clad bear chasing you around a table, then maybe you've got some issues. For a whole lot of the past century, scientists …show more content…
Their theory is that dreams are like threat simulations for waking life. Early humans especially didn't know what life was going to throw at them day-to-day: tigers, lions, giant rampaging wombats. So evolution favoured folk whose anxiety dreams best prepped them for survival in the real world, letting them act out ways to confront (or avoid) danger.
This is based on the mere five per cent of dreams we can remember, mind you. Perhaps for the rest we really are drinking a milkshake with Benedict Cumberbatch while talking doves narrate our favourite podcasts and scatter confetti on our heads. We can only hope. There are five stages of sleep - most dreaming comes during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage. Scientists have known about REM since the '50s, and early research basically consisted of watching snoozing people's eyeballs jump around crazily behind their eyelids. Those '50s volunteers weren't getting much quality sleep, either, since they were woken up during REM and asked what they were dreaming about. Interestingly, eye movement and dream content seemed to match.

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