How do dreams come about

Dream research

"Probably everyone dreams, however, all night long," says Martin Dresler. We dream intensely and emotionally, especially in the sleep phase, in which we quickly roll our eyes: in the rapid eye movement phase (Rem phase).

We can remember the dreams from this passage particularly well. However, the experiences rarely wander into the long-term memory because the brain is not receptive enough during sleep due to the chemical composition. Often we even think that we do not dream for days.

The truth is, we just can't remember it.

Why pictures are created in sleep

One riddle, however, remains at the heart of sleep researchers: Why do we dream at all? So far, there is no concrete answer. Scientists cannot yet say whether the brain stores the experiences of the day in a dream, processes feelings or the dream is simply a coincidental product of sleep. "It is most likely a mixture of the various theories," says Martin Dresler.

A new approach comes from Finland: We dream in order to simulate dangerous or high-risk situations, according to dream researcher Antti Revonsuo. He calls it "Threat Simulation Theory".

"In dreams we can try out and learn behaviors that will help us in the future," says Dresler. In terms of evolutionary biology, this makes sense: Those who defeat a saber-toothed tiger in their sleep are also better armed against predators in real life.

"Today dreams help us to deal with fears better, to prepare for exams or challenges at work," says psychologist Holzinger.

Dreams - these are feelings in moving pictures

What does a dream mean? To answer this question, people have always looked for dream interpretations. Multi-volume dream lexicons with symbols and signs emerged. Sigmund Freud later announced that a dream is an expression of unconscious wishes and an encrypted message from the subconscious. "We have moved away from these theories," says Martin Dresler.

Psychologists rather assume that we get access to our dream through our feelings. "Dreams are feelings in moving pictures," says Brigitte Holzinger. "Those who recognize these feelings can learn something about themselves".

For example about strengths and weaknesses, about your own personality and things that are currently causing worries or fears. Dreams reflect experiences from everyday life in which we are too busy with external impressions. But in dreams we experience what really moves us. Recurring basic patterns reveal what concerns the dreaming.

Anyone who recognizes one of these patterns can use a trick: What exactly would I do if this situation happened to me in real life? How can I solve the problem? Whom can I get to help? "So the dreaming is strengthened and the fear decreases", says Brigitte Holzinger.

Nightmares can also be treated with this method: In "Imagery Rehearsal Therapy", patients rewrite their dream. "They invent a happy ending for the supposedly hopeless scenes," explains Holzinger.

"But there are no general interpretations of dreams," emphasizes the psychologist, "dreams are very individual and depend on the life situation and experience". But: It's always worth looking.