Why are Dreams so Strange and Silly?
“During REM sleep, our body is almost completely paralyzed. The heart and other automatically controlled muscles still function, but our head and limbs really cannot move very much. Also during REM sleep, there is intense stimulation getting to those parts of our brain that interpret what we see, hear and feel. However, this stimulation is coming from within the brain itself. And, the stimulation is occuring at a time when the muscles we use to move about and orient our eye and ears to stimulation are inoperative.
Even under these conditions, our mind does its job and tries to make sense of what it ‘sees, hears and feels’. Our mind ‘making sense’ of stimulation coming from inside the brain while our muscles are paralyzed leads to the bizarre experiences we know as dreams. Doctors believe that many common features of dreams stem from the physiological paralysis that occurs during REM sleep. For example, many people dream about falling, being unable to get away from a pursuer or being unable to move fast enough to prevent some accident.
All these kinds of dreams have the common feature of movement impairment which may stem from the brain’s recognition of paralysis during REM sleep.”
-excerpt from 101 Questions About Sleep and Dreams , by Dr. Elizabeth A. Mitler and Dr. Merrill M. Mitler
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