By Olivia Morris

8th October 2018

Have you ever woken up gasping for air, absolutely terrified that the intense images you just witnessed were real? Of course you have.

Everyone has dreamed at some point or other. Some good, some bad, some hilarious, some frightening and some just down right weird.

But where do these visions that are so familiar, yet so ridiculous, come from? Why does our brain choose to show us wacky realities in our sleeping hours? Why do we have such vivid, yet unrealistic happenings in our minds whilst sleeping?

A question for the ages – and one that’s left even the experts baffled…

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There are a few things that we do know…there are five stages of sleep, and the first four are typically characterised by the body’s slow descent into deep slumber.

But it’s the fifth stage that is the most interesting: REM (rapid eye movement).  This is when most of those images – sometimes wonderful, sometimes horrifying, invade our minds. Yes, this is your bodies time to shine: in the form of dreaming, of course.

But what you might not know is that there’s much more going on when you’re dreaming than the dreams themselves…

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1. Eyes

True to its name, during REM sleep your eyes dart rapidly all over the place. Experts don’t know for sure whether this is related to dreaming or something else entirely. There are several theories. The fact is, it happens.

Rickrolling…

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That being said, some researchers working with volunteers with epilepsy determined that the part of the brain that deals with mental images could in fact be linked to the movement.

This is because they noted that the eyes began to shift rapidly every time this part of the brain activated during sleep.

Think, think, think

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Whenever someone’s eyes moved, there was a sudden, rapid firing of neurons from the brain.

This means that during REM sleep the brain is often working to shift your mental focus onto another image. Weird! We know.

Where to next?

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These details are certainly in tune with the idea that a person experiences several dreams throughout the night…