The subconscious is usually the right side of the brain or the opposite side ofthe persons writing hand. Within the subconscious lie different types of thingssuch as suppressed emotions, creativity, and basic human instinct (Ullman andZimmerman 1979). The conscious part of the mind works when people are awake andis the part of the mind that handles things that people can understand. No onetruly knows why a person can’t interact with the subconscious while awake,however studies show that dreams are a way in which people can better comprehendits behavior.
The condition of the body during dreaming is interesting becausethe brain shuts off all sensory receptors thus, canceling all somatic impulses (Ullmanand Zimmerman 1979). This puts the body in an almost paraplegic state. The brainhowever continues to control all autonomic functions such as blood flow, heartpulsation, and lung inflation. During the sleep, homeostasis will fluctuatebecause sleep occurs on four stages (Davidmann, 1998). The individual goes fromawake to stage 1, then to 2, 3, and finally 4, the deepest stage of sleep.
Afterspending about twenty minutes in stage 4, they return to stage 1 and progressback to stage 4. The individual will continue to make these cycles throughouttheir sleep. Most individuals will experience about 4 to 5 cycles a night (Davidmann,1998). This is why humans are more apt to wake up at specific times in the nightand not sporadically (most people do not notice this however).
During stage 1the individual will experience what has been named REM (Rapid Eye Movement), Iwill make further elaboration on REM momentarily. For now I would like to pointout that during REM the body will show more signs of consciousness byspontaneous muscle contractions, flagellate excretion, and oculomotercoordination (eye movement). The body will experience these tensions andreactions because this is the active time of sleep in the average human (Davidmann,1998). I spoke earlier of REM (Rapid Eye Movement); it is the time in which theindividual will have their dreams.
Nathaniel Kleitman discovered it in 1953. Italways occurs in the lightest stage of sleep, stage 1. It has been given itsname because of the muscle contractions in the eye motor receptors. Theseelectrical impulses originate from the brain stem and then travel to the eyes toproduce imagery.
The catalysts for these impulses are triggered by thesubconscious mind and the emotions within it (Davidmann, 1998). The REM willusually begin ninety minutes after sleep is initiated and will last roughly tento fifteen minutes (Davidmann, 1998). It is during the ten to fifteen minutesthat dreams occur. The REM will end and the individual will slip into deepersleeps, until the forth stage is reached. Once this occurs the mind begins tocome out of the deeper sleep stages until it reaches the REM once again.
Theinteresting factor is that each time the sleeper enters the REM phase of sleepthe REM phase will increase in length. This repeats four to five times in theaverage sleep. The reason the dreams occur in the REM or the lightest stage isbecause this is the only stage in which the conscious mind can interpret theimagery of the subconscious. This is not to say that the subconscious doesn’tremain active in deeper sleep stages but the conscious mind isn’t alert enoughto decipher the imagery the subconscious creates in deep sleep. A goodpersonification description of this is to say that the conscious simply can’tswim as deep as the subconscious. The REM is also interesting because if aperson does not experience it they will suffer from various sleeping disordersbecause it is required by the body just like sunlight is required.
People whoexperience exaggerated REM will suffer from fatigue and sleep depravation whilethey are awake. Usually, a fully-grown person has about 4 to 5 cycles of REMsleep, consisting of about 25% of a night’s sleep. A newborn child’s sleep canconsist of as high as 50% REM type sleep (Davidmann, 1998). As I previouslystated, a person would go through the sleep stage cycle four to five times anight, hence four to five dreams per night. With this in mind it can becalculated the average human being will have 136,000 dreams in a lifetime,spending about six total years in the REM stage dreaming. Mentally retardedindividuals or people with low IQs tend to spend less time in the REM typesleep, but other mental disorders are capable of initiating more REM type sleep.
The reason for this is unknown. Now that the diagnostics of dreams has beencovered I would like to focus on the origin of dreams from a medical standpoint. As a consequence, memory, sensory, muscle-control, and cognitive areas of thebrain are randomly stimulated, resulting in the higher cortical brain attemptingto make some sense of it. The reason for these stimulations is unknown butvarious medical researchers believe they are the after effects of certainchemical reactions in the brain.
This, according to the research, gives rise tothe experience of a dream, but there is controversy of the question of whetherdreams have intentional meaning. Many psychotherapists agree that dreams arestimulated by impulses from the brain stem but they have actual meaning and arenot just hallucinations.