The current dream theories are revolving around ideas about REM sleep. The first five beliefs on dreaming are laid out in my favorite textbook: Introduction to Biopsychology by John Pinel and Steven Barnes.
1. A study by Wolpert and Dement was executed to evaluate how external stimuli effects dreams. They sprayed water on participants after they had been in REM sleep for a few minutes, and then woke them up to see what htey dreamed. In 14 out of the 33 cases the water was in the dreamer’s report.
2. While some people believe dreams happen in abstract amounts of time, it turns out they are played out in real time. A study by Dement and Kleitman in 1957 tested participants by having them awaken 5 to 15 minutes within REM sleep. They were then asked how long they had been dreaming based on the time frame of the events in the dream. They were correct 92 out of 111 cases.
3. The idea that people do not dream, according to their own claims, is also an idea that shapes our perception and use of dreams. These people that don’t dream have as much REM sleep as normal dreamers, and most report dreams when they are awakened during REM, but they do report dreams less frequently than normal sleepers.
4. Penile erections are usually assumed to be part of dreams with sexual content. It turns out they occur in both sexual and nonsexual dreams with the same level of erectness. They also occur in babies.
5. Many humans thing sleep walking and sleep talking occur during REM sleep. Sleep talking actually commonly occurs during any stage but usually it happens between sleeping and wakefulness. Sleep walking generally occurs during stage 3 or 4 sleep and never in REM sleep, which is where core muscles are relaxed.
Freud believed dreaming was triggered through unacceptable and repressed wishes, usually of a sexual nature. He hypothesized that we have these unconscious censors in our brains that disguise and subtract information from our real dreams so that we can endure them. Thus the dreams we experience are called our manifest dreams and they are just manifestations of our actual dreams, which are called latent dreams.
Another theory is the activation-synthesis theory by Hobson in 1989. This theory was created through the observation that during REM sleep many of our brain-stem circuits become active and bombard the cerebral cortex with neural signals. This theory assumes that the information being given to the cortex during REM sleep is mostly random and creates a dream that is the cortex’s attempt to make sense of these random signals.
Enter my theory: The Blueprint Consolidation Dream Theory
So with this idea flowing forth that the left brain is the interpreter of the external and internal emotional stimuli we reach from the right brain, we can label the fine motor movement of dreams as part of the left hemisphere.
We create blueprints throughout the day as our eyes soak in the fine motor movement of living. You record the color of faces and the lines to bean bag chairs. You memorize the shape of the candle that holds your favorite scent and the words of your favorite book.
These blueprints of the day then get consolidated into long term memories as we sleep.
As your brain sifts through the day it might even access old memories and interpret them with the new emotions.
So when we dream the blueprints might all be crashing around in the same area, possibly in the cerebral cortex or the brain stem, and the signals we see are part of that collaboration.
So when the emotions of the day jumble up with the blueprints of the day, we have dreams come into us.