It’s no surprise that sleep is an integral part of overall health and wellness. Researchers have been studying the effects of sleep deprivation for many years and have found that decreased sleep can lead to a variety of health complications like heightened blood pressure, heart disease, and even a higher risk of obesity. While sleep is widely recognized as a building block of good health, the accompanying experience of dreaming is often left out of the scientific debate.
New research has found that our dreams may be more important to our health than originally thought by experts. While previous sleep studies have disregarded dreams as a mere byproduct of sleep, new studies have found that dreaming actually has a positive effect on the brain. While in REM-sleep, our brains are uniquely devoid of anxiety-triggering molecules, while key memory and emotional structures in the brain are activated. This allows us to process difficult situations while in REM, recovering mentally from anxiety-inducing or stressful events the same way our muscles recover from an intense workout during sleep.
Dreaming has also been shown to enhance creativity and problem-solving. In a dream-state you often don’t remember every detail of a situation or task, but rather have a general overview of the highlighted points. This generalization allows the brain to pick out which pieces are truly vital and aids you in your daily life by sparking creativity as your brain works to process and catalogue what it sees into the categories of “important” and “not-so-important”.