A Window into Brain Chemistry

By Faith Overton

Why do we dream and how are nightmares created ? Sleep is something we all need to have a healthy body . Life can be full of stressors and at times these leak into your subconscious which can cause vivid dreams. When you dream you into different stages that allow your body to “reboot and recharge “ itself so as to prepare for the next day. The largest stage is called REM ( Rapid Eye Movement ) this makes up for 20-25% of an individuals sleep cycle . The name is entirely easy to identify as a person in REM sleep has a slight noticeable twitch of the eyelids . While experiencing REM this is where most dreams or nightmares are created but not always recalled the next day . Our brain processes information all day and when we sleep it sorts the information , part of the sorting involves our emotional intake . We can’t always express every fear or response so our brain helps sort some of it while we sleep to better analyze what is a necessary to survive. It might surprise you that during REM your cortisol hormone is produced along with a lower heart rate . Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response as it is deemed the “stress hormone”. So why in the world would we make this while we should be sleeping ? This isn’t the only hormone created during a sleep cycle in fact it is part of a perfect cocktail that makes sleep possible . When levels become off set that is part of why we can recall vivid dreams another is interrupting the REM cycle or the cycle is prolonged . That is the beginning of a nightmare . Chemistry involves a balance and when those scales of balance our tipped either direction a natural reaction will occur . An environmental factor linked in several studies found to help produce nightmares is heat . When we physically become too hot our brain cane induce a nightmare or vivid dreams . Why ? It’s a survival tactic to insure we don’t become overheated thus hindering all the brain can do . Isn’t brain chemistry and cognitive psychology awesome ? I hope this little summary inspires you or gives you peace about dreaming . Happy dreaming friends ! #dreams #brainchem