Our brain doesn’t really differentiate between dreaming and waking because the brain activity and the processing of new visual images during dreaming and waking is remarkably similar.
REM part of sleep, for instance, is linked to visual processing, rather than physical activation or movement, suggesting the brain “sees” dreams, hence occasionally we experience those uber real, hard to shake off dreams that stay with us throughout the day. (Thanks to our frontal lobe, which is least active of all brain regions when we sleep, we accept the crazy events of our dreams). Early dream theorists, like , argued that the function of dreaming was to preserve sleep by expressing unfulfilled desires or wishes in the unconscious state.
Are we processing the content that we’ve consciously or unconsciously avoided during wakefulness, that “needs” to be dealt with at least during sleep to maintain our psychological well-being?
Our brain also clears out toxins while we sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid washes away the harmful waste proteins that build up during waking hours and are toxic to brain cells. This may explain why the lack of sleep can actually kill a man. This cleaning process requires a lot of energy, so starving yourself before bedtime is not a good idea (and what an excuse to raid the fridge at night!) .
Sweet dreams, kittens 💤