Why Do We Dream?

In the laboratory of Erin Wamsley and Robert Stickgold at Harvard Medical School, people were asked to play a game that required navigating a virtual 3-D maze. During the next 90 minutes, some napped while others stayed awake. Over that period, they were asked several times what they were thinking (if awake) or dreaming (if asleep). Those who were dreaming about the game were 10 times better at it the next time they played. Those who were just thinking about the game improved hardly at all.

When we replay a recent experience in a dream, we enhance our memory.

Full op-ed on dreaming as a symptom of memory processing.

Comments (9)

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  1. Vicki says:

    Interesting. So dreaming is good?

  2. P.L. Sonis says:

    If this is true, narcolepsy may have benefits.

  3. Celine says:

    Does this mean that people who tend to dream often, actually have a good memory?

  4. Bill S. says:

    To sleep, perchance to dream-
    ay, there’s the rub… The purpose of dreams has been the speculation of poets and scientists for as long as we have slept.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    When I was studying for comprehensive exams, I played taped notes while asleep. I did very well on areas that I had only reviewed by listening to them while asleep.

  6. Atilla the Pun says:

    Does this mean your blog has all the snooze that’s fit to print?

  7. Davie says:

    This reveals a fascinating quality of sleep. During sleep, our sensory awareness vanishes but our consciousness doesn’t.

    Someone who believes their sensory awareness is the whole of their consciousness is like the blind man holding the elephant: the picture is much bigger than they think.

  8. Davie says:

    Or, rather, the elephant’s tail.

  9. Brian says:

    According to an article I read last year, dreaming is supposed to assist in problem solving.