Sleep remains a mystery to even to the scientific community. We have been able to build spaceships and send a man to the moon, but when it comes to sleep, much of it is still a mystery. Why? Because sleep is a state of unconsciousness and we don’t yet have the ability to wake up and recount what happened while we were sleeping. Science has been able to find out a lot of things about the mechanism behind sleep over the years, but there is a lot more that needs to be understood about this nightly phenomenon.
The need for sleep has also been quite a mystery. Why exactly do we need sleep? Today it is believed that we need sleep because the brain needs to recharge and store energy for the next day. But sleep came about not because of rest but because of safety. The ancient man needed to be safe from wild animals after the sun went down. With nothing else to do, they chose to go to their caves and sleep, even if they did not feel tired. A few centuries ago, when electricity had not been invented, sleep was chosen because it helped save oil and gas. Besides, there was nothing else to do after the sun went down.
The duration of sleep has also changed over the years. Man did not always need 8 hours of sleep. The early man slept for as long as 12 hours with a break in between. Today, science has found that man needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep because that’s the time to brain takes to recharge for the next day completely. However, some people need more or less than that amount to function normally.
Although science has been successful in interpreting much of the sleep mechanism, there is one aspect that still needs a lot more research: dreaming. And if you have ever experienced Deja Vu – the feeling of familiarity with something that’s not supposed to be familiar – it may have something to do with your dreams.
Why Do We Dream?
Everyone dreams, including babies and animals (if your dog howls in his sleep, he’s probably dreaming of confronting other members of his species). But even though sleep is such a common phenomenon, no one fully understands the reason behind them. The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, had written a famous book interpreting dreams, but there’s still so much that needs to be answered. Some believe that dreams express hidden feelings and desires, while others believe that dreams can also predict the future. But despite the several advancements made by science, when it comes to decoding the mechanism of dreams , it is still a long way off.
Dreams occur in the final stage of sleep, also called the REM stage. In this stage, the brain slowly begins to become active, but the body is still inactive. This is unlike what happens in previous stages when the brain is inactive, and the body works to heal and recharge. The REM stage sleep is important for cognitive functioning and memory forming. In this stage, the brain consolidates thoughts and memories, boosts productivity and concentration, and becomes alert. When REM sleep isn’t sufficient, cognitive functioning can be affected.
Dreams occur in the REM stage and not in other stages. That’s because the brain becomes active in this stage, right before waking up. Besides that, the heartbeats rise, and the body temperature also starts to become normal. It is believed by scientists that a conscious part of the sleeping brain is responsible for dreams. This conscious part of the brain has cognitive, sensory and emotional occurrences, leading to dreams. Dreams are usually life-like, complete with people objects themes voices and color. These things can often have a close resemblance to waking life. But dreams can also be about unfamiliar things. Some dreams can seem real because they are very vivid. Such dreams are usually remembered for a long time. Nightmares are also dreams, but only frightening or traumatic.
Deja Vu and Dreaming
We have all had the feeling of Deja Vu at some point. Deja Vu (French for “already seen”) is a sense of familiarity about something unfamiliar. For instance, you go to a place for the first time but feel like you have already been there before because it feels familiar. Why does that happen? Even science doesn’t have the answer to that. However, there is a possibility that the sense of Deja Vu has something to do with dreaming.
A dream plays out just like real life, full of people and objects, colors, sounds, and voices. Sometimes dreams are about things, places or people we are unfamiliar with. But dreams can also be about things and events we are familiar with. When we dream of familiar people, places or events, they are actually bits and pieces of memories that are stored in our subconscious.
Deja Vu is different from a vision. A vision is when something seems familiar because you remember having seen or experienced it before. But in Deja Vu, you have no idea why something seems familiar because you don’t remember seeing or experiencing it before.
The dreams that we don’t remember might be the ones that appear as Deja Vu. However, there hasn’t yet been any fundamental proof to establish why we experience Deja Vu.
Is Deja Vu Precognitive?
Deja Vu is often assumed to be precognitive, in that they may be capable of predicting the future. However, there is no evidence to prove that dreams or feelings of Deja Vu are precognitive. If anything, then it’s purely coincidence.
But dreams are called precognitive if you experience the same thing later in real life, even though you may not recall it. There is no evidence yet to prove that dreams can predict significant future events, but when it comes to déjà Vu, it could be something that our dreams tell us from beforehand.