Sometimes they’re bizarre, sometimes terrifying, and often they make absolutely no sense.
Countless claims are made about what each element of a dream might mean, but these interpretations don’t typically hold up to scientific scrutiny.
However, regardless of the content of a particular dream, the act of dreaming appears to be an important part of how we learn, process, and store information.
Building Complex Knowledge
You’re exposed to an endless stream of sensory input throughout the day, and your brain is constantly working to make sense of it all.
Sleep and dreams may provide a way for your brain to sift through all this information, find patterns, and formulate and restructure the complex knowledge frameworks that help us navigate the world.
You may have noticed how your dreams often relate to your current thoughts, concerns, and worries. Or the dream will be set in a familiar place, with familiar people, doing ordinary things, possibly distorted.
This could be a sign that your brain is working to incorporate recent experiences into your existing knowledge base, helping you remember them for later.
Reprocessing Emotional Experiences
In addition to processing the events that happened to you, dreams may also provide an opportunity to reprocess the emotions you are feeling.
Traumatic experiences, as well as stress, anxiety, and depression, can lead to nightmares and other types of disturbing dreams.
But these dreams may not just be a reflection of your current emotional state—they may also play a role in helping you work through these emotions and begin to heal.
Preparing You For The Future
Dreams’ creative combination of episodic memories and emotions may also help you prepare for future challenges.
Dreams don’t simply replay past experiences exactly how they happened before. Dreams generate new scenarios, possibly to help you practice problem-solving and adaptability so that you are more ready for whatever life throws your way.
While the content of dreams is often too surreal to accurately reflect reality, the process of mixing and matching distant conceptualizations may be training your brain to be more flexible when it comes to thinking about problems and coming up with solutions.
So even though your dreams may not make much sense, they may be doing some very important work for your mind. They can help you understand yourself and your surroundings in new ways and lead you to insights you wouldn’t have stumbled on in your waking life.