We dream to keep our brains diverted so our bodies can recharge. No—we dream to process experience and even rehearse survival strategies. Dreams mean something. Or do they? Science is still trying to figure out this most basic human mystery.
Reality may not be as objective as we once believed.
Why we dream is still one of the behavioral sciences' greatest unanswered questions. Researchers have offered many theories—memory consolidation, emotional regulation, threat simulation—but a unified one remains, well, a pipe dream.
The unconscious is where most of the work of the mind gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills (riding a bike), the source of intuition and dreams, the engine of much information processing. Fleeting perceptions register on the unconscious mind long before we may be aware of them.
For many of us, sleep is the sweet balm that soothes and restores us after a long day of work and play. But for those for whom sleep is elusive or otherwise troubled, the issue is far more fraught. Most people, at some point in their lives, experience difficulty falling asleep.