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Did you know that an average person spends over 200,000 hours sleeping during their lifetime? This time is equivalent to watching Inception, probably the most popular film about dreams and sleep, more than 80,000 times. But, of course, this sleeping time is a rough estimation based on assumptions that people require and get eight hours of sleep each day and live until their late 70s. Whereas, we all need different amounts of sleep in various stages of our lives.
Two hundred thousand hours is a long time—also, a fairly rounded one, which makes about 23 years. Supposing that we dream for two hours each night, we spend our six years in the dream world—our dream world. Six years might seem so minor when compared to a 70-year lifespan. Still, it’s a significant amount of time considering dreams deeply connect with our psychology. A bad dream—or a nightmare, if you want to call it—may seriously affect our mood throughout the day. In conclusion, even a few minutes of dreaming can impact your emotions for hours. That’s, of course, valid if you can remember your dreams.
What is the connection between dreams and sleep quality?
We mentioned in another article that dreaming is a sign of a healthy sleep cycle, and getting a good night’s sleep has been associated with improved cognitive function and emotional health. Some studies link dreams with practical thinking, strong memory, emotional processing, creativity and problem-solving. As a result, many experts believe dreams are either a reflection of or contribute to quality sleep.
What about nightmares’ effect on sleep and mental health?
However, nightmares are another story. Even though some researchers like Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, suggest that even nightmares may have positive outcomes, they interrupt sleep and usually negatively impact our psyche. Still, Barett claims, “if you just have garden variety nightmares occasionally, that’s a really good opportunity to understand a little bit more about unconscious fears and anxieties that may be cropping up.”
Nightmares occur to everyone every once in a while with no noticeable impact on sleep quality, but when nightmares happen more than once a week, though, it can be difficult for you to get quality sleep. Indeed, it might be hard to navigate through your mind, identify your fears and anxieties, and face them alone. In that case, you should consider getting professional help.
How do dreams affect everyday life?
So, there’s no straightforward answer to the question “is dreaming good or bad,” but definitely, dreams influence our everyday life, and vice versa. Even nightmares may have some opportunities, as we presented above. Nevertheless, there is a need for further research on dreams’ influence on our daily lives, but there is a consensus on some facts.
- The ability to dream clearly may indicate quality sleep, promoting sharper thinking, better mood, and overall well-being.
- Recalling dreams clearly is often associated with high levels of creativity. Creative insights may also be enhanced by integrating imaginative thinking from dreams into the waking world. So you might consider keeping a dream journal to boost your creativity.
- Dreaming promotes a more expansive and inspired way of thinking, which is the meaning behind the aphorism “follow your dreams.”
- When you dream, your memory may be strengthened, making it easier to recall important information.
- Recurring nightmares can exacerbate symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- In addition to disrupting sleep, nightmares can contribute to daytime sleepiness, mood changes, and thinking problems.