Sleep is the condition with which each of us is familiar from the very first hours of our lives. At the beginning of each life a little child holds most of the day in the sleep, and only with the age, he gradually learns to stay awake. And for all adults there is nothing more accustomed than a sleep. From ancient times, inquiring minds of scientists were concerned with the question: what happens to us during this process, beyond waking, in the realm of dreams where nothing is real, but at the same time, all the things in a dream seem to be so real that sometimes you do not want to leave the process of sleeping.
For a long time there was no scientific definition of this concept, but now each of us knows that sleep is a physiological condition which is characterized by loss of active mental relations of the subject with the world that is around him. Sleep is essential for higher animals and humans. For a long time it was believed that the sleep is a rest, that was needed to restore the energy of brain cells after active wakefulness. However, it was found that brain activity during sleep is often higher than during wakefulness. It has been found that the activity of a number of neuronal structures of the brain during sleep appears to be significantly increased, what actually means that sleep is an active physiological process.
Reflex responses during sleep are reduced. A sleeping person does not respond to many outside influences when they are not of excessive force. Sleep is characterized by phase changes of high nervous function, which is especially clearly manifested in the transition from wakefulness to sleep (equalizing, paradoxical, ultraparadoxical and drug phase). In drug phase animals stop responding conditioned reflex reaction to any conditional irritator. Sleep is accompanied by a number of characteristic changes of autonomic indices and bioelectrical activity of the brain.(Moon 12)
During the sleep, the person is periodically alternating two main phases: slow and fast sleep, in the beginning of the sleep the slow phase is dominated by the duration, and before awakening the duration of REM sleep is increased. A sleep of a healthy person begins with a first sleep stage of slow wave sleep, which lasts for 5-10 minutes. Then comes the 2nd stage, which lasts about 20 minutes. Next 30-45 minutes are dedicated to the period of the third and fourth stages. After that sleep is returning back to the 2nd stage of REM sleep, which occurs after the first episode of REM sleep, which has a short duration for about 5 minutes. This entire sequence is called a cycle. The first cycle has a duration of 90-100 min. Then the cycle repeats. On average, normal healthy sleep is marked with five complete cycles.(Moon 23)
As we have figured out, sleep is not a passive rest of the brain, but its activities of reprocessing the information. During sleep, of the overwhelming importance is the information stored in the brain which is the memory of the past, forecasts and plans for the future, but not those that come from the senses.
Our dreams can tell us more than any fortune teller, visionary or psychological test, if decipher the meaning of the dream. The psychology of Sleep repeatedly convinced that dreams have access to our unconscious, which at other states is often closed. Dreams tend to convey to us the psychological message that is about our state, or about the things what are missing, about the possibilities of solving the problems, and how to change things for the better. Dreams do not predict the future, the prophetic dreams is nothing more than our intuition, which is active during wakefulness. Dreams appear to be symbolic forms that indicate the circumstances, relationships, etc., which must first be addressed.(McNamara 17)
Dreams have much in common with such psychic phenomenas, as hallucinations, illusions, vision, imagination, fantasy, hypnotic, oneiric, and other altered states of consciousness. This suggests the existence of a certain common mechanism of these phenomena. It is obvious that the dreams are associated with the work and the manifestation of consciousness of both the human psyche and as a whole. And, therefore, more profound, thorough, and most importantly the right approach to study dreams will help researchers to find the essence and fundamental principles of the functioning of consciousness, essentially come to the discovery of the most important secrets and mysteries of human existence in the world.(Parmeggiani and Velluti, 24)
In psychology, dreams usually referred to the unconscious, the area of hidden desires, instincts, fears and anxieties. Interpretation of dreams was a topic of interest since the ancient times. It was believed that during sleep the person has the opportunity to contact the world beyond the grave, with the souls of the dead. Indeed, people often say that in their dreams they communicate with deceased loved ones. The psychotherapeutic interpretation of dreams that was developed by Freud has been considering dreams as repressed desire. In fact, in a dream often manifests sexual innuendo, hidden desire, but not only.(Trueit, 14)
In order to conclude I would like to emphasize that sleep and dreams appear to be the processes that are connected with each other. Sleep is a physiological need of the body, which appears to be a deep protective inhibition, preventing fatigue and depletion of nerve cells. But in order to disclose the psychology of sleep it is very important to understand that the process of sleep is significantly influenced by dreams, as it is one of the most important aspects of the process.
McNamara, Patrick. An Evolutionary Psychology Of Sleep And Dreams. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2004. Print.
Moon, Rachel. Sleep. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy Of Pediatrics, 2013. Print.
Parmeggiani, P. L, and Ricardo A Velluti. The Physiologic Nature Of Sleep. London: Imperial College Press, 2005. Print.
Trueit, Trudi Strain. Dreams And Sleep. New York: Franklin Watts, 2004. Print.