If you’re like myself and countless other people around the world, you may be wondering just what your dreams actually mean. Is there a deep meaning behind the seemingly random and sometimes crazy visuals that we see when sleeping? Or is dreaming completely pointless?
That’s the topic of episode 2 of The Mind, Explained on Netflix. The episode, titled “Dreams” takes a look at the topic of dreaming and REM sleep.
Netflix’s The Mind Explained Dream episode recap
The science behind dreaming and REM sleep can sometimes be quite dry. Netflix manages to make this topic fascinating through the use of cute hand-drawn images, trendy music, and a rapid interview style that seems designed for the nonexistent attention span of the modern TV watcher.
The Mind, Explained discusses how REM sleep relates to memory, particularly when it comes to solidifying things that you’ve learned during your waking life. Interestingly, it also seems to play a pivotal role in helping you forget traumatic events such as those experienced by people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The episode also explains the history of dream interpretation going all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. It turns out people have been fascinated by their own dreams for a very long time.
One interesting thing that I learned is that, until relatively recently, most experts believed that you didn’t actually dream during sleep, but rather that all dreaming took place during the moment that you woke up. We obviously now know that this is false, and that dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
While dreaming your body is paralyzed but your eyes move rapidly (hence the name Rapid Eye Movement). Did you know that the way your eyes move relates to what you’re seeing while dreaming? The show gives the example of someone dreaming of a tennis match. In that case the sleeping person’s eyes will move back and forth as if they’re watching a tennis match. If they’re dreaming of walking up the stairs their eyes will move up as they ascend the staircase.
Freud, Jung, and lucid dreaming
The show also goes into the western interpretation of dreaming, with shoutouts given to Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud’s ideas. Some of them have been refuted by modern science, while others are still somewhat relevant to modern interpretations of the dream state.
The segment on lucid dreaming is particularly interesting. If you didn’t know, lucid dreaming is when you are completely aware that you’re dreaming while it’s happening. In many cases the lucid dreamer can actually control the events that transpire during their dream state. How cool is that!?
Differences in dreaming between men and women
Unsurprisingly, men and women dream about different topics. Men more frequently dream of other men, while women tend to dream about men and women in equal measure. Children tend to dream about animals most frequently.
The show explains that the current understanding of dreaming is that you dream about the people, places, and things that you most frequently encounter in real life. The purpose of dreaming seems to be to make connections and form ideas that you wouldn’t normally think about in real life. As one person in the show put it, “without the constraints of logic”. That’s why most of your dreams tend to be extremely weird. It’s your brain’s way of thinking through solutions to problems you’re dealing with in your everyday life.
The Mind, Explained “Dreams” Episode 2 is available now on Netflix. It’s a short 20 minute watch and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested int he topic of dreaming.