What Are the Health Benefits of Dreaming?

Medically Reviewed on 5/4/2022
What are the health benefits of dreaming?
Although dreams are fictitious in nature, the feelings that accompany them are quite real, and dreams may help you heal from your emotions.

Dreams are stories and images that our minds conjure up as we sleep. They may be rather vibrant and have the power to make you happy, sad, or afraid. Sometimes, they may appear puzzling or totally sensible. Most of the time, recalling or remembering the dreams the next day is highly unlikely, yet everyone does dream.

Dreams can occur at any time while sleeping. However, your most vivid dreams occur during rapid eye movement sleep when your brain is most active. According to some specialists, you dream four to six times every night.

Sigmund Freud, a renowned psychologist, believed that dreams are a doorway into the subconscious mind, revealing a person's:

  • Thoughts
  • Desires
  • Motivations

Researchers believe that dreams are a type of mental cleansing whose primary goal is to help us forget. However, many people have argued since ancient times that the content of dreams is genuinely relevant.

6 health benefits of dreaming

Six health benefits of dreaming include:

  1. Improves memory:
    • Some studies proved that sleep aids in the retention of new knowledge, and there is some evidence that dreaming helps reinforce memories.
    • A study was conducted on 99 participants to play a virtual reality maze. The researcher put the participants' memory to test by asking them to recall things in the maze. Half of the participants then fell asleep, and when they awoke, the scientists retested everyone's memory of the maze. People in the napping group performed better on the exam than those in the non-sleeping group. Those who experienced dreams of the maze during their naps improved 10 times faster than the rest of the sleeping group.
  2. Helps you learn and memorize:
    • There is scientific proof that you do learn while being asleep. While you sleep, the brain reactivates and consolidates freshly acquired memories and information snippets.
    • According to Harvard Medical School experts, if you learn a skill and then sleep, you may be 10 times better at that activity than if you stayed up. 
    • Dreaming aids in your brain's processing of new knowledge. Specialists feel that dreams are actively documenting what we need to know and remember rather than just reflecting it. Their findings imply that your dreams are a kind of virtual reality experience in which we watch memory processing.
    • Your dreams operate as a “rehearsal” for that new knowledge, allowing our brain to put it into practice and actively organize and solidify it.
  3. Assists emotional healing:
    • According to recent studies, people are more likely to dream about emotionally powerful situations, and theta brain waves during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are one mechanism for the brain to consolidate such memories. Although what you encounter in your dreams is fictitious, the feelings that accompany them are quite real, and dreams may help you heal those emotions.
    • An American report stated that your dream tales essentially aim to remove the emotion out of a given event by forming a memory of it. Therefore, the emotion related to the event is no longer active. This helps you cope with emotions, especially negative ones, which may otherwise promote stress and anxiety.
  4. Offers a new perspective on things:
    • Dreams do more than just replicate what you have seen or learned; they generate whole new mashups and free linkages between what you have seen and what you know. As a result, your dreams provide a window into your most untamed creativity, as well as new methods of problem-solving.
    • Many prominent artists and philosophers who attribute their greatest works to their dreams have testified to this.
  5. Indicates overall health:
    • REM sleep is considered the most essential type of sleep. As most vivid dreams occur during REM sleep, lack of dreams indicates sleep deprivation. 
    • Excessive alcohol consumption or intake of REM-suppressant drugs such as antidepressants may lead to reduced dreams. This in return contributes to depression and disturbances in consciousness.
  6. Nightmares do have their share of benefits:
    • Researchers now believe that experiences such as an emotional “dress rehearsal” are the brain's way of preparing you for horrible things that may happen. It is almost as if the mind is expecting unpleasant things and then attempting to come up with answers.
    • Some scientists feel this is a primitive protection mechanism; if something horrible happened once, there is a risk it would happen again. As a result, experiencing reoccurring nightmares about that incident may keep you on guard.


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Medically Reviewed on 5/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Why Your Brain Needs to Dream: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_your_brain_needs_to_dream

The Health Benefits of Dreams: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/the-health-benefits-of-dreams