Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Study shows dreams help us to remember what's most important to us

sleep.jpg

If your dreams tend to err on the surreal side they can be pretty baffling come morning. In fact some of the more far out night tales are things we'd rather forget entirely. But new research confirms the theory that our dreams aren't just random, and actually help us to interpret facts and memories better. 

Rather than being unintelligible wanderings of the brain, they actually serve to help us recall facts, filing important new knowledge. Furthermore, it suggests dreams are essential for processing trauma.

The learnings come from at study at Swansea University Sleep Laboratory, which tested the subjects recall of newly-learned Welsh words.


Read more: The hidden meanings behind our surreal but common dreams


It found that those who had learned the words and slept were more likely to recall them than those who were taught them in the morning and tested by the afternoon. It also suggests that the people who placed more value on learning Welsh had even better recall after sleeping.

Sleep

Speaking at the British Science Festival, Professor Mark Blagrove explains that these findings support other research he's been working on that has found "you tend to dream of emotional things that have happened to you."

Blagrove's other research has looked at recurring dreams and suggests that these help us process and commit information to our long-term memory.

He explains that a one-off dream is just a way of processing recent experiences.  

“If you dream of important things that happen in the day, it maybe just a residual consequence of things that happened to be in your mind and nothing of any consequence at all."

Whereas if you have another dream on the same events, it usually becomes more abstract when it recurs five to seven days later. So much so that independent judges given transcripts of the dreams and diaries from the participants of their waking lives were unable to match them to the real event.

This dream lag effect is  "very difficult to explain" he states, but is evidence that the brain is doing something to process memories.  

Blagrove also supports the idea that nightmares are what happens when your brain fails to make sense of information,  and "just cannot do the linking and interconnecting."

This he says is why "a trauma will recur in dreams and it’s not made into a kind of metaphor in which you start to make sense of things.”

As for why we often can't remember dreams, he says it's not worth worrying about. 

“It could be we have evolved to forget them very quickly. It could be it’s best not to know.”

Related

intro-story-sept.jpg

Three ways to have a creative moment every day

bullet journal isntagram stress anxiety mindfullness.JPG

Could starting a bullet journal ease your anxiety?

laura trott.jpg

Britain's female athletes celebrate wins at Rio 2016

3012247_Baby_box.jpg

Finnish-style baby boxes are now being trialled in the UK

Two women smiling and pressing their foreheads against one another.jpg

Experts reveal three signs your relationship is built to last

iStock_72612459_MEDIUM.jpg

Breaking the brick ceiling

postbox.jpg

First look at love letters between WW2 bride and her soldier husband

iStock_81734017_LARGE.jpg

“I'm an insomniac: here's why you should never panic over no sleep”

pillows.jpg

There’s a pillow that plays music while you sleep

Comments

More

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

An Avengers-style Disney princesses film could be in the works

24 Mar 2017

All the new emojis set to light up our keyboards

From breastfeeding to broccoli

24 Mar 2017

There's a sex side-effect which benefits you for 48 hours, study finds

It's all about what's known as the sex "afterglow".

by Hayley Spencer
24 Mar 2017

This is how much the houses in Big Little Lies cost

Spoiler: they're VERY expensive.

by Hayley Spencer
23 Mar 2017

Scientists reveal why you need to stop flaking on plans with friends

Don't flake it 'til you make it

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Mar 2017

Revealed: the number one reason that women break up with their partner

The truth hurts

23 Mar 2017

Been zombied? There’s now a name for this confusing dating behaviour

It's time to talk about the zombies of the dating world...

23 Mar 2017

10 female anthems to share with your mum this Mother's Day

The most moving anthems about motherhood by our favourite female artists.

by Alice Vincent
23 Mar 2017