The Real Reason Humans Dream

Why did Miley Cyrus dream that she gave Lady Gaga a foot massage (via Twitter)? Why did Kristin Bell dream that she and Jon Snow (yes, Game of Thrones Jon Snow) were running for their lives, only to be saved by a dance-off (via Twitter)? Why did Ellen DeGeneres dream that she and Jimmy Fallon were swimming in an ocean of orange soda (via Twitter)?  

When we dream, the logical and rational centers of our brain take a breather. The emotional centers of our brains, on the other hand, have a field day (via The Conversation). As we dream, our brains also release dopamine, which research has linked to hallucinations (via Cleveland Clinic). Knowing this, dance-offs with mythical warriors, super-star studded foot massages, and Fanta-filled oceans don't seem so strange. The heart wants what it wants, and we seem to allow it to do so when we dream. So, that's how it happens, but why do we dream?

Dreams help us cope with life

Some researchers will tell you that dreams are a safe way to learn to deal with threatening situations (hello, Jon Snow). Others will tell you that dreams help us organize and store memories more efficiently. Studies, for example, prove that if you learn new information and then give it a night's sleep, you'll be able to remember it better than you would without your ZZZs (via Healthline). A third theory is more evocative. It suggests dreams can serve as a sort of therapist's office in the unconscious, helping us process and cope with emotional and traumatic experiences. 

These findings seem to support the theories of those who believe that dreaming is a form of therapy. When you're stressed out, worried, or anxious about something, you may find yourself dreaming more often, at least remember your dreams more vividly. That's because your dreams could be helping you work through something. As sleep expert Dr. Rubin Naiman told Time, these dreams could very well be a powerful "antidepressant." Per Naiman, we should be starting "conversations," especially with the dreams that scare us. Naiman believes that "when we turn to [dark dreams] with a willingness to make peace, it starts to morph and it can bring us some very beautiful experiences."