The Science Behind Why We Dream

Rori Hornung
2 min readJan 15, 2021

Why exactly do we dream? The concept of dreaming has fascinated me for a long time, as I’m sure it has interested many others. Although unfortunately, this question has also stumped scientists and therefore doesn’t have a definite answer. Multiple theories have been thrown around concerning what dreams are and the meaning behind them, though I will save this for another post.

For starters, it is helpful to understand the REM stage of sleep considering this is when the most vivid dreams occur. REM stands for rapid eye movements and describes this stage of sleep perfectly; because your eyes move rapidly and you have no muscle activity, explaining why some feel the sensation of being unable to move in their dreams. The REM stage is the deepest sleep you will get all night, accounting for around 50% of baby’s sleep and 20% for adults.

So why is REM even important? Scientists say that it is significant for the development of cognitive activity and emotional regulation, and it has also been associated with the production of proteins in our bodies. Therefore, it can be argued that we dream to regulate our emotions and to consolidate our memories. Our brains are constantly rearranging and coding memories and new experiences during sleep, so that gives us a pretty good idea of why we dream even if it isn’t completely necessary because our memories move to “storage” in our minds anyways.