Sleep those Troubles Away, Subconscious Dreams Give Relief after a Bad Day

By @Len_IBTimes on

Science supports people who sleep their troubles away.

According to a new study, a person's worries and anxiety triggers are "softened" during a dream cycle, which makes us feel better after a dreamful sleep.

Researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, says during nighttime dreaming, also known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the brain processes the experiences of the day in a realm where stress chemicals are low, softening the emotional edges of the experiences.

While the problems are not solved in dreams, Dr. Walker says the subconscious experience helps us cope better with the situation.

Meanwhile, previous studies noted that the case is different among people with mood disorders such as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and depression.

The study observed 35 healthy adults, divided into two groups. Each group viewed 150 images that naturally pushes on a person's worry button, such as the images of a man holding a gun, a shark and a snake about to bite. The participants brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while they viewed the images.

All the participants viewed the images twice, but half of them had the second viewing after a full night of sleep. Those who slept between viewings reported a significant decrease in their emotional reaction to the images.

Further, MRI scans showed a dramatic reduction in activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions, implying that the brain's "rational" prefrontal cortex regain control of the participants' emotional reactions to the images, the researchers said.

It remains a mystery why humans and other animals sleep; dreams are even more mysterious even with the continued studies regarding the subconscious mind.

Previous studies have indicated that the sleeping mind can actually solve problems while at rest, except that the process is done in symbols which are not easy to solve during waking hours, especially since not everyone remembers details of their dreams after a full night of sleep.

Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Harvard University, theorizes that dreaming is really just thinking, but in a slightly different state from when our eyes are open. 

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