No one fully understands purpose of dreams or what exactly they mean

By Sheshu Babu*

“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious… The dream is the liberation of the spirit from the pressure of external nature, a detachment of the soul from the fetters of matters… Dream is the dreamers own psychical act” — Sigmund Freud, quote from “The Interpretation of Dreams’

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” — Langston Hughes

“The future belongs to those who believe in their beauty of dreams” — Eleanor Roosevelt

The ‘old man’in ‘The old Man and the Sea’ (Earnest Hemingway) dreamed of Lions.


Almost every human being dreams at one time or the other. Dreams are part of lives. We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping – and during that time we dream. While many theories exist to explain why we dream, no one fully understands their purpose or what exactly dreams mean. Some researchers believe they have symbolic meaning, while others believe that dreams are related to waking life. (Interesting Facts About Dreams, by Kendra Cherry, updated on February 11 2021, Medically reviewed by Claudia Cheves, MD, The brain is active all night long and there is intense brain activity in forebrain and midbrain during rapid eye movements (REM) when dreams occur. In a typical life time people spend about six years of dreaming

Brain scans show that the frontal lobes which play a key role in memory formation, are inactive during REM sleep when dreams occur. That is why most dreams are forgotten after waking up. A 2016 study published in the journal ‘Behavioural and Brain Sciences’ found that forgetting dreams may also be related to the changes in the levels of neurotransmitters specifically acetylcholine and norepinephrine, during REM sleep. In another study published in ‘Frontiers of Psychology’, a link between dream recall and the brain matter density of the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) has been found.

Some researchers have found that dogs, cats birds and other mammals also dream. Even blind and visually impaired persons dream.

Some facts

The first dream dictionary originates from ancient Egypt and it dates back to 4,000 BCE. Thus, dreams uuhave been analysed in ancient times. People forget about 95% of their dreams. (From 27 Fascinating Dreams Facts and Stats for 2021, written by Whitney Swann, December 13, 2020). During dreams, motor neurons are not stimulated and muscles cannot be moved. About 1-15% of people sleepwalk (National Sleep Foundation) and it generally occurs in deep sleep stage. The famous sleepwalk scenes of Lady Macbeth are example of this stage.

Future hopes

People dream on different topics. Many writers all over the world have written on dreams and gave importance to dreaming. Rich people dream of becoming richer and richer. They dream of occupying top spot as richest in the world. The vast majority of middle, lower-middle and the poorer sections dream of basic amenities like good food , clothing, education to their children medical facilities and shelter, etc. These people are more in number and they should work towards achieving their goals. Dreamers like John Lennon (‘Imagine’), Martin Luther King (I have a dream), P. B. Shelley (‘I arise from Dreams of Thee) or Anne Bronte (‘Dreams’), etc have shown the strength of realizing goals by dreaming and working towards achieving them. Faiz Ahmed Faiz said that dreams are necessary for future attainment of socialist, classless, casteless, egalitarian society.

‘ye daag daag ujaalaa, yeh shab gazlidaa sahar/ wo intazaar thaa jiska, ye wo sahar to nahii.n’

(A blemished dawn, a morning bitten by the night./ This can’t be the daybreak that we’d been waiting for)

Poetry in Translation: “Six iconic poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz” translated by Vinita Agrawal (26 June 2020,

Every person hoping and dreaming of a better world with equality must work together with others.

*Writer from anywhere and everywhere

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