Sleeping and Dreams

Written by Sophie Van Winkle

A Dedication to my Personal Hero

My personal hero, Claire Van Winkle, had been following her dreams ever since I could remember. In high school, she left for a whole summer to help underprivileged kids and explore Costa Rica. Next, she was driving away to college. Then before I knew it, she was studying abroad in New Zealand, a place that inspired her in ways only she can understand. As much as I missed her, as sullen as I was, I admired her for following her dreams. When summers rolled around I got to see her again and she would repeat three words over and over until they were stuck in my head: follow your dreams. So to do this, I decided to discover what dreams really were, and what happened when you were asleep.

From the moment your head hits the pillow your body goes straight to work.

You have had a long day, filled with hard work and way too much stress. Finally you approach your bed: it's warm and coated in fuzzy blankets. You don't hesitate but to get in, and fall asleep... but what happens next?

Two Stages of Sleep

Sleep revolves around two cycles: the REM and non REM cycles of sleep. REM is a acronym for rapid eye movement.

The Non REM Cycles of Sleep

During the non REM cycles of sleep yet another three cycles of sleep occur. First stage is when your eyes are closed. Even though your eyes are shut, you are easily awakened. On average this lasts about 5-10 minutes but can vary depending on the person. Then you enter light sleep. Your heart rate slows and body temperature decreases. The whole process of light sleep prepares you for deep sleep. Finally, deep sleep begins. During deep sleep your body repairs itself, an example of this is repairing body tissues in the face or limbs.

The REM Cycles of Sleep

Immediately after the non REM cycles of sleep you enter the REM cycles of sleep. This cycle is when you will dream. The REM cycle usually begins ninety minutes after you fall asleep. Since we know REM stands for rapid eye movement, during this cycle of sleep your eyes are rapidly moving. Scientists believe the eye movement is neurons in your brain reacting to new concepts and images that may appear in your dreams.

More Facts about Dreams

- Dreams usually last on average 5-20 minutes but length can vary

- Women usually have long dreams involving more characters

- Men usually have shorter dreams with more aggressive content

- If you combined all the time you are dreaming, you dream for over 6 years of your life

- Everyone dreams even if you cannot remember it

- In order to dream about someone, you have to have seen them in person

- Not everyone dreams in color