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The Functions of REMS and Dreaming

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Understanding Sleep and Dreaming
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Abstract

As with the functions of sleep and NREMS that are discussed in Chap. 10, the function of REMS and dreaming are not precisely known. But there are several possibilities. REMS may prepare the organism for the future by insuring proper growth, maturation, and maintenance of the brain. This may involve its cells, chemicals, or specific functions. It also may keep the brain in a more alert state than does NREMS. Other functions of REMS may be in response to what the organism has experienced such as maintaining brain temperature, modulating the expression of drives and emotions, contributing to memory consolidation, and possibly help maintain the visual system. In addition, there are suggestions that the sequential occurrence of NREMS and REMS is important for some of these functions. Many of the contemporary theories of the functions of dreaming maintain that we dream about topics that are emotionally important to us. The process is adaptive, since we focus on our problems and seek solutions, often creative ones, and dreams help bring emotional balance. These solutions may subsequently be assimilated into existing memory structures and may be of help for waking behaviors.

Portions of this chapter have been adapted from Moorcroft, 1993 with permission of the publisher. Specific references to statements in this chapter that can be found there and in multiple, widely available sources are not included in the text. A selection of these sources is listed below and can also be consulted for verification or more detail. (Cartwright 2010; Kryger et al. 2011; Horne 2006; Siegel 2005).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Altricial refers to being born relatively immature and unable to care for itself as opposed to precocial meaning being born relatively mature and able to care for itself.

  2. 2.

    Endothermic animals are those that sufficiently produce their own body heat as opposed to exothermic animals that rely on their environment for most of their body heat. They are sometimes called “cold blooded”.

  3. 3.

    Adapted and updated from Moorcroft (1993) with permission of the publisher.

  4. 4.

    Something that secondarily occurs because of some primary event.

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Moorcroft, W.H. (2013). The Functions of REMS and Dreaming . In: Understanding Sleep and Dreaming. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6467-9_11

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