Many people who dream do not understand why they dream or what their dreams mean. I can still remember one particular dream I had as a young child that still puzzles me. I was in my backyard on my tire swing spinning and swinging around. As I was swinging the door on my dadís tool shed started to open up. I then saw things that could only be described as humanoid aliens. They then stepped out, captured me, and took me into the tool shed. The tool shed must have really been a space ship from what I could see inside of it. They were using a cordless telephone, but for what I do not know. Eventually I was rescued by Wonder Woman who flew in and rescued me in her invisible jet. The dream I have recounted may or may not have any significant meaning to me: however, dreams are a natural phenomenon that have fascinated human beings for centuries.
Even though dreams are not fully understood, researchers have documented a number of facts about sleep. For instance, studies have shown that sleep is classified into four stages according to depth as a sleeper goes from a light sleep to a deep sleep. As people fall asleep they first enter stage one sleep. Research has shown stage one sleep to be the lightest of the four levels of sleep. In this stage the E. E. G, a machine that measures types of brain waves, shows many alpha signals. Alpha signals really are fast low voltage brain signals. The sleeper can also be easily awakened while in this stage of sleep. The next level of sleep is stage two. In which the brain shows sporatic brain wave signals which consist of high-voltage activity known
as sleep spindles. Many people have been know to sleep walk while in this stage. The next level of sleep is stage three. In this stage the brain produces the highest voltage brain waves. This informs us of the appearance of delta waves. While in this stage the sleeperís respiratory and heart rate slows down, and the sleepers temperature drops a few degrees. While in this level of sleep it would take great effort to awaken the sleeper. The next and last level of sleep, before returning to stage one, is the fourth. This is perhaps the longest and deepest level of sleep. While in this level the E.E.G. is dominated by delta waves. After level four sleep is over the sleeper then cycles through the levels again with one difference, level one sleep will also contain raped eye movement (Parker and Parker 30, 31).
Dreams occur during REM sleep, a period characterized by rapid eye movements. This was discovered by a graduate student named Eugene Aserinsky. Aserinsky made the discovery in a project he was trying to find how peoples eyes moved during sleep. He did this by connecting the electrodes of a EEG next to the eyes of the test subject. During the night the machine would occasionally record brain activity. Thinking that the machine was broken , he decided to double check it himself. He then discovered that periods of REM would periodically occur through out the night. Since Aserinskyís discovery we have found a new source of physical data about our REM sleep. For instance, while people sleep, REM occurs about every
ninety minuets. REM sleep occurs about four or five times a night. Researchers have found that then people are deprived of REM sleep, they will experience a rebound effect in which they will try to catch up on their loss of REM sleep by staying in REM sleep longer during subsequent occasions (Dolnick 45).
Furthermore, most dreams contain common elements: settings, characters, actions, and emotions. Nearly all dreams have a setting. The setting may be realistic and familiar to the dreamer, or it can be vague and unfamiliar. The setting can also be used to help the dreamer to understand the meaning of the dream, The setting is used as much as all other aspects of the dream when it is interpreted. The characters are another dream element. The most common character in a dream is the dreamer himself. He may be the main character or just a minor character. Other