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Confusion was the the main feeling I had when my eyes popped open this morning, I was having a dream (and no not THAT kind of dream) that was so real, so vivid that I felt lost when I awoke. The feeling was so strong that I it took me a few moments to sort my thoughts and not feel the loss of what I had just experienced.

I am not a good sleeper, I find it hard to shut down and let the world drift on without me, but I am an excellent dreamer. Ever since I was a little girl if I found it hard to fall asleep I would start telling myself stories in my head, me mostly in the lead, and eventually I would drift off into a world I created and continue on the adventures I made up. And every now and then I will have a dream that belies what it really is, a phantasy that only exist within myself. I remember waking up one morning with the taste of strawberries in my mouth because I had dreamt I was at a pick-nick, or having a sore foot because I had been walking for so long in my fictional world and once I nearly felt sick with rage because of what someone had done in my dream. The funny thing is that because these dreams feel so real they have left traces of experiences that feels like memories even though they never really happened.

I know that physiologist and scientist struggle to understand why we dream, although many have come up with some answers over the years. Freud created the idea that we dream what we sexually desire, we just dress it up in different clothes. But studies show that there is so much more to what happens in our minds at night. Some say that dreaming is just a way to keep our minds occupied while we reboot, rest and process but the levels of dopamine released in our brains while we dream suggest something else.

Dopamine is important for reward-driven learning, it makes us feel good and can be highly addictive. And interestingly enough the hallucinations of schizophrenia and dreaming have the same chemical background, both release dopamine in the same area of the brain making it hard for minds to see reality.

Philosophers, writers and creative minds see dreams as a source of unlimited possibility. German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” and American writer John Updike wrote “Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them“. No matter where you look everyone seems to have their own opinion on dreams and why we have them.

So as the day begins with my body and mind still tingling with a feeling and a memory of a unreal reality and ABBA sings of having a dream I think I will follow Cinderella in her idea that  A dream is a wish your heart makes.

Why we dream