Just when you think you could put your stubborn thoughts about work, class or a project to rest as your mind finally surrenders to slumber, well… apparently, you can’t. Your brain is just shifting the brainstorming session to another boardroom – in your dreams.
Dreams, to us, are like the World Wide Web; we constantly try to fathom and understand this virtual world out there, filled with millions and trillions of information, or in this case, somewhere in there, inside our brains.
Well, scientists have found the connection between the knowledge our brain absorbs when we’re awake and the weird and complex imaginings it projects in our sleep. It seems that if we dream about a task or a skill we learned, it’s our brain’s way of understanding, organizing and storing the lesson, like a secret little night school tucked away in our minds as we doze away.
In the study conducted by Harvard University, participants were asked to navigate a virtual maze on a computer, then half were asked to take a long nap while the rest were kept awake, thinking about the maze. Both were tested again afterwards and the sleepers performed better than the participants who stayed awake, although those who remembered dreaming about the maze in particular outperformed everyone.
Research has it that the brain replays the patterns of our activities while we sleep, taking us into a “neural virtual reality”, which has also been connected to lucid dreaming. One other study has even filmed a sleeping participant physically enacting some of the dance movements she learned.
Even though we might not all be physically dancing in our sleep, our brains are however doing the dancing for us: extracting important information from the task, skill or event that we experienced when we are awake and storing it into our data vault.
So the next time you find that you are dreaming about work, perhaps it’s not a strange premonition or a sign of stress or anxiety after all, but just your brain multitasking as it lets you take your rest. And perhaps it is also a sign that napping time should not be exclusive only to nursery schools and Spain…
What are your thoughts on this dreamy theory? Do you often dream about your task or a skill you picked up, and do you remember performing well the next time?