What really is going on when you dream?
The deepest sleep state is called REM, which stands for Rapid Eye Movements. This is when the majority of dreams occur. Neurologically, our brain activity in this state is similar to being awake but the activity in the prefrontal cortex (that area involved in higher reasoning and logic) is shut off, allowing the emotional centres to become highly active. This gives one explanation for why our dreams are highly influenced by our daily experiences, worries, and desires while also being very abstract or sometimes difficult to understand.
It can be very unsettling to wake from a dream where you can't quite explain the details. Your whole day could be thrown off by the strong feelings it leaves, which linger with you even for days.
Some common odd dreaming-like states are:
Reoccurring Dreams – When the same dream reoccurs multiple times or a similar theme reoccurs.
Nightmares - When the content of your dreams are disturbing, unsettling, and frightening.
False Awakening - When consciousness is obtained but awareness is not. This is likely to happen in a familiar setting, could be accompanied by paralyses and because the dreamer is not aware they are asleep the experience could be quite unsettling.
Lucid dreaming - Popularized by the movie Inception, this is when the dreamer becomes aware of their consciousness within a dream state and are able to act as an active participant contributing to the dream content.
Sleepwalking - When one's physical body is awakened but the individual remains unconscious.
Have you experienced any of these?