Why Do You Dream?
The answer to this question is debatable, and you will find a wide range of answers, depending on whom you ask. The content and meaning of dreams has been a subject of fascination for poets, artists, and philosophers for thousands of years, but real scientific research on the subject has only emerged over the last hundred years or so.
Many scientists will tell you that while dreaming is an altered state of consciousness, the dream itself is a by-product of the brain's electrical discharges and wave patterns — a result of the brain's activities to restore the body during sleep. Neurons are fired during the electrical discharges, and depending on where they end up, differing images within the dream will occur. For instance, if neurons are fired in the part of the brain that maintains your balance, you may dream that you are falling and may even jerk in your sleep to try to keep your balance.
However, not everyone accepts this explanation. Some psychoanalysts believe, as Freud did, that dreams are an outlet for people to live out their desires — desires that may not be socially acceptable — or resolve conflicts. According to this concept, dreams have an underlying meaning that the dreamer is unaware of. Each element of the dream is symbolic of the individual's innermost wishes, conflicts, and/or motives. Though dreams may have a deep-rooted psychological meaning, there isn't a reliable and objective way to interpret one's dreams.
Many cultures believe that dreams are prophetic and/or contain messages from the spirit world. Therefore, dreams are elevated to a high level of importance and are interpreted in all seriousness. In this way, dreams can have a direct impact on the lives of several or all members within the culture.
Still others believe that dreams are a direct result of life experiences and are an unconscious continuation of a person's conscious thoughts and activities during the day. During these dreams a person may express anxiety or worry over a problem that is current in her life. She may also be able to solve that problem or find the root of the problem by interpreting the images, thoughts, and emotions of the dream.
Of course, there are more explanations than those offered here. Individuals, scientists, and cultures are continuously studying and interpreting dreams. However, no one explanation has been substantially proven as the reason why people dream.