Dreams have often been a source of inspiration, for the greatest artists ever seen and us. But those are just dreams we dream with our eyes open. ( As they should be.) We experience a different kind of dreams as we retire for the day. Some days they’re happy, other days our dreams are so violent and morbid, that we’re left wondering how our mind conjured up with a thought like that. Perhaps it’s what we throughout the day and our mind took bits and pieces from it. New research backs this up, says it may probably be true. The study observed a pattern in brain activity as they attempted to predict angry dreams. The study was published in the J Neurosci journal.
The researched forced on the frontal alpha asymmetry, (FAA), defined as the difference between right and left activity in the frontal area of the brain. It can be used as a marker for short-lived, immediate emotions and their regulations in someone who’s awake. The study checked if the FAA could be used to mark emotions during sleep and if a person’s emotions right before sleeping were related to the emotions they experienced in their dreams.
For the duration of two nights, the research team recorded the paticipants’ EEG. They measured the participants’ brain activity before they went to sleep, while they were sleeping, and in the morning after they awoke. The participants were woken from sleep five minutes after the beginning of each REM stage and gave a report that described the emotions and nature of their dreams. The results revealed that FAA during sleep and evening before sleep tended to predict experiences of anger in dreams and demonstrated a pattern that was previously liked to anger and self-regulation during wakefulness.
There are different theories regarding why people experience emotions, including anger, in their dreams,” Pilleriin Sikka, lead author of the study, told Newsweek. “Some theories argue that dreams may simply reflect our waking emotions and experiences. From this perspective, people who experience more anger and anger-related experiences in their waking life also experience more anger in dreams.”
Sikka also said that other theories say that humans could possibly be processing negative emotions in their dreams, which helps them cope with it as they are awake. “From this perspective, individuals who experience anger in dreams may be better able to cope with such emotions and related situations in their daily waking life,” she said.
This was not the first study on the subject, but the first one that saw a distinctive pattern. One of the previous studies found that the emotions of anger and frustration among individuals often reported nightmares. Another study in 2015 said anxiety levels and physical aggression in dreams were significantly higher for individuals who reported recurrent nightmares (versus people who didn’t suffer from recurrent nightmares). An article for the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute notes that nightmares, in general, can arise from a variety of sources, including medications, stress, anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and mental health disorders like PTSD.