Dreams An average human being spends about one third of their life asleep. Our bodies need and crave sleep because they require long periods of rest in order to restore and rejuvenate as well as to grow muscle, and repair tissue. Sleep is crucial to the wellbeing of our health, both physical and mental. On top of that one third of our lives we spend asleep, one quarter of that time is spent dreaming. According to alleydog.com, “the psychological definition of a dream is a succession of images, emotions, sensations, and ideas that occur during periods of REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep.” Dreams have fascinated people for a very long time. The Epic of Gilgamesh, often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature, was written in around 3500 BCE and included the first recorded dream interpretation. Although the average amount of time dreaming is two out of eight hours, 90% of the dream is lost in the first minute we wake up. The inner workings of sleeping can be broken down into five steps. The first stage included a very light sleep and the muscle activity slows down. Breathing patterns and the heart rate slows as well as slight decrease in body temp in the second stage. Next is the third stage, deep sleep begins and the brain generates slow delta waves. As you enter a very deep sleep in the fourth stage, your muscle activity becomes limited and your brain produces delta waves. These four stages are NREM sleep, or non-REM sleep. The last and final stage, the fifth stage, is now REM sleep. Your brain waves speed up and this is where the dreaming occurs. Muscles start to relax, your heart rate increases and your breathing is rapid and slow. REM sleep often occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. As stated before this stage is primarily characterized by the movement of eyes which is why it is called rapid eye movement sleep, REM. Our brain activity increases to the same level, or even higher, as when we are awake. Although the brain is running really fast, our body becomes paralyzed to make sure our feet don’t run as well. This is caused by a release of glycine, an amino acid, from the brainstem onto the motor neurons. Motor neurons are neurons that conduct impulses outward from the brain or spinal cord. Basically all of this happens to make sure we don’t act out our dreams. The fifth and final stage is where most of the dreaming takes place. Our brain cycle sends out four different types of brain waves. The delta wave is the slowest wave, zero to four cycles per second, and is present in deep sleep. Theta waves are sent in four to seven cycles per second and are present in stage one sleep, or light sleep. Alpha waves are discharged in eight to thirteen cycles per second during REM sleep, which means they are also sent when you are awake. And the fourth wave type are beta waves. They are emitted thirteen to forty per second and are usually only seen in very stressful situations. They are also seen in situations that require very strong mental concentration and focus. These four brain waves are what make up the electroencephalogram (EEG), which is a test or record of electrical brain activity. It is said that information that we learn before we go to bed tends to stick with us longer than information we absorb any other time. Sleep is very necessary in that it allows for our brains to produce these waves and activity. Most people will experience recurring or similar dreams multiple times in their lives. This can place in a short period of their lives or throughout their lifetime.