The Origin of Dreams

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The Origin of Dreams

It is late and you are tired. You slide between the soft sheets and tug on the comforter until it reaches your chin. Your head sinks gratefully into the pillow, the smooth folds of pillowcase caressing your cheek. Your heavy eyelids fall closed. Slowly, all the muscles in your body relax. Your body is comfortable and ready for sleep, but your mind remains active. You think over the day’s events, the funny moments, the people you saw, the things you forgot to do. You think about what you will do tomorrow and the next day and next month and so on. Your breathing deepens and your heart rate slows. You realize you are no longer directing the pattern of your thoughts: they are moving off on a path of their own. But you are too tired to care. You drift to the edge of the world of sleep. After about 90 minutes of peaceful inactivity, your brain becomes extremely alert, but you do not awaken. You have entered the period of sleep know as Rapid Eye Movement, where dreams most often occur. Random, disconnected scenes unfold before you like images on a movie screen. You see your parents waving to you from across a crowded room. You are transported to a large, sunlit meadow, where you are playing with a kitten, your first childhood pet. You can hear the kitten’s quiet purring, and you are filled with sensations of happiness and tranquility. Then you see your own body floating high above the ground, propelling itself effortlessly. You don’t understand these feelings and images, but they all seem to make perfect sense, and you don’t question them. Upon waking, recollection of the previous night’s journey will seem hazy and clouded, if you can remember it at all.

This series of events occurs every night i...

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