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I. (Attention Getter) Have you ever dreamt that you were walking along the side of a road or along a cliff and suddenly you trip? You’re falling for what seems like forever, but before hitting the ground, you wake up? This is considered to be a falling dream, and ironically, falling dreams occur when you are falling asleep. They are usually accompanied by muscle spasms and twitches of the entire body. Although these dreams occur while we are falling asleep, they interpret a completely different meaning. Falling can mean you are insecure, you are losing grip, or you simply have fears that need to be faced. Patricia Garfield, the author of Creative Dreaming states: “there is some problem that is making you feel helpless like you have no support, so next time when you wake up startled from a falling dream, ask yourself what upcoming events do I fear I will fail?”
II. (Introduce Topic) Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to understand the different functions of the human body, how we move, talk, and even act. Many of these physiological behaviors have been explained to some extent. However, one area of the human body that has baffled researchers, is that of the mind. Many things that go on inside the mind that don’t make sense, and serves no real explanation as to why or how things happen. One of the most fascinating and mysterious sections of psychology is that of dreaming. Even though there are numerous theories about dreams; whomever you are, wherever you live, you will dream. Whether it's a good dream or a nightmare is up to your mind, but there must be some reasoning behind dreams, right?
III. (Establish Credibility) I have always been fascinated with the mechanisms of dreaming, and I thought it’d be a fascinating topic to research for this informative speech.
IV. (Preview Main Points) Although we have experienced countless dreams in our lifetime, do we ever stop to think: how dreams occur? How dreams affect our lives? Do dreams even mean anything? Today in my informative speech about dreams, I hope to enlighten you about dreams forming in our minds, the importance of dreams, and lastly the interpretations of dreams.
(Transition Statement) Understanding the sleep cycle is the first part of understanding dreams and how dreams happen.
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I. (First Main Point) Sleep is divided into two main blocks: NREM sleep and REM sleep.
A. When we sleep, we go through five stages lasting approximately 90-120 minutes, repeating itself several times throughout the night.
1. We first experience Non-Rapid Eye Movement, or (NREM) sleep, which can be divided into four stages.
a. Stage 1 - Very light sleep, in which it is easy to wake up
Stage 2 - Slightly deeper sleep
Stages 3/4 - Our deepest sleep
b. Our brain activity through these stages gradually slow down, so that by deep sleep - we experience our slowest brain waves.
c. About 90 minutes after we go to sleep and after the fourth sleep stage, we begin REM sleep.
2. Rapid-Eye Movement, or (REM) sleep is the final stage of our sleep cycle.
a. During REM sleep several physiological changes take place.
b. Our heart rate and breathing quickens, our blood pressure rises, we are not able to regulate our body temperature as well, and our brain activity increases.
c. The rest of our body is paralyzed until we leave REM sleep; which explains why were unable to react, preventing us from acting out our dreams.
B. Although dreams can occur in any of the stages of sleep, the most vivid and memorable dreams occur during REM sleep. But why?
1. During REM sleep, the brain is just as active as it is during waking.
a. It is the time when the areas of our brain that are associated with the functions of learning and memory are stimulated.
b. The dreams are the result of the work our brains are doing in segregating, analyzing, and filing the information absorbed during the day.
c. Our brain revisits certain past memories to use them as a type of reference point to simplify the filing process.
d. Which explains why past memories are sometimes mixed with more recent memories in random dreams.
2. While we are dreaming, these highly activated areas of the brain communicate in different ways than during waking consciousness, and allow for emotions to be processed differently.
a. The limbic system speaks in the language of symbolic imagery; the symbols/images you see in your dreams can help change perceptions and resolve conflicts in waking state.
b. The amygdala assigns emotional significance to information it receives, and has a pretty loose grip on reality.
c. For ex: Our reaction to a scary movie. The movie may not really be threatening, but the amygdala perceives it as real.
II. (Second Main Point) In order to better understand how dreams occur, I will introduce you to the two main theories of dreaming: Psychoanalytical and the Activation-synthesis theory.
A. The psychoanalytical theory, proposed by Freud was a combination of daily activities and suppressed wishes.
1. Freud believed that nothing you do occurs by chance; every action and thought is motivated by your unconscious mind at some level.
a. In order to live in a civilized society, you have a tendency to hold back your urges and hide your impulses.
b. Because they can’t be expressed in a social setting, our urges and impulses are expressed in our unconscious mind, through our dreams.
2. For this reason, Freuds theory about dreams focused primarily on sexual desires and symbolism.
a. For example, any cylindrical object in a dream represents the male’s private, which a cave or an enclosed object represents a woman's private.
b. Therefore, to dream about a train entering a tunnel would represent sexual intercoarse; which according to Freud indicates a supressed longing for sex.
c. He lived during the sexually repressed Victorian era, which explains his focus.
B. Hobson and McCarley proposed the Activation-synthesis theory, which in turn threw out the psychoanalytic idea of Freud.
1. Hobson and McCarley’s idea was that dreams were actually the cause of activity in the brain.
a. Research of what was going on in the brain during sleep gave them the idea that dreams were simply the result of random brain impulses that pulls images from our memory.
b. These images don’t form stories in our dreams by themselves, instead our waking mind attempts to interpret them into meaningful stories.
2. Even though the majority of dreams make no sense, Hobson believes that every now and then there is a dream that one finds useful.
III. (Third Main Point) Dreams play a significant role in our ongoing lives.
A. The content of our dreams tells us how the brain processes information, stimulates our brain so that we can better prepare for survival and problem solving, improves our memory, as well as reflecting our emotional concerns.
1. In our day to day lives, we wear a mask to hide whatever may be going on inside.
a. We have to attain an education, work to earn a living, and take care of our families.
b. We certainly can’t be wearing our hearts on our sleeve, can we?
c. Holding back our emotions often find their way into our unconscious mind, during our dreams.
2. Sometimes hiding our emotions, show how much our lives need to change.
a. If we are feeling anxious, it is fairly easy to distract ourselves throughout the day, but at night our dreams have another story to tell.
b. When we hold back our feelings and emotions, they build up, and we reach about where they need to be released.
c. If you find yourself angry all the time, it doesn’t leave you much room to be good to anyone, especially yourself.
d. Therefore, dreams are important because they open a gateway of healing, and an opportunity to learn about ourselves.
B. While we are dreaming, our unconscious mind speaks to us in symbols.
1. Behind symbols, there is meaning that enables us to see the hidden parts of ourselves.
a. For example, I am speaking in English. (symbols)
b. Dreaming about a head in a refrigerator; a head symbolizes thoughts and a fridge symbolizes preserving something.
c. Therefore, the dream is telling you preserve your thoughts, ideas, etc..
2. According to dreammoods.com, most of experience common dreams such as being chased, being naked in a public place, or losing our teeth.
a. Dreaming about being chased represents fear and anxiety, wanting to run away from certain situations.
b. Dreaming about being naked reflects our vulnerability or feelings of shamefulness.
c. Dreaming about teeth falling out implies that the dreamer has anxieties about their appearance and how others perceive them.
I. (Signal Closing) A dream is defined in Webster's Dictionary as a "sequence of sensations, images, thoughts, etc., passing through a sleeping person's mind". Dreams are a nightly gift and a part of the natural process of being alive. In our dreams, we can go anywhere, we can be anybody, and we can do anything. When we dream, we are like passengers on a
moving train, unable to control our actions and choose our surroundings.
II. (Recap Main Points) In order to understand what dreams are, we must be able to understand how they occur while we are sleeping, the historical viewpoint of them, as well as the importance of their existence and symbolism.
III. (Memorable Closing) John Lennon once said, “I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” and indeed he wasn’t. We are all dreamers, all people of diverse background, of varying experiences, and difference in ages experience dreams. Whether we remember our dreams or not, we all experience them.
"An Online Guide To Dream Interpretation." An Online Guide To Dream Interpretation. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.
"Dreams: Symbolism." ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.
Lennon, John. Imagine, John Lennon [music from the Motion Picture]. EMI, 1988. MP3.