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Are we the only living beings who can dream?

Are we the only living beings who can dream?

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In Summary

A new study from Max Planck Institute for Brain Research shows that humans aren’t the only creature who can dream during sleep. New study point towards their brain's ability contradictory to what we understood so far and suggest some reptiles and rodents can dream like we do. 

Editor Posted by Ansheed

Sleep to start your day.

An inevitable, recurring and satisfying mode of rest that is what sleep is for most of us. In simple language, sleep is more like charging your mobile phone. The human body gets charged during sleep and a multitude of metabolic processes in the brain indeed suggests the importance of this process. A minimum of 6 hours of sleep is highly recommended since it has something to do with muscle growth, tissue repair, skin rejuvenation and memory formation.

It was first thought that only vertebrate’s sleep, later the list was cut short and found that some never sleep. But what about dreaming? Do all those who sleep does dream? Scientists were enthralled and were on a quest to find an answer for that question. Reptile family indeed fascinated many scientists and now they have something more to add to the list. New studies suggest that reptiles exhibit similar brain pattern while sleeping like when humans dream in sleep.

The dream is not exclusive! 

The ability to dream was once thought to be human’s realm, but later many animals were found to have such an ability. In fact, an MIT research does suggest that some animals have even much more complex dreams than we humans do. But later it was found that not animals, but even birds can dream. These birds dream about their daily routine and even they recollect the song they sang the other day.

The dream doesn’t happen on a quick thought. There are atleast 5 stages of sleep to be passed in order to finally dream. Stage 1 ~3 falls into Non-REM cycles whereas 4 & 5 are considered to be REM. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a stage by when the body would have completely been paralyzed and eyes exhibit random movements. During the REM cycle, brain skips into a dream.

What is the significance of dream?

Though theological explanations might be scary sometimes, scientifically it’s just a healthy natural process. A recent study says dreaming is the phase when brain repeats the short term memories events to gradually convert it into a long-term one. That’s why it is always advised getting a good night sleep after a study. This new study from Max Plank Institute for Brain Research conducted a study on The Australian Dragon (Pogona vitticeps). They recorded the brain waves of these reptiles and found a similar pattern to that of a human dreaming. The random rapid eye movement (REM) was also significant with this creatures. This study pointed to the fact that sleep and dreaming aren’t some luxury blessing for mammals, but it is exhibited by most other organism and indeed the dreaming has some vital role in memory formation as it was anticipated.


Slow waves, sharp waves, ripples, and REM in sleeping dragons.Shein-Idelson M, Ondracek JM, Liaw HP, Reiter S, Laurent G. Science. 2016 Apr 29; 352(6285):590-5. [PMID:27126045]