How dreaming makes you fitter, smarter and happier – and tips on recalling them

From being chased, to believing our teeth are falling out – many dreams are totally bizarre (and not to mention terrifying) – but according to one expert, they're crucial to our health.

Science journalist Alice Robb believes dreams are integral to our psychological wellbeing.

"Dreams play a crucial role in some of our most important emotional and cognitive systems, helping us form memories, solve problems and maintain our psychological health," she writes in Why We Dream.

In fact, Robb thinks we should be cherishing our dreams.

She believes that brushing them off is "as though we are throwing away a gift from our brains without bothering to open it".


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Robb explains that during sleep, the frontal lobes of our brain (in charge of decision making) "go dark".

We're also unable to reach our hippocampus – where new memories are formed – which results in the brain reverting to "the memory storage system, where it’s apt to land on far-flung places."

This explains why we often recall terrifying or uncomfortable memories in our dreams.

But, Robb argues that this isn't a bad thing.

Several studies point to dreaming having a positive impact on our day-to-day life skills.

A study from 2000 scrutinised the sleep of 27 students who played Tetris for hours every day.

Three-fifths of the students who were woken during their REM cycles (the time most dreams occur) revealed they had seen blocks and bricks in their dreams.

According to the study, those who needed to improve on their Tetris skills had a higher number of visions.

Researchers carried out the same study with five amnesiacs.

They found that although the amnesiacs couldn't remember the game, their scores drastically improved each day.

In a separate study, researchers contacted 700 medical students the night before their exams.

They found the more students dreamt about their test, the better score they achieved.

In a similar sense, there's evidence that dreams can make us more content, too.

In a study of 60 divorcees, over 30 per cent of those who dreamt of their ex partners had better moods, finances and sex lives just 12 months later.

“Dreaming about the divorce, it seemed, had helped them get over it,” wrote Robb.

Many believe dreams can alert our conscious mind to issues within our bodies.

For example, those with sleep apnea (a disorder that can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke) often dream of being choked before they've even been diagnosed.

It certainly seems dreams are important, but with three per cent of the population unable to remember their dreams – how can we hold onto them?

“Reminding yourself of your intention as you fall asleep can yield a bounty of memories in the morning,” wrote Robb.

She also recommends keeping a dream journal, avoiding alcohol before bed and exercising regularly.

Waking up naturally (without an alarm) is also said to be a good way to recall those nighttime memories.

Earlier this week, we told you about the women with an addiction to sleeping pills that nearly ‘wrecked their lives’ and disturbed their naps as doctors dole out 15m prescriptions.

We also revealed this mum-of-three CHARGES her family £30 per person for her bank-breaking £500 Christmas dinner.

And we showed you women are being asked to record ‘consent videos’ before sex by men who are afraid they’ll be accused of rape or assault.

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