Of course there are probably many reasons why we dream. Some say it is to file away our memories others say they represent our unconscious desires, thoughts, and motivations. Whatever the reason, we know that sleep and dreams are probably important for the pure fact that we spend around one-third of our lives doing it. Given that, I would like to add another reason why I think we dream.
I believe our minds are like computers. because computers associate certain files with certain programs. If you click on a JPG it might open up Photoshop and if you click on an html file it will likely open up an Internet browser. The computer does this so that the file can be executed and processed correctly. Like computers, our minds also associate memories into visions so that the context of the thought can be expressed, understood, and even applied to other thoughts. Certain objects, people, or experiences can invoke fear, love, respect because our minds associate thoughts and experiences with certain emotions and other thoughts to provide a better understanding of our reality. This is how we make sense of all the information we are bombarded with each day.
The other night I awoke from my sleep and caught the tail end of a dream where I clearly saw a thought in my memory become a picture or vision in my mind. It was as if the thought was passed into a processor of some kind and the output was a vision or dream. In light of that. I would like to propose that one function of dreams is to associate thoughts into vision or images to be understood by our minds which allows our full range of sensors to categorise and understand better in what context our thoughts should sit. Further, the fact that dreams are often stories that make sense just supports the idea that our dreams are associating thoughts and experiences with related thoughts and experiences to create a logical context and pattern to make sense of the meaning of each thought in a greater context.
All this is important because it allows us to take all the data, ideas, feelings, and emotions and put them into a context that we can understand rather than each being a stand alone experience that wouldn’t be that useful being disconnected.
This also explains why many people have invented or solved things in their dreams because their thoughts, ideas, frustrations, desires, are all being placed into a greater context and vision to give the mind understanding of the world around us and what it all means. So dreams are sometimes the way that breakthroughs and solutions come. I know myself as a Web designer that I have at times solved difficult problems that I am faced with by simply dreaming the solution as I am able to visualise the problem and see it in a context that shows the solution.
Of course if we believe in God, we know that God can speak to us in dreams. That is because God can speak to us in any situation and by speaking to us in dreams, God is putting things not only into a context that we can understand, but into God’s greater context so we can understand his reality and will. After all, God directs the righteous and he leads us to green pastures. I believe that God speaks to us in dreams in ways that we sometimes cannot comprehend in our conscious minds, but the impact is played out in many things we do each day and the choices we make.
I know from my own experiences and from what others say that indeed God often speaks to us in dreams and at that moment we understand it perfectly, only to forget most of it when we awake. But I think that we haven’t really forgotten it at all. Rather the vision sits within the very fabric of how we perceive reality and helps us to be godly and make better decisions.