Why You Always Wake Up Right Before the Best Part of a Dream


Human beings have been fascinated by their dreams since the beginning of time, often believing them to carry powerful messages and answers to pressing questions. Just as nightmares can leave us traumatized in the morning, a truly amazing dream can put a smile on your face for the rest of the day. The problem is, why do we always wake up just before the best part of our dreams, essentially the climax?

Why You Always Wake Up Right Before the Best Part of a Dream

First, let’s touch on the different stages of sleep, as each stage determines how vivid your dreams are, and the control you can more or less have over them them.

1. Stage 1 (NREM1 or NI)
This is basically the first stage between being awake and asleep, also referred to as somnolent or drowsy sleep. At this point the muscles are still relatively active, as well as the eyes. During the stage 1 phase breathing becomes more steady and the heart rate gradually slows down. It’s extremely rare to dream during this stage, although twitches, knee jerks, and sudden movements are quite common while the body shifts into deeper sleep and brainwaves begin to transition into more complex patterns. This period of sleep usually lasts 10 minutes or less, making up about 5% of total sleep time.

2. Stage 2 (NREM2 or N2)
This is technically the first “real” stage of sleep, in which muscle activity slows down almost to the point of absolute stillness, and awareness of one’s external environment decreases considerably. If any sounds are overheard, the sleeper generally won’t be able to understand their context. According to How Sleep Works, sleepers often pass though this stage more than once during the night, with more time spent in stage 2 sleep than in any other.

3. Stage 3 (NREM3 N3)
Also known as deep, delta, or slow-wave sleep (SWS), this is the phase in which the sleeper is completely cut off from the world and unaware of any outside stimuli. Stage 3 sleep usually occurs during the first half of the night, and accounts for around 15%-20% of total sleep time. Blood pressure, brain temperature, breathing and heart rates are all at their lowest during the stage 3 sleep cycle, with dreaming the most likely at this point. The processing of dream-induced information takes place during this time, and it’s extremely difficult to be woken up.

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