When dogs are peacefully sleeping, far from the tiresome play while their tales beautifully wage, do they dream? And if they do so, what kinds of dreams do they experience? And most importantly, why should they dream in the first place?
The internet has been filled with videos of dogs sleepwalking, prompting us to believe that indeed dogs dream. The observant dog owners must have realized that at some point of the dog’s sleep, man’s favorite animal make leg twitches, quiver while the tail is busy wagging, basically indicating that they are deep lost in the slumber land, reports Psychology Corner.
Structurally speaking, a dog’s brain resembles that of human beings. Similar, the sleep waves drawn at ‘bed-time’ are same as those of humans – all bringing about the idea that dogs indeed dream.
Actually we would all be left perplexed if the dogs didn’t dream, going by the recent scientific discovery that animal which are simpler and less intelligent than the dogs do depict dream behavior. A study done by Matthew Wilson and Kenway Louie of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concludes that the rats’ brains at sleep time function in a manner that suggests they are dreaming.
You dream your day
Most of the dreams you experience at night are linked to the kind stuff you did during the day. The same can be said for the rats in this particular study. Thus if a rat ran a complex maze during the day he might be expected to dream about it at night. The researchers obtained information from a rat’s hippocampus (a brain section responsible for memory formation and storage) as the rat continued to learn about the maze. Their finding was that it was possible to pinpoint the kind of electrical patterns to what the rat did. As the rats slept, the same patterns could be identified. In fact, the clarity of the electrical patterns was so vivid that the study experts could undeniably conclude that the rats had entered into a stage where humans normally dream. “The animal is certainly recalling memories of those events as they occurred during the awake state, and it is doing so during dream sleep and that’s just what people do when they dream,” said Wilson.
What do dogs dream about?
Back to dogs – we are fully aware that the language between us and our canine friends blocks us from getting a lot of info from them. But by following some few clues, we are able to compare their sleep and that of other mammals.
Human sleeping is in most cases accompanied with rapid eye movement (REM). Even though we can dream with the absence of REM, there is a huge possibility that the content is boring. REM is said to occur at least 90 to 20 minute of the entire sleep. It is linked to exciting dreams (both scary and sweet dreams), increased breathing rate, rapid eye movements and faster pulse.
The dogs do sleep more often than humans but are also faced with the same signs as we do – the sleep patterns and REM are similar. Like highlighted above, we dream what we did during the day. Thus, considering dog owners are central to the dog’s everyday activities, there is a high possibility that the dog dreams about its owner.
Probably the most difficult question to answer is: why dogs experience dreams.
The reality of the matter is that even scientists themselves lack a confident answer for this question. But a 2000 study suggested that the reason for dreaming is to help us with memory consolidation.