By David G. SmithDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Reuters) – When a dream is triggered, the brain often goes into a phase of deep sleep.
But in a new study, scientists at the University of Maryland and University of Pennsylvania suggest that dreams that involve symbols, such as dream lights, can stimulate a deeper sleep process.
Dreams that involve dream symbols play an important role in regulating sleep, which is a vital process that is crucial to mental and physical health, said the study’s senior author, neuroscientist David G.-Smith.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that when dreams involve symbols or abstract concepts, the dreamer’s brain releases an alerting chemical called GABA, which causes a rise in the brain’s sleep hormone melatonin.
Melatonin is a natural sleep-promoting hormone.
But the sleep hormone is not as effective in the long-term when it comes to regulating sleep because it only regulates the body’s internal clock.
A new study by the researchers found that dreams involving symbols or symbols that were abstract or meaningless were able to trigger a sleep-inducing sleep hormone.
Dream symbols, like stars, animals and animals, could be a symbol for the moon or a symbol to a dream state, and so on.
The team then used a technique called optogenetics, which aims to mimic the function of sleep-related brain activity by mimicking the way our brains interpret dream signals.
“Dreams with complex symbols could potentially trigger a deeper state of sleep,” G-Smith said.
“The study was designed to explore the effects of symbols and dream symbols on sleep-regulating processes in sleep-deprived animals.
The findings indicate that dream symbols can play a critical role in the regulation of sleep, in terms of regulating the production of melatonin and maintaining healthy sleep homeostasis.”
A key part of sleep is the regulation and release of melorotatory chemicals called sleep-wake cycles.
The researchers found dreams that involved dream symbols triggered the release of the sleep-hormone melatonin, and dreams that included no symbols activated a similar release of GABA.
“These findings suggest that symbols could play a key role in sleep regulation, particularly for dream sequences, because symbols could be used to trigger the release and maintenance of melalotatory signals in the dreaming brain,” said co-author Dr. Jonathan P. Kroll, a research associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Maryland School of Arts and Sciences.
In a study earlier this year, Kroll and his colleagues also found that the same sleep-regulation mechanism can be triggered by symbols that involve concepts.
For example, in one study, researchers gave animals a choice between an unfamiliar object and an unfamiliar toy.
When they tried to play with the toy, the animals would release melatonin to the hippocampus, which controls sleep.
In the second study, the researchers gave the animals an unfamiliar ball, and then presented them with the ball.
They found that once the animals saw the ball, they would release GABA to the brain, which helps to regulate the release.
The next day, researchers measured how much melatonin was released by the animals in each situation, and they found that this release was more or less similar to the release during a normal waking state.
In addition, they found similar levels of GABA and melatonin in the animals’ brains after they had experienced a dream that involved a ball or a toy.
The researchers said their results showed that symbols that are associated with sleep could help to regulate sleep.
“In contrast to melatonin release, which occurs during waking states, dream symbols might be used during sleep to regulate melatonin levels,” said G- Smith.
“This suggests that symbols might also have a role to play in regulating melatonin.”
The researchers plan to continue their research and further explore the connection between symbols and sleep.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University Health Network, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the European Research Council.