This blog reveals what goes on in your mind when you think, make decisions, set goals, etc. and how subconscious and unconscious thoughts and processes influence you in your daily life using simple logic.
By Parag Jasani owww.YourDailyLife.blog Updated on
they consume one third of our lifetime, sleeping and dreaming are among the
biggest mysteries of mankind.
research on the topic is full of data like frequencies, wavelengths, oxygen
levels, heart rates, etc. What it does not explain is the reason why we sleep
and dream, which is revealed in the following explanation:
three core reasons why we sleep and dream, which are 1) Categorization, 2)
Distributed Processing and 3) Acausal Story Creation & Processing.
Following is their explanation in detail…
Reason 1 –
aspect of natural
selection has designed our brain to make optimized decisions for its ongoing
interactions based on its dynamically changing environments and conditions.
It stores all incoming information in a
systematic manner, which enables it to quickly retrieve information connected
to our ongoing interactions, thereby helping in making decisions on how to deal
You go to
a shop to purchase a t-shirt. You explain to the salesperson what type of
t-shirt you are looking for. All clothes in the shop are arranged in the racks
systematically by their types and sizes. Because of such systematic storage,
instead of going through the entire collection of clothes in the shop, the
salesperson just needs to navigate through the racks using classifications,
speeding up the process of fetching the t-shirt of your choice.
similar way, our brain stores all incoming information systematically and links
them to what I call “awareness buffer”.
interacting, it navigates through a web of links to search for information and
summaries stored in the memory that are related to such ongoing interactions in
multiple ways (all of which is explained in detail in the post How
Does Our Mind Develop). Doing so helps in drastically speeding up the process of fetching
information related to ongoing interactions.
information gained by our brain keeps accumulating on an ongoing basis, the
accuracy of categories and hierarchies where it is stored becomes more and more
significant for its efficient execution. Even a small deviation can snowball
into devastating effect on the long run, which is one of the reasons sleeping
is a must.
brain is always busy processing information, storing information from such
ongoing interactions in precise categories and hierarchies in real-time is not
possible. Such processing requires dedicated processing resources.
accomplish the same, the brain allots a particular time for such processing,
which is when system 2, i.e., the self, switches to internal processing
mode. This is when the person goes to sleep.
mode, it resumes the process of storing information in precise categories and
hierarchies without external disturbances.
To make it
simple, I will use the following analogy:
moving to a new house. You have engaged movers and packers to pack and
transport your belongings to the new house. In the new house, they place
the items in room-wise locations. Once they finish their work and leave, you
begin placing each item in the exact location-where it is supposed to be
without any external disturbance.
similar manner, information from your daily interactions is stored in general
categories and hierarchies in your waking hours. Once you are asleep, that is,
when your system 2 goes into standby mode and switches to internal processing,
the process of classification is resumed to store it in precise categories and
hierarchies without external disturbance from the sensory system.
Reason 2 –
explained in the article How
Mind Emerges from the Brain, our brain is designed by the evolutionary process to make optimized
it achieves by processing them in two ways, direct logic processing and
contextual logic processing. As both are different, they cannot be processed
using common processing resources. The reason our brains have evolved with two
hemispheres is to enable them to be processed separately.
are examples of both of them:
logic processing of a person on a diet makes the decision to eat the cake kept in
front of him, Contextual logic processing warns him to avoid it for
logic processing of a person meeting an acquaintance, based on his sweet talk and
body language, takes him as a good friend, Contextual logic processing
warns him to be careful, as he has cheated him in the past
As it is
possible for direct logic processing to 1) pause and resume its processing by
saving and retrieving the data it is processing and as it can be 2) driven
non-consciously, system 1 resumes processing it in the sleep state without any
disturbance from the conscious system 2, i.e., the self, as that is when it is
switched to internal processing mode.
sleep mode, it resumes such processing by prioritizing parts of interactions it
has evaluated as significant, either consciously or non-consciously, to reach
interactions use a high amount of direct logic processing, which, as explained
earlier, is distributed between multiple sleep and awake states by pausing and
resuming, and thus, is cumulative.
interactions are not processed in the sleep state due to lack of sleep, the
brain’s processing can become highly cumbersome, which is another reason why
sleeping is a must.
mode, the contextual logic processing of system 2, which is in internal mode,
helps system one’s direct logic processing as-and-when necessary, thereby
aiding both direct and contextual logic processing. Such processing is the
basis of the idiom sleep on it. An example of the same is when we say, ”It is a
tough decision, I’ll let you know tomorrow, let me sleep over it.”
of such processing is also used in the Acausal Story Creation stage, which is
explained in the next topic.
load of categorization and distributed processing keeps accumulating throughout
the waking hours in the daytime, the earlier a person goes to sleep, the lesser
load of information his brain has to process, the better it performs.
such better performance, when he wakes up early, his brain is more efficient
and ready to take on the next day’s interactions. The same is the first causal
explanation behind Benjamin Franklin’s popular quote, “Early to bed and early
to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. It is also the reason why many
of us feel fresh on waking up in the morning.
and distributed processing stages are the reasons why memories get stronger in
sleep, which is known as memory consolidation in sleep studies.
Reason 3 –
Acausal Story Creation and Processing
As we make
decisions based on the knowledge we have gained from past interactions and how
we project them into the future, it is pretty much fixed what decision-we will
make given a particular set of circumstances. As can be derived from the same,
our decisions are based on causality, i.e., cause-and-effect thinking. E.g. “If
I do this, that will happen”, “If he comes, I’ll go with him”, “if my pen
breaks, I’ll buy a new one”, etc.
cause-and-effect thinking, we typically do not consider anything other than
what such basic pattern of thinking offers while making decisions.
the idea that nobody is perfect enough to claim that they always make the best
set of decisions to reach their goals, such limitation is a big disadvantage
for us, especially as all our critical decision making and problem solving is
based on such cause-and-effect thinking. Being habituated with such thinking
prevents our mind to be creative using “out-of-the-box” thinking.
natural selection has designed the mechanism of dreaming to resolve such
limitation. The primary goal of the mechanism of dreaming is to optimize the
decision making process using acausal thought processes, which are thought
processes that are not generated by cause-and-effect thinking. Such thinking
frees our brain from the confines of the perfectly valid, but rigid way of
cause-and-effect thinking, which is reflected in the quote by Albert Einstein,
“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”.
dreaming mechanism works:
are awake, your system 1 processes sensory data from your ongoing interactions.
If preset data for perceptions is found hard-wired for such data in system 1,
it converts them into perceptions, which, along with rest of the sensory data, i.e.,
sensations, are fed to your system 2. Your system 2 uses such sensations and
perceptions to decode the contents of your interactions, which help you in
deciding on how to deal with them.
When you are In the Acausal Story Creation
and Processing stage of sleep, the same system 1 feeds data to your system 2,
which is when it is switched to internal processing mode, but the data it feeds
is not from sensory inputs, but from the memory of past sensations and
perceptions resulting from processing such sensory inputs using thought
processes. Following is the detailed description of the same:
the requirements of acausal thinking mentioned earlier, the brain has evolved a
mechanism over thousands of generations that creates its own acausal stories, i.e.,
stories that are coherent and grammatically valid, but do not have any causal basis
and thus, their content does not have any purpose or meaning.
understanding the dream creation process, it is important to know the following:
2 links hierarchically stored concepts from its database to memory
locations in system 1’s databank based on their categories. For example,
data of concepts like your residence, cars, pets, teachers, etc. are
linked to their respective physical locations in system 1. Such
arrangement makes it possible for both systems to navigate either by
category or by hierarchy, as and when required.
work by system 1 projecting sensation and perception data associated to
the story to system 2.
process of creating the initial sentence long narration to creating the entire
story of the dream happens in four steps, which are as follows:
Step 1 –
Random Root Sentence Retrieval: System 1 retrieves data of a randomly
selected past interaction from the memory to form a sentence long narration.
E.g. Jay went to the market to
Step 2, Acausal Sentence Creation. Next, it replaces
concepts contained in the sentence long narration with randomly selected concepts
from their same categories in the categorized storage of links in system 1. It
also replaces data of other elements contained in the narration with data of
random elements that are grammatically identical in structure. Both are then
used to make a sentence long acausal narration.
E.g. Roy joined the navy to
serve the country.
random selections from the same template could have been:
Neha entered the stadium to
watch the game of cricket.
Sunil waved towards the car to
narrations, “Roy”, “Neha” and “Sunil” are cousins and thus, their data is linked
to the classification “cousins” in the location in system 1 where data of all
cousins is stored. The same is with other concepts.
Step 3 –
Root Story Creation: Next, it searches for a full-length interaction whose
pattern or summarization matches (remotely, if not closely) the content of such
randomly created sentence, e.g., the one where Neha enters the stadium to watch
the game of cricket.
If it does
not find a matching full-length experience, it creates a new one using a
pattern or summary based on unresolved thoughts and emotions that are ingrained
in the memory and are marked as significant.
Final Story Creation. Next, it replaces concepts contained in such matching
experience with randomly selected concepts from their respective categories
linked to system 1. It also replaces data of elements contained in such
matching experience with data of randomly selected elements that are grammatically
identical in structure. Both are then used by system 1 to create the story of
story is created, the sensation and perception data associated to the concepts
and elements of the story is retrieved and fed to system 2 (which is in
internal processing mode, i.e. in sleep state), which receives it as a dream.
system 1 is the homeland of dreams, which generates such stories, if there
are unresolved thoughts and emotions ingrained in its memory, based on
their strength and significance to the self, they may influence, and also
be a part of the narration process, which is the basis of dreams that
contain people and elements known to us
reason why some dreams are in metaphoric form is based on the fact that
templates for creating their stories are based on summaries of past
experiences (as explained in steps 3 and 4). They get metaphoric form as
concepts and elements contained in such experiences are replaced by system
1 with randomly selected concepts and elements that are linked to same or
similar category in the categorized storage in its databank, as explained
though dreams are generated by system 1, which uses direct logic
processing, the reason why many of them do not seem to be logical is that
system 2 is in internal processing mode, that is, in sleep state and thus,
is unable to correct them using contextual logic, the way we do when we
the acausal story of the dream is processed with 1) the result of the
distributed processing stage and 2) unresolved thoughts and emotions ingrained
in the memory, as explained earlier, and utilized if beneficial.
are the reasons why our brain goes through such an elaborate process to create
usage of 1) past experiences as templates and 2) concepts and other
elements that are familiar to the self make the story realistic and comprehensible
to system 2, which is in internal processing mode
of sensation and perception data associated to feed the story gives the
feeling that you’re experiencing the content of the dream, i.e., treating
it as an actual experience and not as a story being told to you
provides an extra stream of thoughts that match your experiences, but are
not based on causation, which helps in both, categorization and
distributed processing stages
sleep state, processing in the brain goes through what is known as Non-REM and
REM sleep stages (where REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, which is a stage in
sleep when eyes move rapidly), as follows:
sleep stage 1 – which is Transition to Light Sleep
sleep stage 2 – which is Categorization
sleep stage 3– which is Distributed Processing
sleep – which is Acausal Story Creation & Processing
The reason for rapid eye moment in the REM stage is that eye
movements add to realism when dreams are received by system 2, do not consume much energy and do not clash with other processes.
Cycles and their Purposes
sleep mode, stages of sleep cycle between non-REM sleep and REM sleep
stages in an oscillatory manner multiple times. Their sequence is based on each
stage gaining from the previous stages individually, collectively or
cumulatively, in terms of effectively creating and processing the acausal story
with the results of distributed processing and categorization stages. It also
processes the same with unresolved thoughts and emotions, if any.
is simplified as follows:
accurate categorization leads to improved distributed processing, which leads
to further improved categorization, which leads to further improved distributed
processing, which leads to improved acausal processing, which leads to further
improved categorization, and so on.
gaining from previous stages, the other reason why sleep stages cycle is based
on the fact that as all of them are equally important for the overall sleep
processing, if for some reason the sleep period is curtailed, e.g., if a person
aborts his sleep, each stage is curtailed proportionately.
Cycling of sleep stages is the core reason it
does not make sense to study the topics of sleep and dreams individually.
brain enters sleep state, a standby mechanism is activated. In the standby
mode, the non-conscious system 1 keeps a watch on sensory inputs based on a
threshold. If any sensory input crosses such threshold, it alerts system 2, i.e.,
the self, which is in internal processing mode, i.e., in sleep mode, causing it
to switch to general processing mode (i.e., causing it to wake up).
one can change such threshold to some degree using system 2, it is chiefly set
by system 1 (often dynamically) and differs from person to person, which is the
reason some people can be more easily awakened than others.
can be derived from the dream creation process, system 1 creates a
grammatically valid and coherent story which is free of cause-and-effect
thinking out of elements that are randomly selected from the memory and
thus, have no purpose or meaning other than acausal processing. The same
is the reason why many of our dreams contain people and elements that are
known to us, but are not intended to mean anything to us
some dreams are influenced by thoughts and emotions ingrained in the
memory based on their strength and significance to the system 2, i.e., the
self, they just “come for a ride” and are not created for mental or
emotional fulfilment. Such dreams only reveal thoughts and emotions that
are ingrained in the memory
they are generated from random data, negative dreams do not indicate that
a person has a negative mind, unless they occur on a regular basis, which,
based on the reasoning given earlier, demonstrates that the person has
negative thoughts and emotions ingrained in his memory. The same goes for
positive entities like objects of desire which are ingrained in the
memory, for example, a girl of one’s dreams
dreaming also occurs in the distributed processing stage, but as it is
based on recalling data of distributed processing, which is fragmental,
there is no story or visual imagery attached to it (the way it is in REM
sleep). The same is also responsible for abrupt awakenings, nightmares, etc.
usage of acausal thinking helps “what-if”, “if-then-else”, etc. type of
thinking, which aids creativity. If there were no mechanism of dreaming,
it would not be easy (the way it currently is) for a person to think in a
pattern other than cause and effect thinking
As the sole purpose of dreams is to benefit from acausal thinking, which is fulfilled in the sleep state, no effort is done by the brain to memorize them