We dream too often in our sleep but is it true for babies that are in the womb too? Do babies in the womb dream? Find out below!
Why do we sleep?
A human adult sleeps for an average of 7.5 hours each night. Sleep is necessary to rest, repair, replenish, and refresh our bodies. Scientists opine that during sleep, our brain sorts and files the information it received during the day.
How and Why do we Dream?
Sleep alternates between two stages through the night, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During non-REM sleep, your brain slows down and rests, while during REM sleep, electrical activity in your brain is high, but your muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Dreams mostly occur during REM sleep.
Dreams are an interesting study, and a lot of research has been done to understand the mechanics of dreams. Usually, dreams are about anything that occupies your mind during the day. Dreams occur to help us solve problems in our lives, store memories, and analyze emotions. It is fascinating to note that babies dream in the womb even before they are born!
Do Babies in the Womb Dream?
Scientific research conducted over the years has revealed that babies can hear the world’s sounds outside the womb. The first sounds a baby becomes aware of are the sounds of their mother’s heartbeat and her voice. They learn to recognize the mother’s voice even before they are born. At about 28 weeks of gestation, your baby has a mostly developed brain and alternates between sleeping and waking, with sleep dominating almost 95 % of his/her time. Some experts theorize that fetuses dream of helping prepare them to start processing the world outside after birth.
German neuroscientists and mathematician Karin Schwab whose research appears in a special issue of the journal Chaos, have done a study on sheep fetuses and discovered that they exhibit a dream-like state weeks before the first REM are seen. But the experiment is yet to be replicated in human fetuses. REM sleep, however, has been detected in human fetuses. Their closed eyes move forward and backward, just like an adult’s does during REM sleep. The brainwaves of fetuses show that they get around 10 hours of REM sleep every 24 hours.
Janet DiPietro, a psychologist at the John Hopkins University, and other researchers have uncovered that a 32-week old fetus behaves exactly like a newborn. They have also found that the fetus experiences the REM sleep of dreams. They opine that during REM sleep, the brain could be processing stored memory. At 28 weeks, a fetus’s sense of hearing, smell, and touch are developed and functional. So, a fetus could be dreaming about what he senses and feels around him, including the stimuli from what can be seen, smelt, heard, and felt inside the womb. It could include processing his/her mother’s voice and the other noises they hear from the outside world. Pediatrics expert and author Dr. Alan Greene believes that ‘dreams help babies make sense of their experiences.’ Your baby could be processing his/her amniotic world and trying to make sense of it. This activity continues after birth, too, as s/he begins to process a new world and new surroundings. Research suggests that newborn babies could be dreaming about their fetal experience.
However, some experts differ in their opinion, like the American psychologist David Foulkes, who studied children’s dreaming. He says that babies don’t start having vivid dreams until around the age of 2. He believes it takes that much time for babies’ brains to develop to a point where they start dreaming.
Much more research needs to be done to uncover the mysteries of the mind and consciousness. As of now, there is no way to tell without a doubt whether babies do indeed dream in the womb and, if so, what they dream about.