Film Review: Nova What are Dreams

Nova: What are Dreams, a PBS documentary that can be viewed on Netflix. Dreams have always fascinated me and have been inspiration to a lot of my art, and this is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever watched and answers a lot of questions I had about dreams.


I have been an insomniac since I was thirteen-years-old largely due to depression and nightmares.  According to sleep studies people dream both in non-REM sleep and REM sleep.

During REM sleep the amygdala is more active which is the part of the brain that processes negative emotions so people who are severely depressed go straight into REM sleep and have negative dreams. This would explain why I started to playing music during sleep or a television, and when I’m really depressed a movie needs to be playing and I’ll sleep on the couch so that I’m not too deep in sleep. The more restless my nights are the less likely I would have nightmares.

When I was in my early 20s I started writing my dreams down, illustrating and created an alter ego who interpreted them. Once I became more aware of my insecurities which were relayed through my nightmares, the less often I would have elaborate morbid dreams.

I still have reoccurring dreams about being lost in a school, my privacy being infringed upon through dreams about public restrooms, and my teeth crumbling so while watching the documentary I thought well, I have the information now to never have nightmares again, but then scientists say nightmares are important to our survival. Dreams are a way of us to prepare ourselves for everyday events. I believe now that I need to just let these bad dreams pan out and the only way to have good dreams is to be as comfortable and secure with oneself and the current state of your life.


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