An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams

By Patrick McNamara

In this work, Dr. McNamara reviews evolutionary psychology approaches to REM sleep and dreams and argues for the relevance of genetic conflict to REM sleep physiology and dreams. A book review of An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams is available at Praeger Press. Below is the table of contents.

Chapter 1. REM Biology and Evolutionary Theory 1
REM Properties 1
The REM NREM Cycle 1
REM-On and REM-Off Cellular Networks 2
Selective Cerebral Activation in REM 2
REM Dream Content 3
PGO Waves 3
Activation of the Amygdala in REM 4
REM Sleep and Automatic Nervous System Storms 5
REM Sleep and the Cardiovascular System 5
REM Related Respiratory Changes 6
REM Related Lapse in Thermoregulation 6
REM Related Motor Paralysis 7
Penile Erections 7
Muscle Twitching 7
REM Interactions With NREM in Control of Growth Hormone Release 7
Interim Summary: REM Properties as Injurious to Health 8
REM Sleep and Mortality 9
REM Properties and REM Functions 9
Intragenomic Conflict 12
Costly Signaling Theory 14
Game Theory Modeling of Costly Signaling 15
Chapter 2. Patterns of REM Expression Across the Life Span 17
Sleep in Infancy and Early Childhood 17
Sleep Need and Biologic Rhythmicity 17
Fetal Sleep 18
Emergence of REM and NREM 19
Evolutionary Theory I: Sex Ratio Determination 19
Evolutionary Theory II: Pregnancy and Genetic Conflict 26
Evolutionary Theory III: Parent-Offspring Conflict 26
Evolutionary Theory IV: Life History Theory 30
Evolutionary Theory V: Attachment Theory and Ecologically Contingent Behavioral Strategies 20
REM Sleep and Unconscious Appraisals of Ecologic Context 32
Impact of Developmental Sleep on Adult Functioning 33
REM in Promotion of Brain Development 33
Costly Signaling in Mother-Infant Relations 34
REM and Cosleeping 39
Nursing and Sleep States 41
Sleep and Dreams in Childhood 41
Sleep and Dreams in the Teenage Years 42
REM and Sexual Functions in the Adult 44
Sleep and Dreams in the Elderly 48
Chapter 3. Phylogeny of Sleep 49
Definition of Sleep 49
Methodologic Issues in the Study of Comparative Sleep 51
Findings of Previous Comparative Analyses of REM and NREM in Mammals 55
Effects of Social Conflict on Sleep Sites 58
Yawning 59
Homeostatic Regulation of Sleep Varies Across Taxa and Indicates That it Has an Adaptive Function 60
Hibernation and Torpor 60
Survey of Findings on the Electrophysiologic Features of Sleep in Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals 61
Conclusion 65
Chapter 4. REM-NREM Signaling and Interactions 68
Physiologic Interactions of REM and NREM 69
Antagonistic Cellular Interactions in Regulation of REM 69
Endocrine Interactions in REM and NREM 71
Memory Processing Depends on NREM-REM Interactions 72
REM-NREM Interactions and Emotional Processing 73
REM-NREM Interactions as Signaling Systems 76
Hockett’s Criteria and Dream Elements 76
Modeling Potential Interactions 78
Chapter 5. REM Sleep and Genetic Conflict 81
Genes and Sleep 81
Genetic Conflict 84
Effects of Imprinted Genes on Physiologic Systems Implicated in Growth 85
Effects of Imprinted Genes on Functional Brain Systems That Have Been Directly Implicated In Sleep Processes 86
Genomic Imprinting and Sleep State Biology 86
Imprinting Clusters and Control Centers 87
The 5HT2A Receptor 91
Summary 91
Chapter 6. Theories of REM 94
Restorative Theory 94
Energy Conservation Theory 96
Memory Consolidation 98
Synaptic Stabilization 100
REM Functions to Promote Brain Development 100
REM Functions in Interaction With NREM to Eliminate Parasitic Infection and Regulate Selected Immune System Functions 101
REM Modulates Expression of Innate or Inherited Behaviors 101
REM Regulates Expressions of Emotion and/or Emotional Balance 101
Chapter 7. Phenomenology of REM Dreams 103
Dissociation of REM and Dreaming Does Not Mean That REM Expression Excludes Dreaming 103
Cognition During Sleep 104
Formal Properties of Dreams 105
Play, Pretense, and Imagination in Dream Phenomenology 109
Proteanism 113
Narrative 115
The Narrative Self in Dreams 116
Metaphor 118
Self-Reflectiveness in Dreams 119
Suspension of Disbelief in Dreams 119
Mind Reading in Dreams 120
Summary 122
Chapter 8. Content of REM Dreams 124
Isolation of the Dreaming Mind 124
REM Dreams as Simulations of Waking Life 125
Methods of Studying Dream Content 126
Typical Dream Content 127
REM- Related Disorders 135
Chapter 9. Theories of REM Dreams 141
Early Hypotheses of REM Dreams 141
Cognitive Theories 142
More Recent Theories 144
Emotional Processing Functions 145
History of the Theory of the Dream as Serving Emotional Expression 146
Current Neurocognitive Theories of the Dream 149
Chapter 10. Understanding REM 159
References 167
Index 189
Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine