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America's favorite science teacher Bill Nye explains how your dreams work.

You know emojis have taken over when scientists use them to explain how things work.

America's favorite science teacher Bill Nye explains how your dreams work.

In a new series from Mashable, Bill Nye, America's favorite science teacher takes a look at the science of dreaming.

When you turn off your alarm clock in the morning, your day is just beginning. You're groggy. You're tired. You hit snooze like a million times (if you're me). But you're awake.

Your brain, on the other hand, never went to sleep. It was busy working the overnight shift.


We've all been there. Image via iStock.

Sometimes you wake up and your dreams from the night before are so vivid. Sometimes they're just straight up bizarre. And sometimes you can't recall them at all.

The average person dreams about four to six times a night, so whether or not you remember them, if you're sleeping, your brain is busy dreaming.

Basically, it's always up to something. One brain would never walk up to another and be like, "Hey brain, what's up?" and receive an "Oh, not much" in response. It'd be more like ... "EVERYTHING IS UP! ALL THE TIME! I'M A BRAIN!"

Or to put the beautifully complex behavior of the brain simply...

Bill Nye has found the perfect emojis to explain just what the heck your brain gets up to at night.

GIF via Mashable Watercooler/YouTube.

Basically, neurologists say your brain can be found in three states:

1. Your brain is AWAKE!

That's your brain RIGHT NOW! That's why you're reading this! And getting lost in Wikipedia rabbit holes and getting distracted by the Internet and living your life. I can't even explain it more because it's so obvious! You're awake! And your brain is too!

She's awake! GIF from "30 Rock."

2. Your brain is in a rapid eye-movement (REM) cycle.

This is a fun one. This is when things start to get weird and dreamy. This is the part of your sleep sleep cycle where your eyes start to move rapidly (ha! rapid eye movement! get it??) and your body goes through many physiological changes. Your limbs become limp and your breathing becomes irregular. This, believe it or not, is the perfect condition for dreaming.

When you're in the REM state, your imagination runs wild. GIF via Mashable Watercooler/YouTube.



3. Your brain is in the non-rapid-eye movement (NREM) cycle.

Non-rapid eye movement doesn't sound as fun because it's considered dreamless sleep, but it takes up more of your life than REM. So you should get to know it.

About 80% of your sleep takes place in NREM. This is when your breathing and heart rate are slow and regular and you are pretty still. This is most likely not the time when you are talking in your sleep or rolling around stealing the covers from your partner. Which they definitely appreciate, by the way.

Word of the day: extrastriate. GIF via Mashable Watercooler/YouTube.

Nye briefly touches on this, but humans aren't the only ones who experience dreams. Animals likely do too.

Most mammals experience rapid-eye movement, so "it is reasonable to suppose that animals have something like what we call dreams," Patrick McNamara, director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at Boston University, told National Geographic. That's pretty cool to think about.

Scientists are busy discovering more about how the brain works in humans and in animals.

From the amount of sleep disorders faced every day to the effects smartphones may have when you're trying to get some shut-eye, we're giving scientists plenty of material to work with.

While we wait to learn more, just try to get a decent amount of sleep at night. Netflix will be there in the morning. And besides, you're clearly awesome at dreaming, so DREAM BIG.

Here's Bill Nye to explain more about your dreams:

Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
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