New research in mice has identified a group of neurons that helps reveal why and how the brain forgets dreams, according to Medical News Today.

The final stage of sleep is called rapid eye movement or REM, and it’s this stage when your brain does the most dreaming. The report cited new research in mice that suggests the REM sleep stage also contains a period of “active forgetting,” which most likely occurs to avoid information overload. The neurons responsible for forgetting are the same neurons that help control appetite.

Each night, your body progresses through five stages of sleep. In stage 1, light sleep, you prepare to drift off to sleep. A pre-deep sleep phase is next, during which your brain wave activity becomes rapid and rhythmic while your body temperature drops and heart rate slows. In stage 3, you begin to transition from light sleep to deep sleep, and in stage 4, delta sleep, you enter deep sleep. In stage 5, when REM sleep occurs, it is when most dreaming happens.

REM sleep should make up, on average, about 25% of your total sleep cycle. Studies show that among those whose REM sleep made up 20% of their sleep cycle, no one developed dementia. Among those whose REM sleep totaled 17% of REM sleep, there was a much greater dementia risk. For each 1% drop in REM sleep, participants’ risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease increased by about 9%.

Lack of sleep is having a catastrophic impact on our nation’s health and wellness and is fast becoming a serious public health challenge.

More than 20 large-scale epidemiological studies, tracking millions of people over many decades, report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Far from being an optional lifestyle choice, sleep is necessary for every aspect of your mental and physical health.

Sleeplessness has been shown to have a devastating effect on your health and well-being, contributing to chronic illnesses such as dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Every year, sleep-deprived drivers are responsible for a large number of vehicle crashes in the U.S. When you drive drowsy, you put your life and the lives of countless others in jeopardy.

Dreaming serves a number of important psychological functions including aiding memory formation, creative problem-solving and helping you find meaning in life events.

Lucid dreaming is when you become aware that you’re dreaming. Provided you don’t fully awaken, but stay in the dream, you have the ability to shape and alter your dream at will.

Lucid dreaming is not only fun, but it can also be quite therapeutic, especially if you struggle with phobias, recurring nightmares and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, it’s best to avoid lucid dream induction if you have certain mental health problems that make it difficult for you to discern the real from the unreal. Schizophrenia, for example, can be exacerbated by lucid dreaming.