Dreaming is a necessary process that can guard against developing psychological problems. Famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious,” but his ideas about dreams and their relationship to the unconscious mind are controversial. He believed that the strange imagery in dreams could be explained as symbols representing specific conflicts in our lives, often of a sexual nature. Not all experts accept Freud’s theory that wish fulfillment is one of the major functions of dreaming. But there is consensus that people do often work out issues in their dreams that are causing them distress in the waking world.
Dreams also are important because they help the brain process and integrate the massive jumble of sensory information we soak up every day. The subconscious mind sorts through and organizes all this data, and dreams use it to aid us in the learning process and in solving problems that may have stumped us while we were awake.
10. Night Courses
Hectic schedules and the constant bombardment of information from the Internet sometimes make us feel like we can’t cram any more knowledge into our brains. But researchers continue to gather evidence that dreaming helps us to absorb things we’ve learned during the day. Several hours of uninterrupted quiet time allows the unconscious mind to replay and review your complicated new job duties or your struggle to learn French in your spare time. Some research suggests that studying before going to bed can increase the chances you’ll dream about the material you’re trying to master. The effects dreaming has on retention and learning appear to be similar to the effects of practicing visualization techniques.
9. Everyone Dreams
Everyone dreams every night even if you don’t remember them. We spend 2 hours or more every night dreaming. It used to be thought that we only dreamed during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) parts of the sleep cycle, but new information suggests we can dream during other parts of the cycle as well, although our bodies require a certain amount of REM sleep and our most vivid and compelling dreams occur during these short periods of deep sleep. Waking up to soon from a compelling dream and forgetting dreams when you wake are common complaints. However, sometimes it’s possible to go back to sleep and resume a dream. Experiments suggest that lying still in the same position you woke up in from a dream can help keep the dream from fading from your short-term memory.
8. Dream Cheater
Studies show that the most common dream is that your spouse is cheating on you. However it is important to keep in mind you’re probably not having a premonition because the most likely cause is a general feeling of being shortchanged. The good news is your spouse probably isn’t having an affair, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. A cheating dream usually indicates that your partner is preoccupied with work or other matters and you’re upset he isn’t spending enough time with you. If this is the case, it’s a relatively easy fix. However, there could be deeper issues such as your own feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Whatever the issue is, the dream your subconscious is using to poke you about it is likely to linger until the issue is effectively addressed.
7. Reruns Are A Dream
Recurring dreams can have special meaning for us because of the sense the dream must be especially important even if we don’t know exactly how. Some of the common themes in recurring dreams involve being attacked, being naked in public, being chased and running late for an important appointment. In various ways these themes are believed to express unresolved conflicts and fears the dreamer is struggling to overcome in his waking life. The dream state provides a mechanism to revisit the problems at the subconscious level free of the usual rationalizations and excuses we use in everyday life. The problem could be from your past, present or even trouble you’re anticipating in the future. The dream can repeat itself periodically for years until the underlying conflict is addressed.
6. Interpreting Weird Dreams
Psychologists in Britain recently discovered that dreams tend to get increasingly strange as the night progresses. Mundane events from your day such as meeting an acquaintance or driving to work often figure in your early dreams. Your health can adversely affect your dreams with infections, premenstrual syndrome and sleep deprivation all having the potential to trigger nightmares. Both casual images and the more bizarre ones are included in your dreams and the result is often a confusing mash that can be hard to make sense of. Dream dictionaries are one way to help interpret dreams by providing possible explanations of symbolic dream images. For example, a fighter plane in your dream likely means you tend to be an angry, aggressive person who is ready to battle with others around you. An alligator in a swamp refers to how your colon’s health may be at issue and you should get it checked out.
5. A Dozen Dreams a Night
You might not remember any of them, but its a good bet you had twelve or more dreams last night. The more strange or interesting dreams unfold during REM sleep, but dreams also take place during other parts of the cycle adding up to 2 or more hours of dreaming every night. If you’re sleep deprived, you’ll tend to have more dreams than if you’re caught up. Your body appears to try to catch up with more intense sleep that involves heightened brain activity. This heightened activity results in more and more intense dreams. Sleep Researchers call this REM Rebound and is our bodies’ way of compensating for a sleep and dream deficit. These catch-up dreams are often the most vivid and memorable ones people report and help the body quickly return to equilibrium.
4. Lucid Dreams
Having a lucid dream isn’t quite like the mind blowing dream sequences in the movie Inception, but this kind of dream does give us the odd experience of being aware that we’re dreaming. You’re not awake during lucid dreaming, as is often believed. Instead, our conscious mind is still aware enough on some level that it is able to recognize a dream for what it is while it’s unfolding. The most interesting part is that we can sometimes shape the content of these dreams to make them more exciting or erotic and sometimes even choose the ending. Some people believe you can learn techniques to help you shape your dreams on a regular basis and mastery of these techniques involves reaching a higher level of consciousness.
3. Dreaming While Awake
Many of us daydream when we’re bored, but there is a less common phenomenon called Daytime Parahypnagogia. Unlike daydreams that are self directed, DPH involves dream-like images intruding into your consciousness mind. It usually occurs when you’re over tired, bored or relaxing. These dreams are sometimes confused with lucid dreaming, but you’re asleep during lucid dreaming even though it may feel like you’re awake. You can also experience a wakeful dream immediately upon waking up in the morning, which can be particularly disorientating. This kind of wakeful dream is rare and are referred to as sleepy hallucinations and often produce strange imagery such as shadowy figures near the bed bugs crawling on the walls.
2. Inspirational Dreams
There is a long history of dreams inspiring people to come up with new ideas and inventions. Mary Shelley, the author of the first science fiction novel Frankenstein, was inspired to write the frightening novel after having a nightmare about the reanimation of a corpse. Paul McCartney woke from a dream with the entire melody of the song “Yesterday” in his head. After writing the melody down he wrote the lyrics with fellow Beatle John Lennon. Many of artist H.R. Giger’s creations, like the horrific creature in the movie Alien, were inspired by bizarre dreams. But not just artists have found inspiration in their dreams. The double helix shape of the DNA molecule was revealed to biologist James Watson in a dream he had that featured a spiral staircase.
1. Premonition Dreams
Many of us have seen stories about a person who had a dream about their plane crashing, deciding not to fly, then learning that the plane crashed. However, dreams that give us information about future events are not common. These premonition dreams, also called precognitive dreams, are not given much regard in the scientific community, but people continue to report them. A psychologist named Doctor Hearne is a leading dream researcher and hypnotherapist who has done a lot of research into premonition and lucid dreaming. Most premonition dreams are negative with a death of a family member or friend being common examples. Researchers like Dr. Hearne are not clear about why these dreams usually foretell bad news, but one idea is that impending tragedy is more compelling than good news so your subconscious mind is more likely to bring it to your attention.