Dreaming is a universal experience. Everyone has them, and they’re often even about similar things. Isn’t it a funny concept to think that every human all over the world sees pictures in their minds when they fall asleep at night.
Dreams are images stories that our minds create while we’re asleep, and they can run the gamut from terrifying to funny to romantic to downright strange. Science still doesn’t know exactly what causes dreams, what they mean, if we can control them and why they occur in the first place.
Meaning of dreams
One theory says that dreams are, as their name suggests, representing unconscious or sometimes conscious desires and wishes. Our brains could be working through concerns or issues as a form of psychotherapy (this theory is why some therapists are always so keen to know what you’ve been dreaming about). We could be consolidating and processing information that our bodies and brains have taken in during the day, or we could be simply and unromantically interpreting random signals from our brains and bodies while we’re asleep.
Much remains unknown about the dreaming process and dreams themselves, as they’re notoriously a difficult thing to study, but there are some things we can do to understand why we dream what we do.
If you can believe it, humans typically dream four to six times a night. While you might be exclaiming that that’s simply not true, we forget more than 95% of everything we dream, remembering only the most vivid ones. These tend to happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep.
We’re sure you’ve experienced dreaming about something that’s been weighing on you or troubling you, or what you were thinking about before you go to sleep. 65% of dream elements are associated with the experiences you have while you’re awake. While dreams vary hugely from person to person, standard-type dreams tend to have a few things in common.
Most dreams are visual, as opposed to other senses such as hearing, taste and touch. This means that they’re primarily made up of images. Some people dream in black and white, but most dream in colour. When you’re stressed, your dreams and likely to reflect that, and how you’re feeling, what’s going on around you and the concerns of your every day can and may well affect what and how you dream. Most importantly, it’s crucial to remember that it’s normal to have dreams that may seem very strange. Everyone does, even if they don’t talk about it.What are nightmares?
Unpleasant as they are, you can’t discount nightmares when you’re talking about dreams. Nightmares are dreams which are unpleasant or scary, sometimes caused by experiencing, watching or reading about something you find scary, being sleep deprived, being ill or having a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. If you have an anxiety disorder or are experiencing a lot of stress, you may well have more dreams which are unpleasant, and around 70% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience nightmares.
The three most common nightmares tend to involve death or dying, being chased and physical violence. And while they might be scary, they’re just dreams and they can't hurt you.
If you’ve been having the same dream over and over, or you woke up scratching your head about what your brain delivered you in the night, we’ve assembled some common dream themes so you can work out what you mind might be trying to tell you.
Dreams about falling
If mentally you’re falling from a tall building or off a cliff, this is likely to stem from anxiety. This dream could be an expression of fears and insecurities, and perhaps the realisation that something in your life isn’t going as well as you hoped it was.
Dreams about being naked
This is a horrifying dream to have, and one that’s everyone’s experienced. It represents the fear of public embarrassment, or that you’re worried about something to do with your appearance and are anxious about this. Alternatively, dreaming about nakedness could symbolise that you’re trying to hide something from others, and are worried about being exposed.
Dreams about teeth falling out
If you’ve dreamt that your teeth are wobbling or are falling out before your eyes, you’re not alone. This is your brain’s way of showing you that you’re in a situation where you feel powerless and unable to communicate, or that you feel embarrassed.
Dreams about animals
It can be pleasant to dream about animals if you’re mentally stroking a kitten, but dreaming about being chased by a lion is a different beast altogether. These kinds of dreams can be interpreted based on the animal - if there’s a snake in your dream, for instance, you could be dreaming about being betrayed.
Dreams about water
Dreaming about water could symbolise that you feel overwhelmed or as though you’re drowning, or alternatively it could mean feelings of peace and freedom. Was it a deep and turbulent ocean you were swimming in, or were you paddling in a soft, babbling brook in your mind’s eye? How the water was behaving towards you will determine the meaning of your dream.
To vastly increase your chances of getting a great night’s sleep as opposed to one plagued with nightmares, our nootropic capsules The Relax Capsules will help you drift off into a peaceful slumber.