Healthy Sleep

UNDERSTANDING YOUR DREAMS: WHAT DO OUR DREAMS MEAN?

January 14th 2021
Understanding Your Dreams: What Do Our Dreams Mean?

A number of people tend to forget their dreams as soon as they wake up, regardless of whether these were good or bad dreams. Typically, dream analysis is a chore for some individuals as they find it difficult to remember.

Experts like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, leading figures in the areas of psychoanalysis, psychology, and the study of dreams, suggest opposing thoughts on why people conjure fantasies whilst sleeping and the interpretation of dreams.

For Freud, dreams are the byproduct of the individual’s wishes and desires, manifesting them in a mental exercise in the form of dream images and such. Jung theorized, however, that dreams are the psyche's way of communicating with the individual.

Regardless of whose theory you subscribe to, the function of dreams is a topic that is very intricate and unique, varying from one person's interpretation to the next. Some even ascribe dreams to future events and see this as a form of prophecy and such.

While it would be easier to refer to a dream dictionary to understand and explain the context and meaning of dreams, the very nature of dreaming makes it intimate and personal to the person experiencing it.

Before we go to some usual meanings behind our dreams, let’s first tackle how it takes place.

Most experts agree that sleeping comes in stages, with a huge import placed on the deep sleep and REM sleep or rapid eye movement stage of sleep. These two stages are integral as these are where dreaming begins.

Deep sleep is the part of our bedtime when our bodies' functions slow down and prepare to rest for the night, eventually leading to the REM stage where sleep scientists believe lucid dreaming and most dreaming takes shape.

While dreaming isn't limited to the rem stage, it's connection to lucid dreams, and in turn waking life, carry certain meaning for some individuals.

Do you remember any vivid dreams as of late? Read on to see if the one you had the previous day means anything.

Common Dreams and their possible meanings

 #1: "A day in the life" 

People with PhDs in sleep science and other experts in the field suggest that dreaming is a way for the mind to process what happened in our real lives. Like a computer, our brain compartmentalizes information and classifies them based on their importance and usefulness.

If one of your recurring dreams is about the day you just had, it might mean that your brain is combing over the events of your daily life, a sort of consolidation of all your experiences for that particular date. 

#2: Falling or slipping from a great height

Considered as one the most common dreams, falling is one of those where your physical body is jolted awake because of what you dreamt. 

Some experts suggest that dreams involving falling are a product of our ancestors' fear of slipping from trees and falling prey to predators of their time. 

One other explanation is that the mind manifests fear of failure as the sensation of falling, reflecting any anxiety that the individual suffers into a sort of threat simulation.

#3: Being naked in public or in front of a crowd

Another recurring dream theme is the experience of being naked in front of a sizable crowd or while public speaking. Sometimes, while in the dream, the sleeper doesn't know that they are in the nude until the moment the crowd laughs or attention is drawn to the nakedness.

A state of literal undress while dreaming might mean that your unconscious mind is dealing with fears of public speaking or being in large crowds in general.

#4: Bodies of water

When a person experiences dreams centred around being on a body of water, whether shallow or deep, might have something to do with their well-being and sense of peace.

The feeling of being overwhelmed by real-life circumstances might have the brain projecting this feeling by drowning in deep waters or struggling to wade through shallow and murky puddles.

#5: Dreams involving immobility

A particular brand of vivid dream that often scares people, dreaming about being unable to move can be an unnerving experience. Oftentimes this kind of dream is equated with sleep paralysis, although that is a different topic altogether.

A possible meaning for being unable to move in the dream world is that an individual might feel a sense of being lost or stuck in a rut whether in their career or another important aspect of life.

#6 Dreaming about being in a position of power

One interesting dream theme is one that involves the sleeper turning into an authority or powerful figure, namely a boss or politician, and the like.

While it may seem that this kind of dream is centred on the sleeper's ego, particularly to inflate and reinforce his sense of self, the adverse can also be true. Dreaming that you turn into a powerful individual can reflect feeling inferior about said figures.

#7: Being chased or followed

Included in the common types of dreams is one that involves being stalked, chased, or followed. It may be in the form of a terrifying monster or something akin to real-life as by a mugger or the like.

This kind of dream can be explained as the psyche's way to process existing fears that follow the dreamer's mind or the presence of something that he or she wishes or tries to avoid.

#8: Dreaming about being unable to talk or converse

Sometimes, particularly when lucid dreaming, we retain some semblance of control over our dreams. This may be in the form of remembering details about what we dreamt about or walking or actively participating in them.

One aspect that is common for dreams of this kind is the ability to talk or communicate with characters that we came up with. These characters may be purely imaginative or based on individuals we know.

While being able to talk in dreams is common, the adverse is also true. People all over the world share dreams of being mute or unable to express or share their sentiments while dreaming, in some cases leaving them shaken or in distress.

A common meaning behind this particular type of dream is that the sleeper is going through an experience or incident in life that he or she is finding a hard time to share with others, may it be with loved ones or with friends. 

#9: Recurring or repeating dreams

More often than not, we have a difficult time recalling our dreams. Usually, this is brought about by the nature of dreaming itself, which in a way, is the mind doing a routine cleaning of its information bank.

However, in certain instances, there are distinct dreams that we might encounter for several nights. Often, they are remarkable and may be similar or essentially the same down to the minute details.

If you are experiencing this type of dreaming, it might mean that there is a recurring problem in your real world that you are trying to find a solution for and as a result, your mind is logging overtime work to deal with the said conundrum. 

Take it with a grain of salt

Those were merely the most common kinds of dream that are somehow shared by a substantial number of people even those separated by continents. Experts in the field of sleep and psychotherapy often theorise that dreaming is a way of the brain to comprehend daily life experiences and that may be right.

In the end, dreams are what we make of it. While most can be explained through science, and neuroscientists did try that, the message that they may or may not convey can only be understood fully by those who receive them.

The next time you experience a rather different or peculiar dream, try to jot it down on a journal and see if it can be connected with any incident in your day or life that you have a strong emotional attachment or investment to. Cheers and good night!

Interesting in learning more about dreams?

Check out our Understanding Your Dreams Series: