Artist: Anto Machado
Dreaming: a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
Although the above is the technical definition of dreaming, I think it can be best described as a play about your life written and directed by a child. You may recognize the cast of characters and the set, but sometimes the sequence of events can seem peculiar.
Dreams can be vivid or lucid. They can seem realistic and totally plausible to the point you may find yourself wondering (when you're awake) if it really happened or, they can be completely outrageous and strange. They can elicit strong emotional reactions. You can remember them for years or you can forget them the moment you wake up.
Dreams are truly one of life's great mysteries both to us dreamers and to professionals studying the topic.
We dove into the mysterious world of dreaming to better understand this adventure of the imagination.
1. Why do we dream?
This is one function of the human body that there is no definitive answer for. Some experts believe this is a function that helps you problem solve, integrate memories and deal with emotions; hence the phrase: sleep on it. Sigmund Freud believed dreams are a window to the subconscious. Others believe it has absolutely no function at all and it is just a compilation of random images our brain generates while we sleep.
2. Do our dreams have meaning?
While some rely on dream dictionaries to find hidden meaning in their dreams, others believe there is no meaning at all; that dreams are merely a scrambled reflection of events that occur throughout the day.
Although experts aren't 100% certain exactly what dreams mean, many do agree that the meaning of one particular event or occurrence in one person's dream would be completely different from that of another person's. This is because it is believed that our dreams are one of our brains ways of problem-solving and of processing emotion; which means that meanings of objects, situations and events are unique to our own personal experiences and struggles.
Even though events in dreams can seem random and weird, isn't there always at least something that seems familiar? They are an expression of your own perception and feelings about whatever is going on in your life.
Nightmares, like dreams, occur during REM sleep. Recurring nightmares are said to be caused by your subconscious trying to tell you or warn you about something. This can often be caused by anxiety, fear, trauma and/or conflict.
In adults, the most common nightmares people experience are chase (the most common theme for women), attack (the most common theme for men), being trapped, and natural disaster.
The good news is, if you suffer from nightmares, there are things you can do to stop them from occurring:
- Talk about the unresolved issue that recurs in your nightmare with a friend. It sounds like an overly simple solution, but it can help you work out the problem so you can rest easy.
- Use mindful meditation to manage stress.
- Get regular exercise.
- Check the side effects of any medication you may be taking. Sometimes nightmares can be a nasty side effect. If this is the case, speak to your doctor.
4. Dreamy Facts
- You are more likely to remember a dream if you wake up without an alarm.
- The average person has 1460 dreams per year.
- It's impossible to dream and snore at the same time--it's one or the other.
- You can't read or tell time in your dreams.
- A dreamcatcher is one of the most widely recognized Native American symbols in the world. It's a loose web woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects to protect against nightmares.
- Most people have four to seven dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles they have.
- In our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember--your brain doesn't create new faces.
- A premonition dream (or precognitive dream) is when you dream about something that later occurs. Abraham Lincoln dreamt he would be assassinated. There are 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic.
- Your mind is more active when you're dreaming than when you're awake.
- Dreams are mainly visual and auditory. Smell and taste sensations occur less than one per cent of the time.
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