On average, we sleep eight hours a night. With this in mind, we find ourselves dreaming for intervals of approximately five to forty minutes a night. All up, in an eight-hour sleep cycle, we can find ourselves dreaming for up to two hours a night. All this dreaming occurs in the REM stage of sleep, where your brain is active, but your body remains motionless. A lot can happen in dreams, and of course, a lot of dreams are simply a breakdown of the day’s events. However, some say that your dreams can be the unconscious’ way of unlocking hidden truths and meanings to your desires, fears and needs. Here are a few very common dreams and the meanings behind them.
Do Dreams Really Mean Anything?
A big question here is your underlying belief if a dream means anything. There are hundreds of theories about dreams and their meanings. Are they really just residue from that day’s events, or can they have a deeper meaning behind them? There is a theory called the activation-synthesis hypothesis, suggesting that we dream because our brain experiences neurological changes whilst in REM sleep. In Laymen’s terms, it basically means our brain works differently when we’re awake compared to when we’re asleep, and our brain triggers activity that activates memories that come to the surface during the dreaming stage of sleep.
This dream is very common, and can mean quite a few things. Now, of course, I’m not referring to that feeling when you’re just about to fall asleep, and all of a sudden you see yourself falling from a ten story building, resulting in you jolting and waking yourself up again. Yes, that’s also very common, but that’s called a hypnic or hypnagogic jerk. No one really knows why they happen, but I digress. Dreaming that you’re falling and you’re afraid of the feeling, it can often be explained as a sign of anxiety or insecurity about a situation. If you’re falling and you’re enjoying the feeling, it may be a sign that you’re not afraid of change, or that you embrace change.
Another dream that is very common, is where you’re being chased. This dream can often be identified as an anxiety issue, or that you’re avoiding a certain situation. You could be avoiding a situation that is causing you to feel anxious or nervous, or that you’re afraid of what the situation could lead to.
Showing Up Late To Something Important
This one may lead to you feeling a little unsure about an upcoming change, or you being afraid of change occurring. This can also be a sign of anxiety or stress levels rising.
If you dream that you’re flying, it may suggest that you’ve just released yourself from a situation that made you feel uncertain, trapped, or was stopping you from moving on to the next stage of your life. If you’re dreaming that you’re having trouble flying, this may suggest that there is something that is holding you back or stopping you from spreading your wings.
Teeth Falling Out
This dream is often analysed, and has been told to mean a whole bunch of different things. It could mean that you think your life is falling apart, that you can see your life literally crumbling away, and your teeth falling out is just a metaphor to emphasise it. Another theory suggests that your teeth falling out means that you have trouble communicating, or more specifically, you’re having trouble communicating a certain topic or an issue that’s eating away at you. It could also mean that you need to see a dentist, stat.
What Can Influence Your Dreams?
It’s not just the breakdown of the day’s events that can influence your dreams, it’s your surroundings when you’re asleep too. If you often find yourself dreaming about suffocating, or being trapped, you may find that you also sleep on your stomach. Sleep in the fetal position or on your back and see if your dreams change. If your mattress is a little lumpy, or making you wake up in pain, it can often affect the way you dream. Interrupted REM and NREM can disrupt your brain’s healing process, making you wake up feeling groggy, angry or just feeling tired. Upgrade your mattress and see how your dreams change.
Sounds can also affect your dreams, such as the TV, a phone ringing or even music playing. There are often times when your alarm buzzing can seep its way into your dream, so if you find yourself waking up to a certain sound, why not try sleeping with white noise, pink noise or even grey noise, to drown out any foreign sounds, thus helping you create organic dreams.
Why Do We Forget Our Dreams?
More often than not, we can’t even remember the wacky things we dream of on a particular night. This doesn’t mean that you don’t dream at all, just because you can’t recall it. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 95-99% of the time, we forget what we dream about, and this is most likely because we don’t concentrate on what we’re dreaming about when we’re asleep. For those who believe that dreams are important and enjoy analysing dreams often recall more dreams than others. Another theory suggests that our memory recall hormone norepinephrine gets turned off, so we tend to not remember the dreams we have. If you’re hoping to try and remember your dreams, try and sleep in the same position at night. If you go to sleep with your head towards your upholstered bedhead, try and stay in that same position all night. If you get up and go to the bathroom, and you want to return to that dream you were in, try and recreate that same sleeping position you were in.
Dreams can mean a lot of things; most of the time, ultimately, it’s in the hands of the dreamer. Whether you believe that dreams can be analysed and that they have a deeper meaning than just some funny images, or that you believe that dreams are just residue from the events of the day, we all dream. It’s just what you choose to do with your dreams that matter.