Everyone dreams. It may not happen every single night, but we do dream on most nights. However, not always do we remember our dreams when we wake up. Sometimes even though you might remember bits and pieces of your dreams (which leave you wishing you could remember more), in all earnestness we know so little about our dreams.
Where do they come from? What do they mean? Can we control them and should we try to interpret them? So many questions and not enough answers, right?
So if you are curious to know a little more about your dreams, read on before snoozing!
1. You Can Have Multiple Dreams On A Single Night
Many mornings you wake up with faint recollections of your dreams. But does that mean you had just one single dream the previous night? The answer is NO.
Experts believe that you can have dozens of dreams on a single night; you just may not remember them all. We dream every 90 minutes throughout the night, with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the previous. The first dream of the night is about 5 minutes long and the last dream you have before awakening can be 45 minutes to an hour long. That’s why you remember the last dream when you wake up, while you have no recollection of the first dream at all. In fact, it is estimated that most people have more than 100,000 dreams in a lifetime!
2. You Can Learn While Dreaming
If you’re studying for a test or trying to learn a new task, you might consider taking a nap or heading to bed early rather than hovering over a textbook an hour longer. Here’s why: When the brain dreams, it helps you learn and solve problems, say researchers at Harvard Medical School.
In a study that appeared in a recent issue of Current Biology, researchers report that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and understanding new information. To improve the quality of your sleep and your brain’s ability to learn, make sure you avoid noise in the bedroom which may negatively impact the length and quality of dreams. So turn that TV off before you go to bed!
3. Even Your Most Bizarre Dreams Can Mean Something
While it can be hard to believe that a totally weird that combined events related to your daughter, a shopping spree and a hurricane can have any bearing on real life, there may be symbolism and potential meaning to be mined in every dream. You just have to look for it!
“The meaning of our dreams oftentimes relates to things we are needing to understand about ourselves and the world around us,” says Harvard-trained psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber. Instead of shrugging off strange dreams, think about how they make you feel. “We tend to dismiss these dreams due to the strange components, yet it is the feeling we have in these dreams that matters most,” he explains. “Sometimes the shopping escapade and the hurricane are just fillers that allow us to process the range of emotions we feel about our daughter and give us the necessary distraction so we can actually experience that spectrum of emotion.”
4. Dreams Can Be Controlled
Did you watch the movie Inception and felt truly intrigued, maybe even disturbed? Truth is that we can take the reins of our dreams and make them whatever we want them to be. This may not just be a Hollywood fantasy!
According to the results of a new survey of 3,000 people, dream control, or “lucid dreaming” may be a real thing. In fact, 64.9% of participants reported being aware they were dreaming within a dream, and 34% said they can sometimes control what happens in their dreams. Taking charge of the content of your dreams isn’t a skill everyone has, but it can be developed, according to Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California.
The technique is particularly useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares. Dr. Bulkeley suggests giving yourself a pep talk of sorts before you go to sleep by saying: “If I have that dream again, I’m going to try to remember that’s it’s only a dream, and be aware of that.” When you learn to be aware that you are dreaming within a dream, you not only have the power to steer yourself away from the monster and into the arms of Brad Pitt, for instance, but you train your mind to avoid nightmares in the first place. “Lucid dreaming enhances your ability to learn from the dream state,” says Dr. Bulkeley
5. Don’t Worry If You Dream About Your Spouse Cheating On You
If you’ve ever woken up in a cold sweat after dreaming about your husband’s extramarital escapade with your best friend, you’re not alone. “The most commonly reported nightmare is the one where your mate is cheating,” says Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a dream expert, author and media personality.
Loewenberg conducted a survey of more than 5,000 people, and found that the infidelity dream is the nightmare that haunts most people; sometimes on a recurring basis. It rarely has anything to do with an actual affair, she explains, but rather the common and universal fear of being wronged or left alone.
6. Women Have Orgasms While Dreaming Too
Did you think only men can have orgasms during erotic dreams? Not true! Warning, further reading may produce blushing! “Women have orgasms during their sleep, just as men do,” says Barbara Bartlik, MD, a psychiatrist and sex therapist in New York. “These orgasms often accompany erotic dreams, but they also may occur during dreams of a non-erotic nature.”
When women dream, it’s not uncommon for their genitals to become engorged and lubricated. This usually occurs during REM sleep, which happens several times during the night. A similar thing happens to men. Men get erections during REM sleep, whether or not the man is having an erotic dream.
7. You Can Linger In A Dream-Phase Even After You Wake Up
Have you ever woken up from such a beautiful, perfect dream that you wished you could go back to sleep to soak it all up? You can! Just lie still, don’t move a muscle, and you can remain in a semi-dreamlike state for a few minutes.
Dream experts say that the best way to remember your dreams is to simply stay put when you wake up. Remain in the position you woke up in, because that is the position you were dreaming in. When you move your body, you disconnect yourself from the dream you were just in seconds ago.
8. You Can Dream While Awake
Turns out, you can dream at your desk at work, in the car, even at your kid’s soccer game. Wakeful dreaming (not to be confused with daydreaming) is real and somewhat easy to do. It just involves tapping into your active imagination.
The first step is to think about a recent dream you had (preferably a good one!). Find a quiet contemplative place and bring a dream that you remember back into your waking awareness and let it unfold. Let the dream re-energize. Wakeful dreaming can be used as a relaxation tool, but experts believe it can also help your mind process a puzzling dream. What it does is create a more fluid interaction between unconscious parts of the mind and wakeful parts of the mind.
9. Don’t Disregard Recurring Dreams
Do you have the same nightmare over and over again? The best way to deal with them is to look for underlying messages in recurring dreams so that you can rid yourself of them. For example, a common recurring nightmare people have involves staggering and falling into an abyss.
Experts recommend that people think about what this dream may represent. Staggering and falling can simply mean you aren’t sure of your life’s path, or that you are afraid you will lose control of your life and be lost forever.