Dreams have long existed on the precipice between being a legitimate part of the psychological cannon and pseudo-science. There is something about their non-physical/unfelt nature that leads people to dismiss them as the random firing off of neurons or the reordering of cognitive information while we sleep – nothing more and nothing less.
However, new research has shown that lucid dreams, in particular, have been associated with a quantifiable increase in our mental wellbeing. In a study conducted by psychologists at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, it was demonstrated just what an effect dreams have on our mental health. It was found that those who experienced lucid dreams, on average, were much less prone to the effects of psychological distress.
Those who took part in the study, and deemed to have experienced sufficient lucid dreaming states, were reported to have less depression, anxiety, and stress than those who experienced low-intensity lucid dreams. Our dreams, it turns out, are not just the by-product of a good night’s sleep. In fact, as many as 43% of people surveyed about their function believed that they reveal unconscious desires and wishes.
7 Common Dreams We All Experience (And What They Might Indicate)
Dreams about Falling: This is perhaps one of the most common and most disconcerting dreams that we have all experienced. Although a popular myth has been espoused that if you hit the floor when your fall in your dream, you’ll die, this has been proved to be nothing more than false conjecture. According to popular dream interpretations – as well as at least one study – falling dreams are often a sign that something is going to well in your life. And the free-fall nature implies that you’re in descent.
Dreams About Being Naked in Public: Another “popular” dream. This has been linked by many psychologists to having an inferiority complex about one or more facets of your character. It’s also been said that it could be a representation of an embarrassing disposition.
Dreams About Being Chased: It’s been suggested by many interpreters that dreams such as these indicate you’re trying to avoid something in your life which requires your immediate attention. They’re a representation of trying to escape from facing your fears or even accepting the responsibility of pursuing your passions.
Dreams About Dying: Although the notion of death brings about the obvious question of our mortality, it isn’t always as clear-cut as that when we’re talking about dreams. Death is a meta-concept as much as it is a defined point in our life. And death in dream terms is often said to reflect the fear of the unknown. But equally, it can also be equated to the death of the old self and rebirthing of yourself into something greater.
Dreams About Taking a Test: Taking exams in dreams has been said to be symbolic of the underlying fear of failure. Few people like taking tests. They often bring up intense feelings of anxiety about whether we’re going to make the grade, as there is traditionally a clear cut-off point that defines success and failure. “To dream of failing an exam, being late for one, or being unprepared shows that you feel unprepared for the challenges of waking life.”
Dreams About Sex: Dreams about sex could really be given their own separate article, such is the complex nature of our sexuality. They run the entire gamut of encounters with exes, bosses, platonic friends, and even ones in which you’re engaged with members of the same sex, despite being set in a very heterosexual mindset.
Dreams About Flying: Dreams in which we’re flying are often some of the most exciting, as they allow us to engage with a fantasy world not available to us in our waking state. But contrary to the perception that flying dreams have only a positive interpretation, there are actually two very distinct sides to them. On the one hand, they can represent feelings of freedom and independence. But conversely, they can also relate to the desire to escape from our current reality and responsibilities.
Why We Should Make the Effort to Journal and Interpret Our Dreams
To be clear, dreams aren’t be taken as an absolute. It would be foolhardy to rush into a serious life-choices or use them to self-diagnose an imagined issue. However, the study of our dreams can be another lens through which to create a more detailed picture of our world. They can be used to confirm and affirm aspects of our reality that we already have a reasonably clear understanding of by other means.
Here are seven reasons why you might want to start keeping a dream journal and trying to regularly interpret them as a form of mental exercise and introspection.
- Your dreams represent an opportunity to tape into your psyche. You can access a part of your mind that is otherwise closed off to you and present information in a way that can often have a profound effect on your current state of thinking.
- When you dream, you enter the territory of your own mind. They can allow you to cognise and reinterpret information and events that have happened the previous day or week to integrate what they mean for you in the future.
- They can often be an untapped source of creativity for many of those involved in the arts or that us their mental capacities to problem-solve. Many great artists such as David Bowie and Prince have reported having songs coming to them in dreams, as well as many famous thinkers who’ve claimed that they’ve made the breakthrough they were looking for after taking short naps.
- They often represent metaphors for living. And even if they don’t always relate to your current life circumstances, they could be used a filter/algorithm through which to view future events if you take the time to write them down and understand them in a way that makes sense to you.