Everybody dreams, but certain dreams linger in our minds more than others, making us wonder if perhaps they have a meaning and we can learn something from their content. Dreams and their possible interpretations are a rather complex subject. Not everything we remember from the previous night’s sleep has a message that we should take to heart.
There are different types of dreams and we don’t always remember exactly what we dreamt, but for many people, analysis can be a way of reaching better self-understanding.
Different types of dreams
It is important to pay attention to the fact that there are different types of dreams, all of which are important to research. The various types include:
- Daydreams – Yes! Daydreams do matter when it comes to dream research and understanding our mind and psyche.
- Regular dreams – When we are experiencing regular dreams we aren’t aware of actually dreaming.
- False awakenings – False awakenings occur when we think we are awake, getting up and going about our day, but we are actually still dreaming.
- Nightmares – We all know what nightmares are and many of us dread them.
- Lucid dreams – These are the dreams where we are actually lucid and even in control of what we are dreaming.
Research on Dreams
When looking at the different types of dreaming it is also important to note that there is a difference between the dreams which occur during REM periods (rapid eye movement) and those during NREM periods (non-rapid eye movement). Research has shown that the REM dreams have a more emotional and perceptual character than the NREM dreams. The NREM type tends to be recreations of events that are psychologically important to us. Freud described REM dreams as being unrealistic and emotional and NREM dreams as being more realistic.
There is plenty of scientific research on dreams and many times the results show that dreams can tell a lot about our concerns and how we view the world. Research doesn’t look only at physiological aspects but also at subjects such as how the dream content differs between men and women, how the dreams compare to what happens in real life, the differences between different cultures, and also, of course, how the dreaming can be a useful tool when working on emotional healing and understanding of self.
Finding Meaning in Dreams
The scientific research is important when we want to try and find some meaning in our nighttime experiences. By understanding more about how our brains work during sleep, we can better explain and analyze things like bizarre dreams and weird experiences. Not every nightmare or strange dream will have significance to our mental health, though. In fact, a lot of what we are dreaming about is thought to be a process of the brain cleaning and sorting out signals. Yet, when we suddenly seem to dream every night about an empty house or see tigers leaping through our minds it could be interesting to have a look at a dream dictionary to find out what these things symbolize and what they may say about us as people. During stressful periods, it might be hard to be in touch with underlying feelings and these might come out at nighttime as symbols or recurring themes.
The scientific research is very significant and those who work with dream analysis must be well aware of how dreaming works and what causes it. There is a huge difference between lucid dreaming and dreaming without being aware that the dream is not reality, since lucid dreams can be affected by active thought processes while the regular dreams might bring forward deep unconscious thoughts.
The Broader Picture
It is not important only to determine in detail the type of dream, when it was dreamt and what might have caused it. In order to find the meaning of dreams, we must also have a look at the person’s current life experiences. In fact, good dream interpreters aren’t only interested in hearing about the actual dream and the details of it; they will also want to know what has been on your mind lately and if you have problems with depression or other mental illness. The more you can describe your life and what you are thinking about when you are awake, the better the analysis can be. This might seem very simple. However, the truth is that we seldom have the ability to see our own broader picture and therefore dream analysis can be a great eye opener to what goes on inside us. You might even want to call it a form of therapy where we map out our troubles, fears and hopes and reach a state of clarity which is very helpful to our daily lives.
Keeping a Dream Journal
When you wake up, you remember your dreams, but soon they fade away. Then, when you want to discuss them with a professional interpreter or just share with a friend, you may get annoyed when you realize that the details are already gone. If you are interested in learning a bit more about yourself and your mind, you might want to start keeping a dream journal. Keep this journal close to your bed and record the dreams you have. This can even be done when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you just had a weird or interesting dream. Collecting many dreams in a journal can also be a way of seeing a pattern and find themes that recur. This is indeed how many dream researchers proceed when they want to learn more about our world of dreams and their cause and effect on our daily lives. With a journal, you might find it easier to see a deeper meaning to your dreams but sometimes one powerful dream can be all that it takes to understand something important about your unconscious mind.