You’ll most likely spend a third of your life asleep. It’s a long time, but then there’s a lot going on when your head’s on the pillow
Why we dream is unknown. What we do know is dreams happen when we are most deeply asleep. This is because the subconscious – the part of the mind that notices and remembers pictures, feelings and words even when you’re not actively trying to – remains awake and processes the events of the day by using pieces of all this information into dreams. They may be fun, crazy or scary, but they’re not random and meaningless. They come from the same place in the brain as feelings, so if, for example, you’re nervous about a maths test, your dreams might reflect these feelings. They’ll just do it in a different way and in a different scenario.
Dreams plunge you into a magical and strange world so they’re not easy to interpret. You need to look out for symbols or metaphors that appear in them. The meanings of a symbol will be different from person to person, however, because they depend on your experience and what you feel. The mind has a great power of imagination: a locked door could mean you feel lonely, a sunny day could represent joy… and monsters could simply personify your anxiety.
Can dreams predict the future?
Dreams can reflect what is happening in your life at the moment. But is that all? Have you ever felt a sense of ‘déjà vu’ – a feeling that you have already experienced or dreamt a situation that is happening to you right now, while you’re fully awake? Hold on, surely the mind can’t possibly access future information. In some cases, you’re simply remembering random information, clues the mind included in dreams, but there’s no scientific explanation as to if – or why – people experience a ‘psychic’ dream, revealing something that would go on to happen in the future. One thing’s for sure, though. Dreams can be a source of inspiration offering some of the best creative ideas.
Do you remember your dreams?
As many as 90 per cent of dreams are forgotten in the first few minutes after waking, so if you want to remember your dreams, keep a pen and notepad (you could use the Teen Breathe journal on the following pages) by your bed and when you wake up in the morning write down what you can remember as quickly as possible. It might seem insignificant or appear not to make much sense, but it could also be an invention waiting to be created. Dreams aren’t all nonsense and they represent more than might be immediately obvious, so keep a dream journal to unlock their hidden meaning and reveal what your mind is trying to tell you…
Types of Dreams
Discover why daydreaming can be healthy and even nightmares aren’t all bad
Daydreams occur when you are semi-awake, though they shouldn’t be simply considered as wandering thoughts or silly fantasies. They are much more than that. Daydreaming helps you identify what you want or hope to happen. Even better, it’s an effective technique used by many athletes to visualise triumphs. The more they imagine it – focusing on their goal instead of the obstacles – the more they believe they can succeed.
But you don’t need to be good at sports to enjoy the benefits of positive daydreaming. It can also allow you to escape temporarily from a (sometimes) stressful reality.
If it’s the case that many people struggle to remember dreams, the opposite happens with more unpleasant visions or nightmares. This is because their strong negative emotional responses – disturbing, frightening or upsetting – can rouse you from sleep and cause the feelings to stay with you for some time. They can also make it difficult to go back to sleep. Like dreams, however, nightmares are the voice of the subconscious mind. Don’t ignore them. Instead, try to understand what might be worrying you in real life.
Nightmares are a way to ‘let go’ and expel your fears and anxieties. Confronting your problems means you need to open your eyes… and your mind.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could control your dreams? Some people can. A lucid dream happens when you are asleep but become aware that you are dreaming. It is a weird and wonderful experience as you are able to bring to bear some control over what is happening in the dream and potentially fulfil wishes and fantasies. A popular lucid dream is being able to fly. The bonus is that because you’re aware it’s not real, you don’t feel any fear of falling – so you can go wild and freely tap into your inner creativity.
Scientists believe everyone has the potential to have lucid dreams and explore the realms of possibility in their own dream world. With you in control, where would you go and who would you meet in your dreams?
- Illustration: Shutterstock
- Article originally from issue 1 of Teen Breathe