8 Top Dreams: What Do they Really Mean? PLUS How to Get Restful Sleep … Naturally… Without Harmful Sleeping Pill or Drugs!
You spend about one-third of your life whisked peacefully away in slumberland, time that is actually very well spent.
It’s during sleep that your body repairs muscles, consolidates memories and releases growth- and appetite-regulating hormones. If your sleep is interrupted, or you don’t get enough of it, your body cannot make these crucial restorations and your health will inevitably suffer.
In fact, in time insomnia can impact just about every facet of your physical and mental health, including:
If you’re having trouble sleeping, we’ll be sharing excellent strategies for you to get restful sleep each and every night at the end of this article, but first let’s delve into what is arguably one of the most interesting aspects of sleep … your dreams.
Why Do We Dream?
During REM sleep, which takes up only about 25 percent of your night’s sleep, your brain is active and the most vivid dreams occur. While no one knows for certain why we dream, researchers including Ernest Hartmann, MD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine, believe they are linked to our emotions.
For instance, when reviewing individuals’ dreams from before and after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hartmann found a noticeable increase in feelings of fear and being overwhelmed during dreams after the attacks.
Likewise, a 2009 study found that when you’re well rested, dreams may put you more in touch with your positive emotions when you’re awake, too.
In a TIME article, Matthew Walker, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California Berkeley, gave the following analogy:
“If you’re walking through the jungle and you’re tired, it might benefit you more to be hypersensitive to negative things … The idea is that with little mental energy to spare, you’re emotionally more attuned to things that are likely to be the most threatening in the immediate moment. Inversely, when you’re well rested, you may be more sensitive to positive emotions, which could benefit long-term survival.”
He goes on to describe the important role of REM sleep as a “nocturnal soothing balm.” When you reach the dream state, your brain goes through a process of reviewing the course of the day’s events and then extracting any negative feelings from your memory bank.
On the contrary, if you’re unable to reach the REM stage, you’re not able to let go of these negative emotions and instead remain in a perpetual state of anxiety.
What are the Most Common Types of Dreams, and What do They Mean?
Kelly Sullivan Walden, author of "I Had the Strangest Dream ... The Dreamer's Dictionary for the 21st Century," explains on Lemondrop.com that there are eight common types of dreams. By categorizing your dreams into the following subtypes, it can give you a good idea of what your dreams mean, and how to use their messages to your advantage (keep in mind that in order to truly remember your dream, it’s often necessary to write it down immediately when you wake up).
1. Processing Dreams
These dreams rehash your daily events – a work meeting, difficult conversation, etc. – which may help your brain to “process” the myriad of tasks that occurred during your day. Think of processing dreams as a way to help you tie up loose ends or even get a new perspective on a difficult problem.
2. Venting Dreams
In venting dreams, something you’d normally dread happens: you’re chased by an unknown stalker, you show up naked for a big work presentation or fall down a bottomless pit. While terrifying venting dreams can remind you to get prepared for an upcoming event or help you let go of beliefs that are holding you back in life.
3. Integration Dreams
These dreams involve either you or another person acting in an extreme, either admirable or unacceptable way. What they mean is to take note of these characteristics in yourself and others, and either embrace them fully or take steps to change them.
4. Breakdown/Breakthrough Dreams
Natural disaster, death and other traumatic upheavals signal that a great change is coming in your life … or perhaps that you’re in need of one.
5. Recurring Dreams
Recurring dreams are typically a message from your subconscious that can enhance your happiness and well-being. The trick lies in being able to decode what that message is successfully.
6. Precognitive Dreams
These dreams are like a crystal ball into your future … typically, you’ll dream of people and events that are occurring in your life, then wake up to find the event you dreamed of actually happens.
7. Prophetic Dreams
Typically involving a wise, loving being (a religious figure, departed pet, grandparent, etc.), these dreams have powerful messages and life lessons to share with you. Be sure to write down prophetic dreams, including their messages and the feelings they give you, right away so you can refer back to them.
8. Wish-Fulfillment Dreams
These dreams include dreaming about your innermost wishes and desires. It could be a promotion at work, an upcoming vacation or resolving a conflict with a family member. No matter what wish is fulfilled in your dream, the positive energy you experience while living out your dream in sleep can help lead you to fulfill your dreams in real life.
What Else Can we Learn from Our Dreams?
Like looking into a mirror, dreams can give us clues about ourselves through the characters and events displayed. Dr. Peter Reznik, staff member of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine and faculty member of the American Institute of Mental Imagery, writes:
“Any person, place or event in the dream holds tremendous significance for understanding ourselves. Nightmares are simply messages from the deepest part of ourselves to our consciousness calling for change. If unheeded, not only may we continue to suffer from the unpleasantness of a "bad" dream, but we run the risk of perpetuating negativity in our waking life.”
“By uncovering the language and symbolism of dreams we can learn about:
Our relationship with the world and ourselves around the time of the dream
The "global" issues (physical and emotional challenges) that we face in our lives
The condition of our body at the time of the dream
Our unconscious beliefs
How to solve our problems”
In many ancient societies, and even today in different cultures around the world, dreams are viewed as a window into the spiritual world, one that can offer you guidance in your daily life. How can you determine what your dreams are trying to tell you?
Dr. Reznik recommends “working the dream” by asking yourself the following three questions:
How do I feel upon awakening from this dream? Determining your feelings about the dream will give you a sense of whether or not the issue brought up by the dream is resolved. For example, if you feel puzzled, the dream may be informing you that there are things in your life you are not aware of. If you feel happy or relieved upon awakening, perhaps some issue in your life was resolved and the dream reflects the change.
What was the setting? The setting speaks of where you are in your inner life. If you were traveling, the dream may speak about your journey in life. If you are in a hospital, the dream may be telling you something about being ill, or possibly recovering. If you are in the school, it may be about education, learning lessons in life. If you are in a foreign country, you are in a place that is foreign to you. Ask yourself how you feel about this country, why this particular and not any other country, what is the first thought that comes to you when you think about this country? That will tell you how you feel about being in this new place.
If this dream was a story, what title would I give it? This will reveal the general theme permeating the dream.
You can also use these general meanings to help narrow down the message further:
“Numbers” in Your Dreams:
#1 Unity, oneness
#2 Conflict, divided mind
#3 Synthesis after having been divided
#4 Construction, home, marriage
#5 Creativity, love, sexuality
#6 Reunion, health, construction at higher level
#7 Ambivalence, possibility of growth and contraction or distraction
#8 Something from past that hasn't being resolved
#9 Completion, it's 3 on higher level
#10 Perfection in everyday life
#13 Coming to oneness after being separated
#14 Connectedness with others
#15 Fulfilling all the possibilities
#16 Death, rebirth
#17 Difficulties finding a way
#20 Trouble in marriage or relationship
Larger numbers are simply to be reduced to one digital number by addition.
“Colors” Associated with Your Body’s Dependant Functions and Emotions:
Red: cardiovascular system, sexual energy, fury
Yellow: urinary system, energy, fear
Blue: thyroid, spiritual energy, detachment
Orange: liver, female strength
Green: gallbladder, growth, envy
Gray: brain, guilt
Violet: emotional life
White: lymphatic system, purity
Dark Black: death
Shiny Black: rebirth, life
More Common Dream Themes & Their Meanings:
Finally, Dr. Reznick suggests paying close attention to the dream’s “red flags” …
What might it mean? Ever had a dream that you are suddenly back in your childhood classroom … knowing you are an adult … feeling embarrassed wondering why you are studying with little children … or dreamt that you are flying or falling …
Or sitting in an open field naked…
“There is a reason for every dream you have …” Dr. Reznick explains what this and other dreams mean for your subconscious.
“Pay particular attention to red flags, which usually come with a purpose of attracting your attention to the most important aspect of the dream. A red flag means that something in the dream is out of place,” he writes. “For example, you are your age, an adult, and you find yourself in your elementary school. You feel embarrassed because you are a grown person and have to study with children.
This dream may be calling your attention to discomfort about having to learn something that feel you should already know.
Another example: you receive your monthly electric bill that is usually under a hundred dollars and it is $1100. You are shocked and outraged. This dream may be showing that you are overspending your energy without realizing the price that you must pay and also the conflicting feelings you may have about working so hard.”
Tips for Restful (and Dream-Filled) Sleep
When you don’t get the sleep your body needs, you could be faced with mild to serious consequences ranging from daytime drowsiness, trouble concentrating, and bouts of irritability to an increased risk of falls and accidents and lower productivity.
You’ll also be less likely to linger in the REM stage of sleep and experience vivid dreams.
Here are some tips to getting sound, dream-filled sleep and feeling refreshed in the morning:
Try sleep relaxation CDs to help heal, repair and reenergize your mind, body, and heart such as the Sleep Easy CD. This excellent CD will help you reach the REM stage of sleep and train your body to:
It’s also crucial that you are able to let go of stress prior to bedtime. Otherwise, your mind and body have to work overtime to cope with all the stress. You’ll go to bed with your mind and emotions still very active and alert, which is not conducive to sleep.
Falling asleep is like shifting gears. It involves a whole different style of functioning than the focused state of attention you have during the day. It requires relaxation, and a kind of "letting go." You need to be able to turn off your mind and "de-focus,” and for this we highly recommend Dr. Peter Reznik’s Staying Healthy in a Stressful World CD.
This top-recommended CD gives you 14 short mental imagery exercises that will help you relieve anger, anxiety, being overwhelmed, guilt, regret, sadness, and more. It teaches you to use Mind-Body Progressive Relaxation to shift gears and increase your vitality and clarity of mind for both immediate and long-term stress relief. It’s an invaluable program to use to help de-stress from today’s hectic lifestyles and fall easily into deep, restful sleep.
SixWise Says ...
“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”
-- Sigmund Freud
Dreamwork: The 5 Important Lessons of Dreams & How to Learn Them
Dreams Really Do Have Meaning, New Study Reveals
National Sleep Foundation: What Happens When You Sleep?
National Sleep Foundation: Dreams and Sleep
Time.com June 15, 2009
International Association of the Study of Dreams
Lemondrop.com June 9, 2010