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Frequently Asked Questions About DreamsHere you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions on dreaming and dream interpretation.
What are dreams? “Dreams are a sequence of images, etc. passing through a sleeping person’s mind." (Webster’s Dictionary) Dictionary.com: A series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. This transpires most often several times during sleep in a stage called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Dreams often portray events which are impossible or unlikely in reality, and are usually outside the control of the dreamer. Many people report experiencing strong emotions while dreaming, and frightening or upsetting dreams are referred to as nightmares. The scientific discipline of dream research is oneirology.
How Much Do You Dream?
There are five stages of sleep. Most people need an average of eight hours of sleep per night. Four out of five stages are without Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Non REM sleep makes up about 80% and REM sleep 20% of the time we are asleep. We dream approximately 5 to 6 times per night during REM sleep and last as long as the average daydream.
What does Research show about the Dreaming Brain?
a) Most of the Brain is active when we dream, only the executive and sensory functions are off line (the rational thinking and sensing parts).
b) Dreams seem to process unresolved emotions – the Limbic system (that associates emotions with sensory information) is highly active in the dream state.
c) Language centers on the left side of the brain are off-line, but the same centers on the right side, responsible for processing associations are ON in dreams.
Conclusion: The Language of Dream is that of association, in particular emotional associations, not the literal naming by which we identify things in waking life.
Why do we dream? Dreams work to solve the problems of the dreamer's conscious, waking life, and they work to quicken in the dreamer new potentials which are his or hers to claim. From a spiritual perspective, the Bible is full of examples of how God speaks to us through dreams.
Why are dreams so bizarre and unreal? There are a number of reasons. First: the part of the brain responsible for rational interpretation of stimuli, is not active (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). However, brain mechanisms responsible for awareness and recognition of stimulus are as active as when we are awake – we are conscious and aware and processing all the information arising from within in our brain - but no longer censor it with the filter of rationality – in our dreams we are free to experience all the information about our life situations. Second: the left lobe and language center of the brain (which assigns things name identities) is off, while the right lobe (which processes associations not words) is on. Therefore dreams speaks in associations - pictographs (picture language), metaphor, analogies, phrases, and identify things by function and feeling – not names.
I don't dream. Is there something I can do about this? Yes, everyone dreams, but some don't remeber them. Review our Dream Interpretation Guide which has been written in response to questions of this nature. It covers most of the dreaming process and shows dream recall, how to record your dream symbols, dream analysis and interpretation, the dream journal, how to give your dream true meaning and much more step-by-step approaches and analysis techniques.
How can I learn to interpret my dreams? Read How to Interpret Dreams which provides a simple method of dream analysis and interpretation. We provide easy and fast access to an online Dream Dictionary too.
I remember many dreams each night and can't record them all. Which are the important ones?
We recommend putting a recorder next to your bed. Also see Principles for Interpreting Dreams.
Can I choose what kind of dreams I want to have? Most definitely. One of the methods is through dream incubation, where you focus on a specific question prior to going to sleep and set your intent to be woken as soon as your question as been answered. It is very important to write the question down prior to going to sleep - often you may find that you have either forgotten the entire question or forgotten how you posed it and having it verbatim is very beneficial when interpreting. Usually the answer comes during the same session of sleep. If not, I suggest that you repeat your question prior to your next sleep session. Do so until you are satisfied that it has been answered. Also, using meditation to set your tone before going to sleep is beneficial. For example, if you wish to experience joyful dreams, dig into your library of happy memories or thoughts and relive them in your mind until you nod off. Also see Lucid Dreaming.
What do the feelings in my dreams mean? The feelings you experience are important to remember as they are one of the many keys to delineating the meaning to them. See how to interpret dreams.
What are nightmares? A nightmare is a very distressing dream which usually forces at least partial awakening. The dreamer may feel any number of disturbing emotions in a nightmare, such as anger, guilt, sadness or depression, but the most common feelings are fear and anxiety. Nightmare themes may vary widely from person to person and from time to time for any one person. Probably the most common theme is being chased. Adults are commonly chased by an unknown male figure whereas children are commonly chased by an animal or some fantasy figure. Current research on the lucid dreaming approach (where one recognizes during a dream that one is dreaming, hence gaining a degree of conscious control) is being done by doctors. Also see Nightmares and Treatment.
What does Color Mean in Dreams See Dreaming in Colors.
What do Numbers Mean in Dreams See Dreaming about Numbers.
What are wet dreams? Wet dreams begin during puberty when the body starts making more testosterone, the major male hormone. Although some guys may feel embarrassed or even guilty about having wet dreams, they can't be controlled voluntarily (that is, you can't stop them from happening) - and almost all guys normally experience them at some time during puberty and even as adults. For adults, it indicates the flow of your creative energies. A good orgasm experience may be an omen of success or a breakthrough. A frustrating sexual experience usually is a symptom of an energy blockage. Also read about Sexual Dreams.
Are the people we see in our dreams really those people? Sometimes they are reflecting the actual people we're seeing in our dreams (particularly in premonition dreams), but most often these images represent us and not others we may dream about and negative content does not necessarily mean something horrible is going to happen to us or others. Dreaming is the Universe mirroring back to you that which you need to recognize, appreciate or resolve within yourself.
Why do I have recurring dreams? It is believed that recurring dreams are a representation that one has not yet realized the answer to a problem or reach a level of awareness necessary to prosper. In cases where a person is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, this is extremely true. After therapy many of these nightmarish episodes will diminish. Read more about Recurring Dreams.
What are dream symbols? Dream symbols are images that represent a message our subconscious/unconsciouse or where God is communicating to us. Also see Dream Symbols.
Does God speak in my dreams?
Here are some examples of what the scriptures say:
Not only are dreams important revelations throughout the Bible, but mankind's most important event, the birth of Jesus, was foretold in dreams. In the book of Matthew alone there are many references to the significance of dreams. In Matthew five dreams of guidance for the holy family are found. Book of Job, 33:14-16: "For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction..." Read more about God Speaks in Your Dreams.