Dreams are characterized as the encounters during the rapid movement of the sleep phase of the eye that have the qualities of a vivid imagery narrative. Dreams do not usually occur at night, but any time a person slips into a subconscious state of mind during sleep. Although we cannot clarify what was going on in our minds while we were sleeping, we are always searching for any significance. The subject matter, then, is whether dreams are a figment of our imagination or whether they will really tell our future and convey our deepest desires. Everyone dreams during sleep from early childhood until the end of life regardless of whether they can remember the dreams or not. Dream memories tend to disappear completely due to their instability within a few minutes of waking up unless we make deliberate attempts to remember them. Maybe, we are designed not to remember all our dreams so that we are able to distinguish dreams and real memories. Studies show that a greater percentage of people woken up during the rapid eye movement phase tend to remember their dreams more. There are four phases of sleep and dreams tend to occur in the fourth phase of sleep, which is the deepest phase of slumber when the brain is most active. Experts say that an average person dreams at least four to six times in a night. Experts state that the dreams have no relation to real thoughts and emotions, others say our dreams may be a reflection our deeper thoughts and our emotions. Recurring dreams often tend to reflect our deepest fears, desires, and concerns (Hyer & Sohnle, 2014). By dream interpretation, people gain insights into their lives and themselves. Some people report similar dream events, but the meaning behind these dreams is unique to each person.
First, dreams can often predict betrayal, usually by a trusted individual. It has often been argued that such dreams are a result of suspicion of another individual. Case in point, if a person dreams of snakes in their house or within the vicinity, it is an indicator of bad news. We found out that snakes in a dream predict betrayal from a close person. A couple of days later, we got into a fight for criticizing her looks in public,which later dawned on us that it might have been a dream come true. This is like the biblical serpent that beguiled Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There are many situations in which dreams come true. However, experts show that when you dream and the events turns out to really happen, it might be pure coincidence, poor recall, or an unconsciously trying to tie together some known information. Second, dreams can occur when an individual is awake, but in a semi-conscious state. These dreams reflect a state of the brain between random eye movement sleep and being awake. Some people with lucid dreams can control the direction of their dreams by changing the dream story. While this may be a good tip especially for nightmares, experts say that it is better for dreams to occur naturally. The peculiarity in comparison to normal dreaming is the presence of self-reflection of the self-person perspective that is present. Lucid dreaming can be induced by an individual willing to experience it. Through various arts and practices such as yoga and meditation, one can achieve lucid dreaming. The advantage of this type of dreams is that they do not awaken the individual as would nightmares. Lucid dreaming reduces the emotions experienced by dreamers by allowing them to create a dream world model and build a relationship with it (Rotenberg, 2015).
Third, dreams vary in context depending on the age of an individual. Children start having relative dreams which become more complex throughout their childhood. Their dreams are mostly drawn from social interactions with their peers and their parents. T
he intensity varies with the level of interaction within a day. We are enabled to have rich and more dreams that we can recall well as we grow. Experts say that one of the explanations why children dreams are less complex is because their language is not rich enough to fully describe their dreams. Some scholars suggest that kids normally dream without full knowledge that they are dreaming (Piaget, 2013). Older people tend to have dreams that look into the future or are a reflection of the past; of possible opportunities and regrets and mostly missed chances. Under certain circumstances, they may dream of loved ones dying.
On the other hand, nightmares, or as commonly known, bad dreams are common in both children and adults. They are often a manifestation of trauma, conflict, emotional stress, illnesses or drug use. Recurring nightmares require special consideration, and one may be required to seek mental health care. Mental health care providers may be able to figure out the cause of these bad dreams and provide tips of being at ease. The most important thing to remember about nightmares is that no matter how vivid and fear-instilling the dream is, the dream is unreal and does not have a chance of happening in real life. They can cause extreme distress and are believed by some cultures to be the work of malevolent spirits (Campbell & Johnson, 2016). Unlike good dreams, nightmares can jolt the individual awake and returning to sleep may become a problem. A few theories suggest that increased metabolism can cause nightmares, especially if the individual ate too late and ate too much. The immediate effect of having nightmares is insomnia. Nightmares make people fearful of falling asleep and often make them sleep for less hours or take stimulants to increase brain activity.
Sleep position often influences the kind of dreaming during sleep. For examples, people sleeping on their bellies tend to have erotic dreams. Identical twins share the same interest in life, and their genetic basis is much stronger such that they can share dreams and nightmares. What you hear and smell affects your dreams. Our minds tend to interpret the noise and smells occurring around us while sleeping. The smell and noise signals are interpreted and incorporated into our dreams during sleep. Sometimes, what happens to individuals in their dreams is an indicator of their external and immediate surroundings. For instance, having a dream about being naked in a public place speaks of underlying vulnerability or the individual has a secret that he does not want the others to find out (Freud, 2013). The interpretation of this depends on whether the people in the dream can actually see the individual naked or not. Others, such as death or falling into an abyss often foretell the end of one thing and the beginning of the other. It symbolizes letting go and allowing oneself to be open to new opportunities, whether at work or in personal life.
Dreams have been explored and interpreted since the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. These ancient people considered dreams as supernatural inventions. There are many theories about why we dream, but none of these are proven. Some scholars state that dreams have no meaning or purpose. Others say that they are necessary for mental, physical, and social wellbeing. According to experts, dreams exist for several reasons including; procession of emotions, incorporations of memories and helping to solve problems in our lives. Some psychologies believe that dreams provide insights into improving one’s health, relationships and career.
Normally sleeping with a disturbing problem, we often wake up with a feeling of relaxation and some solution. Science reviews suggest that sleeping on something important can result in smarter decisions than over thinking about it (Domoff, 2013). There is an importance of trying to make some sense out of your dreams. If a certain dream intrigued you or you want some meaning behind them, consider keeping a memory of this dream in a diary or journal. Give these dreams a title in case you want to refer to them. In writing them down, do not judge yourself as dreams sometimes may go overboard against social norms.
In conclusion, dreams are a product of our subconscious minds, which is why it is important for every individual to express what the subconscious experiences. They not only allow individuals to view things in a better perspective but also encourage them, though asleep, to come up with better ways of solving a problem. Dreams also force us into acknowledging the presence of something that we are avoiding. This is especially true of personal issues that may have been accompanied by a grudge. When the brain is most relaxed, it brings to focus what the individual needs to deal with. The dream process in itself is extremely complicated, and scientists have come up with theories to explain why, or not, we dream. According to them, dreams have no meaning and are a mere by-product of an exhausted body and mind. It is, however, clear that dreams tell us much about ourselves than we could know when we are conscious and awake. In addition, recurring dreams are a sign of a procrastinated activity, and until solved, it will plague the dreamer. Until scientists can pinpoint the causes of dreams, what we have to go by are theories that are subject to change with time, space and the demographic they address.
Domoff, G. W. (2013). Finding meaning in dreams: A quantitative approach. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.
Freud, S. (2013). The interpretation of dreams. Redditch :Read Books Ltd.
Campbell, J. M., & Johnson,C. R., (2016) Sleep Monsters and Superheroes: Empowering Children Through Creative Dreamplay: Empowering Children through Creative Dreamplay, 3. Santa Barbara: Praeger
Hyer, L. A., & Sohnle, S. (2014). Trauma among older people: Issues and treatment. Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge.
Piaget, J. (2013). Play, dreams and imitation in childhood (Vol. 25). Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge.