What You Need to Know About Your Dreams and What They Mean
Prevention & Treatment Dream analyst Lauren Lawrence talks about the meanings of common dreams and what causes them.
What are the top 3-5 most common dreams that we have?
Lauren Lawrence: The most common dreams are those of anxiety, self-affirmation and wish-fulfillment. Whereas anxiety dreams are working through something we fear, regret or worry over such as dreams of being chased or knifed or fired, self-affirmation dreams build us up and enhance our self-view. These dreams often give us attributes — such as the ability to fly — that make it easier to achieve our goals in life. Wish-fulfillment dreams fulfill wishes, plain and simple. These are the dreams where we win the lottery, find gold or a wallet filled with hundreds or date a celebrity.
The dream motif of being naked in a public place is among the most common. It reveals the sense or worry over having been exposed or embarrassed. Yet this dream also symbolizes a certain vulnerability. In another view, the dream reveals the wish for attention or to be noticed. Teeth falling out dreams, another common motif, are gender specific. Women wish to be pregnant, to fill a void or emptiness in their lives, while men are having a sexual fantasy. Flying dreams reveal the wish to lighten up and to rise above one's problems. Often tied to dependency issues, these dreams wish for independence or freedom.
Usually dreamt by perfectionists, dreams of missing an exam reveal the conscientiousness of the dreamer and also signify preparedness issues. I call these caffeine dreams, as they keep dreamers on their toes.
Does the amount of sleep we get affect the types of dreams we have?
Yes. I always say quality sleep engenders quality dreams. The dreamer must achieve deep sleep which usually requires at least six hours to get into the zone.
Is there an ideal amount of sleep we need to have dreams?
Is our ability to have dreams an indicator of good sleep?
Yes. Those who dream and connect with their unconscious mind generally function better during wakefulness. They are working through the unconscious material. Dreaming is like downloading a file. The file is opened via interpretation.
Is lucid dreaming achieved by a healthy sleep schedule?
My paper on lucid dreaming, "The Problematic Coherency of Lucid Dreaming" published in The Journal of Mind and Behavior in 2010, tells all. Suffice it to say, lucid dreaming is an oxymoron. Dreams are not lucid productions. The moment willful, conscious awareness is brought into the mix, the unconscious becomes inaccessible. Where there is will, there is ego. And there is no ego in dreams.
What are some foods to eat to help avoid bad dreams?
Warm milk is always soothing to the psyche. Chocolate is as well. This is why small squares are left by the bedsides on pillows in the best hotels all over the world. What you don't want to have is spicy food or pickles or anything that may upset the digestive system. Alcohol often interferes with the circadian rhythms and REM sleep and should be avoided.
Hopefully one understands the importance of dreams. I have always said, "Dreams are to the mind, what exercise is to the body." As such, one must always write them down. It is best to keep a pen and paper by your bedside. Upon awakening, keep the eyes shut. Once the conscious world is let in, the dream dissipates and is sucked back into the unconscious mind. Try to remember the day residue and the dream antecedent. This helps with the interpretation. Jot it all down and then look at it again before going to sleep. Because dreams help us solve problems, it is important to remember their nocturnal messages. The very act of writing down dreams makes it easier to remember them all.