Would you like to hear a shocking statistic? Well, we spend approximately twenty-five years of our lives asleep! In that time, we are likely to experience around 300,000 dreams.
It’s thought that babies dream more than anyone else – but, at that age, nothing is remembered. Children may dream for four or even five hours per night. However, by the time we are adults, the time spent dreaming drops to around one to two hours per sleep.
I’m sure you know our sleep cycle is a series of stages; generally, we dream during the REM period – which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. REM could last between five and forty-five minutes, and a REM cycle is repeated approximately every sixty-ninety minutes.
The problem with dreams, even those that seem vivid upon waking – is that their memory fades within minutes. Unless you immediately write down any pertinent details, the dream is lost forever.
Unless you wake in the night at the end of a REM cycle, you are unlikely to remember the dream that occurred earlier in the night. You will probably only be able to recall the last dream you had, if one occurred, in the final REM cycle before you wake in the morning.
One other quirk of dreams is that only the visual brain neurons fire up during a REM cycle; so, visually – you could dream in black & white or colour. However, you are unlikely to experience anything to do with smell or taste.
You might think that being fascinated by the meaning of dreams or dream interpretation is a modern-day phenomenon, but there are documents to suggest that dreams have been considered possible omens or prophecies for over 4000 years.
Not everyone in history considers dreams significant; Shakespeare famously said there were “children of the idle brain!”. But it is probably well-known psychiatrists – Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud that we have to thank for our take, on the way we look at dreaming today.
Freud published a book called The Interpretation of Dreams; he believed that dreams; were heavily linked to the unconscious mind. When working with patients, he would ask the dreamer to say whatever came to mind; when they thought of a specific element in the dream – something he coined ‘free association’.
Jung then picked up on this work, and described dreams as shared knowledge that exists within us all – a sort of ‘collective unconscious’. He believed that listening to the dream/s, could advise us on the state of our lives in a way that our conscious mind might otherwise block – in essence, ignore your dreams at your peril!
As you might imagine, there are many thoughts today on whether we can harness the power of our dreams; to move our lives in a certain direction. Or, whether they are just a jumbled mess of things we have seen, heard, thought or felt – with no real hidden meaning.
Many people believe that dreams are like a creative outlet, and can be a very healthy source of inspiration.
Dreams may help us to work out problems; that we have been mulling over; in turn, we may release some pent-up anxiety.
There are strong links between dreams, communication between those that have passed over and the living, telepathy and precognition.
Some believe that when dead people appear in dreams, it is because they have a specific message to convey. In years gone by, it would have been treated more sinisterly – as a death omen!
Precognition is when someone dreams of a future event before it occurs. Going back to Jung, he did witness many patients who appeared to experience precognition, especially concerning future health problems.
Many people report reoccurring dreams, and there is some thought that this can be tied up; with past life memories.
People near death; or that medically even die before being brought back to life; report, out-of-body experiences; that can be likened to dreams. One of the most common themes in this scenario is the sensation of flying.
Perhaps, one of the more elusive concepts within dreaming is that of Lucid Dreaming, a process whereby a person becomes aware they are dreaming and can influence some of the direction of the dream, maybe even the outcome!
So, during 2023 – we are going to explore some of the most commonly dreamed dreams. If you want to join in, then keep a pen & paper by your bedside and get ready to record any dreams as soon as you wake. Make a note of any detail, no matter how insignificant it seems. Where you were, who was there, a specific event, colours, objects and any sensations of feelings – were you happy, scared, uncertain and anything else of note?
Then, together we will see what your dreams are trying to tell you!
Ref: The Element Encyclopaedia of the Psychic World