The heart races, the lungs burn, and the legs are getting heavy. A rushed look over the shoulder reveals that your pursuer is close. With each step, it comes closer while an abyss opens up in front of you. You are trapped, and the situation seems hopeless until suddenly the alarm clock rings. Sometimes it is wonderful to wake up and realize that everything was just a bad dream. But what is the meaning of this dream?
Being followed is a typical nocturnal scenario. In the 1950s, researchers developed the ‘Typical Dream Questionnaire’ to find recurring patterns in dreams. Since then, the questionnaire has often been modified and expanded so that today there is a kind of ranking of the most common dreams. No matter which study you look at, topics such as persecution, being late, nudity, falling, flying, failing an exam, school and work or the death of a close person are always in the front places. The daily use of technology has not been able to change the dreaming pattern to the extent that it must have by now.
Men and women dream differently.
The research also shows that women and men dream differently. In men, money, sex and aggression are the dominant issues, while women tend to dream of interpersonal conflicts, people or clothes. What seems astonishingly cliched at first glance is not really a surprise. Dreams have to do with our waking world of experience, and we know, for example, that men have more sexual thoughts during the day. It reflects in our dreams. In fact, our dream is not as decoupled from reality as many think. Most dreams are about basic topics of waking life that affect almost everyone. Of course, the illustration of dreams differs, but usually, a basic pattern can be seen.
The meaning of many dreams can be traced this way. Like that of the famous ‘toilet dream’, which deals with the urgent need to go to the toilet and not being able to find one. Behind this is the concern that an immediate need will not be met due to the current circumstances. In reality, of course, it is usually a different need. Another classic is exam dreams, which studies have shown to be more of a problem for people with a higher level of education. It supports the assumption that the waking world of thought affects our dreams. Behind it are the fear of failure and the feeling of being poorly prepared. Because the brain uses cognitive experiences and we have all had test situations. Such dreams often feel very real and have many emotions attached.
How to get rid of nightmares – Recording Your Dreams.
What we dream of also allows us to conclude the character. Anxious and depressed people dream of falling more often than self-confident and optimistic people. Either way, repeating dreams can be a kind of hint from consciousness. Against the fear of exams in dreams, the repeated experience may be a sign to help you prepare better and not fail.
It is sometimes helpful to write down dreams. In this way, unresolved issues can be brought to awareness. However, because we mostly forget dreams as soon as we wake up, it’s not that easy. Different brain centres are active during sleep than during the day. Therefore, when our mind switches on when we wake up, information is often lost. Staying in bed, a few minutes more in the morning makes you exist in the state between sleeping and waking up, so you can try to remember the dreams even after you wake up.
It helps to give the dream some more time so that you can write it down. Incidentally, this is also an excellent strategy to get rid of nightmares. If you reflect on a dream awake, you can think of a coping strategy. This approach is called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy. You repeatedly imagine a different ending for a dream; you rewrite the script of the dream. Studies show that this strategy works amazingly well. However, if you still suffer from nightmares or have a mental illness, you should contact a doctor immediately because self-therapy could worsen the symptoms.
Why do we Dream?
So today we know a lot about the meaning and origin of dreams. On the other hand, it is still controversial in science which biological purpose the dreams serve. Some neurologists believe that dreams are nothing more than a senseless storm of neurons. Precisely because we immediately forget them, we shouldn’t worry about them. However, many scientists believe that dreams serve to process daytime experiences or help to consolidate what they have learned.
Perhaps dreams also train the brain to deal with certain situations, so they serve brain development and maturation. It suggests that infants and toddlers dream particularly intensely. Some researchers also argue that we learn to deal with anxiety situations in dreams. It is based on an evolutionary biological concept that those who avoid dangerous situations have a higher chance of survival. Whatever the purpose of dreaming ultimately serves, it is clear that we all dream every night, even if we don’t remember it.