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What Are Dreams and How to Understand Them?

Dreams are images, emotions, sensations and ideas that occur spontaneously in our minds during certain stages of sleep. Dreams are usually very unrealistic and outside the control of the dreamers, even though they may seem very real during sleep. They can be terrifying, frightening, wonderful or very boring. But what are our dreams really all about?


To this day there is no logical explanation to answer the long-asked question “what are dreams”. However, there are several theories that attempt to answer the question. According to one theory, dreaming is an incidental result of brain activity and synthesis. This theory claims that dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different parts of the brain. Another theory suggests that dreams are simply the brain’s internal excitations of long-term memory and that the bizarre nature of our dreams is a result of the format of the long-term memory. A third theory claims that dreams are only metaphorical interpretations of our expectations in waking life. This means that expectations that produce emotional responses that are not acted upon during the waking hours, will become dreams at night. Dreaming allows us to deal with our emotions in a safe place. These are just a few of the many theories that attempt to explain dreams, but no theory has been scientifically proven.

Understanding and interpreting dreams

We all dream throughout the night, even those of us who claim not to. In our dreams, we are often with our family members, friends or other people we know. Dreams provide us with insights into problems and wishes in our waking lives. However, if we want to decode our dreams, first we need to take note of the symbols, patterns, and colors in the dreams.

Dreams are cryptic and symbolic in nature, so we must be careful when it comes to interpretation. One of the most common mistakes is to interpret our dreams literally. Also, one needs to know that sometimes the people that appear in our dreams can represent types of people rather than themselves.

We need to always interpret our dreams withing the overall context of the emotions we felt upon waking. We have to analyze our emotional reaction to the dream – whether we were excited, happy, empowered, scared,angry, or confused? Then we need to ask ourselves have we recently felt these emotions in our waking lives? There is a huge probability that our emotions in the dreams are replaying emotions that are already impacting us during our waking hours.

When it comes to symbols that appear in our dreams, there are no universal standard meanings for all the symbols. There are a few common symbols that are universal, but we each have our own unique dream vocabulary that we will eventually discover.

Another thing we need to do for better interpretation is to record our dreams. Everyone needs to keep a notebook next to the bed or a recording device to write down or record the dream immediately upon awakening in the morning.


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