Why do we dream? Apparently, there’s a good reason for dreaming and dreams are actually beneficial for your health. Even nightmares, no matter how scary they are, can be useful in some ways. Express.co.uk chatted to sleep and energy expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan to find out what it means when you dream.
We’ve all woken up from a bizarre dream confused and upset, but there is a meaning behind every dream you experience.
Technically speaking, dreams are just images, thoughts, or feelings that occur during sleep.
According to the Sleep Foundation, visual imagery is the most common, but dreams can involve all of the senses.
Do you dream in colour or black and white? Can you smell, taste and hear in your dream?
Everyone has a different kind of dream content, but it is usually from a first-person perspective, illogical, provoking strong emotions, and includes elements of your waking life.
What does it mean when you dream?
Dreaming is nothing abnormal, it happens to everyone for about two hours a night.
However, the most intense and memorable dreams happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep.
The majority of REM sleep happens in the hours before waking up.
According to the Sleep Foundation, brain activity ramps up considerably during the REM stages and this causes more vivid, fantastical, and bizarre dreams that may involve elements of waking life.
The purpose of dreaming is hotly debated between sleep experts.
Apparently, dreams play an important role in building memory, processing emotion, and mental housekeeping.
Dr Ramlakhan explained: “Some dreams are thought to be a way of processing what has happened in your day, they are the brain’s way of packing away the information of the day and consolidating memory and filing systems.
“Others can be more meaningful and symbolic. It can be helpful to explore such dreams whether by journaling, talking about them, or reflecting on them.
“They can sometimes – but not always – lead to useful insights and greater self-awareness.”
Dr Ramlakan recommends treating your dreams as a “friendly counsellor or best friend” who is trying to help you make sense and come to terms with what is happening at the moment.
She said: “Bizarre and symbolic dreams can carry messages from our unconscious and are helping us to give voice to something that is deep-seated and emotional.”
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No matter what you believe, dream analysts have been helping clients to turn their lives around through interpreting their dreams and nightmares.
If you are experiencing strange or frightening dreams, you can use a journal to help you understand the underlying messages.
Dr Ramlakhan advised: “Try to write down your dreams as soon as you wake up and avoid talking about your dreams before you write.
“When writing your dreams down, don’t force it – just relax and breathe and allow the images and memories to slowly bubble to the surface.
“Once written down, try and avoid any immediate analysis or interpretation, just get as much detail down and then come back to your record at a later stage.”
If dreams are connected to our experiences and deep emotions, journaling about them can help us to live authentically and act on what it is we truly want in life.