Dreams can be a source of wonder and a real talking point, but experts also believe they can have deeper effects on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Ever woken from a deep slumber completely baffled by the contents of your dreams? You’re throwing a party in your old house when your boss turns up hand in hand with your ex, which you almost fail to notice because you’re frantically looking for your car that you’ve somehow managed to misplace. What’s more, this all seems so real and, well, normal.
And since the whole world locked down earlier this year amid the Coronavirus pandemic, our vivid dreams have become something of a talking point so it seems, with more of us than ever turning to Google to decipher the meaning behind our colorful slumber-time thoughts. I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had with my girlfriends recently, which all begin with a chorus of a delighted “I’m glad it’s not just me!”
During the night, as your body rests, your brain whirs into action, moving and sorting through random content from past and present and slotting it together like an errant jigsaw. But while we know a lot about the brain and its functions, the notion of dreaming and potential meanings is still a relatively unexplored concept. Many believe dreams are our brain’s way of deciphering and making sense of the day’s events, and with more to take in and make sense of at the moment, this could explain the increase in vivid dreams.
But whatever the reason, there are certainly benefits aplenty to these sometimes bizarre night-time wonders…
Suppress the stress
As well as enabling your body to rest, experts believe dreams are crucial for lowering stress levels by allowing you to process worries from your day. Think of it like your own personal internal therapist with whom you can repeatedly discuss your feelings and work through them until, in the morning, they no longer seem so bad. That’s gotta be a damn sight cheaper than the real thing!
An American study has also revealed that dreams can help you to understand your relationships. Apparently, if your relationship is in crisis and you dream about your partner having an affair, it might give you the final push towards separation, whereas if your relationship is healthy, it can survive these sorts of negative dreams.
Rehearse real life
You might think you’re completely unaware when you’re asleep, but there is a breed of dream, known as the lucid dream, which actually enables you to take control of events and steer them in the direction you want. According to dream researchers at Berne University in Switzerland, the frontal lobes, which are responsible for logical thinking and normally turned off when you sleep, are actually active during lucid dreams. This means you’re aware you’re dreaming and you’re able to take the dream in whatever direction you want. Pretty neat, huh?
Studies have shown that people who practice controlling their dreams can live out certain events or relive old ones and work out how to deal with things differently, which can help them develop a sense of peace.
Ever found yourself sitting at work, wracking your brain for a solution or idea, then the minute you get into bed and your head hits the pillow… EUREKA! This is because the way your brain works during a dream can help to spark ideas.
Sleep researcher, Sara Mednick, from the University of California explains that when you dream, different areas of your brain communicate with each other making ideas and memories easily shared and interchangeable. Dreams are also capable of reprocessing memories from the day before, looking for important newly learnt abilities and anchoring them in your memory. Sleep is an instance when a flood of daily information can be converted into knowledge. So who knows… you could invent the next big thing while you sleep, which would be pretty awesome!
Tune into your body
Finally, many reports suggest that your body can use dreams to reveal information. American doctor, Bernhard Siegel, studied a patient who repeatedly dreamt that a torturer was holding a white-hot coal under his chin. Tests later revealed the man was suffering from thyroid cancer. But don’t panic, just because you have bad dreams, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re seriously ill. Dreams can alert you to feeling mildly unwell. For example, you might bang your head in a dream and when you wake you’re suffering from a headache. They can also indicate simple needs, such as if you’re thirsty or need to use the loo – my dreams are often dominated by looking for the bathroom!
To find out more about the whole concept of dreams, I spoke to intuitive wellness practitioner, Deborah Larmour , who shared her thoughts on our night-time antics…
“A dream or meditative vision can be our sat nav for direction to a situation or event,” Deborah explains. “To me, meditations and dreams are very similar; they use the sub-conscious to open files that need addressing; they are our sleeping thoughts, which, if we address them in our waking life, can be solved and sorted. Dreams can also help with emotional trauma and act as some form of cathartic way to express grief. “I guess dreams are simply an extension of our consciousness, our thoughts, and inner most feelings,” she explains. “Whether asleep or awake, they share information and it’s our free will to take action, to understand or just acknowledge them. “My Shamanic training and learning over many years has helped me understand and interpret dreams. To me, dreams are personal information and are very unique to each person. They represent your higher self and can offer solutions to unsolved problems.”
Dish the dirt
We’d love to hear about your crazy lockdown dreams, no matter how bizarre or risqué. Pop them in the comments below and we’ll ask Deborah to share her interpretations…