When we talk about analysing your dreams, we’re not talking about the fluff you may hear from a fortune teller or tarot cards. Dream psychology is serious business. Take a look.
Dreams are “the royal road to… the unconscious,” or at least, Sigmund Freud seemed to think so. The psychologist was one of the first in a line of many to think about what our crazy dreams may have meant. So much so that he wrote an entire book about it called The Interpretation of Dreams. If you’re not the sort of person who wants to read a tome about dream psychology, don’t worry. We’re not going to sit and tell you all about it either, but the fact is that since Freud, thinking about what your dreams mean and how they can affect your health has been studied over and over again.
The first step to finding out more about your dreams is of course to find out why you’re dreaming in the first place. It’s not an essential part of life and it doesn’t directly affect any of your decisions, right? According to Freud’s theory of the subconscious dreams allow us to think about things that our waking mind wouldn’t otherwise allow us to. That’s why analysing your dreams can help you figure out issues in your waking life a little better.
You dream during both Repetitive Eye Movement sleep (that very deep sleep you have) and also during non-REM sleep, but you’ll dream better and more vividly during REM sleep. So whilst sleep is a good way to rejuvenate yourself, that deep sleep may also be helping you work through some things.
Rosalind Cartwright, a PhD professor at Rush University in Chicago sees dreams as a way of coping with stress. She says, “It’s almost like having an internal therapist, because you associate [through dreams] to previous similar feelings, and you work through the emotion related to it so that it is reduced by morning.” So, while you may think of it as just something that happens when you sleep, it’s actually a really good way to help your mood.
Research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that when you don’t dream, your brain actually produces fewer nerve cells. Other studies also show that dreams can help you with depression and ease stress. This is because analysing and thinking about problems whilst you are asleep can help you put your life in perspective.
Analysing your dream
There isn’t necessarily a simple way to analyse your dreams. After all there are numerous psychologists that will give you a different perspective on what each dream means. But, before you can even analyse your dream you need to remember what you have dreamt.
The first step is to write it all down – don’t commit your dreams to memory because youwill forget. Sometimes you’ll remember only parts of your dream, which is absolutely okay – right down anything you remember, how you felt in your dream, how you felt after the dream and even how you feel about it now.
You should also write down abstract things – colours, shapes – it all helps you determine what it meant. Any significant items, people or things in the dreams should also be remembered. There are a lot of universal symbols that you may be able to pinpoint that will help make things clearer.
Once you have everything down, you can then take a look at some common themes. It is of course preferable to talk to a therapist about them, as they will be able to help you interpret your dreams and then use that information to work through the issues that are troubling you.
Most importantly, remember to sleep tight. You have lots of work to do whilst you slumber.
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