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Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. 

~Edgar Cayce~

One can write, think and pray exclusively of others; dreams are all egocentric. 

 ~Evelyn Waugh~

A dream has power to poison sleep. 

~Percy Bysshe Shelley~

Those who dream by day
are cognisant of many things which escape those who dream
only by night.

~Edgar Allan Poe~

You see things; and you
say, "Why?" But I
dream things that
never were; and I
say, "Why not?"

~George Bernard Shaw~












Dreams combine verbal, visual and emotional stimuli into a sometimes broken nonsensical storyline. We can sometimes solve our problems in our sleep...or can we? Many experts disagree on exactly what the purpose of our dreams may be. Are they strictly random brain impulses or are our brains working through issues from our daily lives while we sleep…as a sort of coping mechanism? But whatever the answer is we have a lot to learn from our dreams.

For centuries we’ve tried to work out just why our brains put on these 'shows' for us. Early civilisations thought dream worlds were real...worlds they could only enter whilst asleep...sometimes I think this myself in a way…because my dreams feel so real and they are so weird, being set in what looks like a completely different world to ours. lol There are many theories as to what dreams are but they basically fall into two categories:


1. The idea that dreams are only physiological stimulations

2. The idea that dreams are psychologically necessary

Physiological theories are based on the idea that when we dream it is to exercise neural connections that are thought to affect the way we learn things.

Psychological theories are based on the idea that when we dream it lets us sort out things from our waking lives such as the events of our day...our problems and things which need a lot of our attention but we don't have time to deal with whilst awake. Some researchers and scientists believe it is a combination of both these ideas.


Sigmund Freud



We've had many dream 'theorists' but the first and foremost is Sigmund Freud. Freud's theories are those of the psychological kind and are based on the idea of 'repressed longing'. These are the desires that we aren't able to express in a social setting. I'm not too sure about this one. If you go by what I dreamed a few nights ago...why would I want to pull a 10" piece of cotton 'rope' from out of my top lip??? OK…well...the next bit kind of explains that. Oooo errr...do I go on writing this??? lol

Dreams let the unconscious mind act out those unacceptable thoughts and desires. For this reason, Freud's theory about dreams focuses mainly on sexual desires and symbolism. (Why did I decide to write this? lol) For example, any cylindrical object in a dream represents the thingy (uh-uh...I knew I shouldn't have started writing this! lol), whilst a cave or an enclosed object with an opening represents the girl thingy. Well we all know what that represents so I won't go into that. According to Freud, this indicates a suppressed longing for sex. He lived during the Victorian era and people during that time were sexually repressed, which explains why he came to his conclusions.



Carl Jung


Carl Jung studied under Freud but soon decided that what he believed was not the exactly the same as Freud and he decided to go in a different direction. He agreed with the psychological origin of dreams but instead of saying that dreams came from our primal needs and repressed wishes, he felt that dreams allowed us to reflect on our waking selves and solve our daily problems and be able to think through important issues.




In 1973, two researchers Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley brought forth another theory which threw out old ideas. Their research on what was going on in the brain whilst we were asleep gave brought the idea that dreams were just the result of random electrical brain impulses which pulled images from stored experiences in our memory. The said that these images didn't form the stories that we remember when we wake...our dreams...but that our waking minds, trying to make sense of the images, create the stories without us realising it…because the brain wants to make sense of what it has experienced. This theory, which is known as activation-synthesis hypothesis, (Don't you just love getting your teeth around big words? lol) created a big rift in the dream research arena because it was a giant step away from the accepted theories. But...this theory has withstood the test of time and is still one of the more prominent dream theories.




Our Sleep Cycle

During our sleep time we go through 5 sleep stages:

1. First is the stage where we are in a very light sleep and one which we can very easily wake from.

2. This is a slightly deeper sleep.

3 and 4 are our deepest sleep. Our brain activity through these stages is gradually slowing down so that by deep sleeping we experience nothing but what are called 'delta brain waves'...these are the slowest brain waves.

5. About 90 minutes after we go to sleep we being REM sleep. This is the 5th stage.

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and was discovered by University of Chicago researchers Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman, Ph.D in 1953. REM sleep is characterised by movements of the eyes.

During REM seep several physiological changes take place. The heart rate and breathing quickens, our blood pressure rises (are they on about sex again???), we can't regulate our body temperature and our brain activity increases to the same level as when we are awake...this is the Alpha level. Sometimes this level can go even higher. The rest of our body is paralysed until we leave REM sleep. This paralysis is caused by the release of glycine (an amino acid) from the brain stem onto motoneurons (neurons that conduct impulses from the brain to the spinal cord). (This makes sleep a bit scary...not sure I want to go to sleep again! lol)

Because REM sleep is the sleep stage where our dreaming takes place, nature takes hold and brings on the paralysis so that we don't act on our dreams. If nature didn't do this we could end up very bruised if someone laying next to us dreaming was dreaming about playing football...they would be kicking us! lol

The 4 stages before REM sleep are called non-REM sleep (that's a clever name…wonder how long it took for them to come up with it? lol)...this is known as NREM. Although most of our dreams take place during REM sleep, more recent research has shown that dreams can occur during any kind of sleep stage. Confused? Yes me too...don't worry! lol This kind of sleep is known as "covert NREM" sleep which makes an appearance during NREM sleep. Most NREM dreams don't have the intensity of REM dreams though.

Throughout the night, we go through these 5 stages several times...the pattern in repeated over and over and each cycle includes more REM sleep and less deep sleep (stages 3 and 4). By the morning we are having almost all stage one, two and 5 (REM) sleep.


What Happens If You Don't Get Any REM Sleep?

Originally, researchers thought that if you didn't get REM sleep then you didn't dream. They thought that dreams were a kind of safety valve that helped your brain to let off steam which you couldn't do whilst awake. William Dement, MD did a study in 1960 where subjects were awakened every time they entered REM sleep. His findings included mild psychological disturbances such as anxiety, irritability and difficulty concentrating. He also noted that these people had an increased appetite. Some studies backed up this theory but others did not.

More studies tried to make a connection with lack of REM sleep and difficulty in remembering things. An indisputable snag in the loss-of-memory-function idea was a man who had experienced brain injury that resulted in him experiencing no REM sleep. He completed law school and had no problems in remembering his day-to-day life.

The latest theories on REM sleep are associated with learning. Researchers are trying to determine the effects that REM sleep and the lack of REM sleep have on learning different types of skills, mainly physical skills. This connection is very strong in some aspects due to the fact that infants and toddlers have much more REM sleep than adults.



It is said that five minutes after we wake up from a dream we have forgotten 50% of the content. Ten minutes later, we've forgotten 90%. We don't forget our daily actions that quickly, so why our dreams?

Freud theorised that we forget our dreams because they contain thoughts and wishes which we have repressed and so we wouldn't want to remember them anyway. Other research says that the simple reason is that things get in our way. Humans are forward-thinking creatures by nature and so remembering something when we first wake is difficult.

A dream researcher, L. Strumpell, believed that many things contribute to our not being able to remember our dreams. One was that many tings are forgotten when you first way up, such as physical sensations. He also said the fact that many dream images are not very intense and would therefore be easy to forget. Another reason, which is probably the strongest, is that we learn and remember both by association and repetition. As dreams are usually unique and quite vague to begin with, it stands to reason that we would have trouble remembering them. For example, if someone says something to you which doesn't immediately click with anything you have experienced, you may need them to repeat it in order to remember it or even to understand it. As we cannot go back (normally) into our dreams to experience something again, the details that are out of our realm of experience, often escape us.

Some pointers on how to remember your dreams:

1. When you go to bed tell yourself that you will remember your dreams. You can also do what I suggested in this week's class on crystals and dreams, to help you remember a dream which was to get into bed and relax as much as you can, breathe slowly but deeply…in through your nose and out through your mouth…then when you feel you are as relaxed as you can be form your hand into a fist and hold it in the centre of your chest. Close your eyes and say “I will remember my dreams when I wake” Say this 3 times...once out loud and twice to yourself.

2. Set your alarm to go off every hour and a half so you'll wake up around the times that you are leaving REM sleep, this is when you are most likely to remember your dreams.

3. Drink a lot of water before you go to bed to ensure that you have to wake up at least once to go to the loo in the middle of the night.

4. Keep a pad and pencil next to your bed.

5. Try to wake up slowly to remain within the 'mood' of your last dream. I find that by doing this, then trying to fall asleep again straight away...it will take me back into the same dream.



Most dreams last anywhere from five to 20 minutes.

People don't only dream in black and white, as was once believed.

Even though they may not remember them, everyone dreams several times a night. In fact, during a typical lifetime, we spend about six years dreaming.

People who have been blind from birth have dreams that are formed from their other senses (e.g., touch, smell, sound).

When people are snoring, they're not dreaming.

Elephants (and some other animals) sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.


Kekule, the German chemist who discovered the structure of the benzene molecule, had worked endlessly to figure it out. Then, in a dream, he saw snakes forming circles with their tales in their mouths. When he awoke, he realised that the benzene molecule, unlike all other known organic compounds, had a circular structure rather than a linear one.

The inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, had struggled in 1884 to figure out how the needle could work in a machine for sewing. In a dream, he found himself surrounded by native tribesmen with spears that had a hole in the point. When he woke up,
he realized that a needle with a hole in the point would solve his problem.

Mary Shelly, author of "Frankenstein," got the idea for the story from a dream.

Edgar Allen Poe got inspiration from a dream featuring large luminous eyes for his story, "Lady Ligea."

Many musicians, including Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Beethoven, have found inspiration for their music from their dreams. Some hear musical arrangements in their dreams, while others hear lyrics.

Golfer Jack Nicklaus found a new way to hold his golf club in a dream, which he credits as significantly improving his golf game.



Being Naked In Public:

Most of us have had the dream at some point that we're at school, work or some social event, and we suddenly realise we forgot to put on clothes! Experts say this means we're trying to hide something (and without clothes we have a hard time doing that). We're not prepared for something, like a presentation or test (and now everyone is going to know - we're exposed!). If we're naked but no one notices, then the interpretation is that whatever we're afraid of is unfounded. If we don't care that we're naked, the interpretation is that we're comfortable with who we are.


You're falling, falling, falling... and then you wake up. This is a very common dream and is said to symbolise insecurities and anxiety. Something in your life is essentially out of control and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Another interpretation is that you have a sense of failure about something. Maybe you're not doing well in school or at work and are afraid you're going to be fired or expelled. Again, you feel that you can't control the situation.

Being Chased:

The ever-popular chase dream can be extremely frightening. What it usually symbolises is that you're running away from your problems. What that problem is depends on who is chasing you. It may be a problem at work, or it may be something about yourself that you know is destructive. For example, you may be drinking too much, and your dream may be telling you that your drinking is becoming a real problem.


Taking An Exam (Or Forgetting We Have One):

This is another very common dream. You suddenly realise you are supposed to be taking an exam at that very moment. You might be running through the hallways and can't find the classroom. This type of dream can have several variations that have similar meanings. (Maybe your pen won't write, so you can't finish writing your answers.) What experts say this may mean is that you're being scrutinised about something or feel you're being tested.. maybe you're facing a challenge you don't think you're up to. You don't feel prepared or able to hold up to the scrutiny. It may also mean there is something you've neglected that you know needs your attention.


Many flying dreams are the result of lucid dreaming. Not all flying dreams are, however. Typically, dreaming that you are flying means you are on top of things. You are in control of the things that matter to you. Or, maybe you've just gained a new perspective on things. It may also mean you are strong willed and feel like no one and nothing can defeat you. If you are having problems maintaining your flight, someone or something may be standing in the way of you having control. If you are afraid while flying, you may have challenges that you don't feel up to.

Running But Getting Nowhere:

This theme can also be part of the chasing dream. You're trying to run, but either your legs won't move or you simply aren't going anywhere...as if you were on a treadmill. According to some, this dream means you have too much on your plate. You're trying to do too many things at once and can't catch up or ever get ahead.

Your Teeth Falling Out:

Many people have dreams that they lose all of their teeth. In this dream, they may feel something strange in their mouth and then spit teeth into their hand, eventually losing all of their teeth. According to some, our teeth are related to our sense of power and our ability to communicate. Losing our teeth not only makes us embarrassed by our appearance, which hinders our communications, but it also lessens our power because we may not speak our minds. It's also associated with feelings about our appearance.








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The Owner Of This Site Takes No Responsibility To Treat Yourself Using
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This site is © Copyright of Lyn Rennick (Pebbles) 2006
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Here is a list of books which you may find interesting and beneficial to you. We hope you will enjoy them:


*   The Interpretation
Of Dreams



              by Sigmund Freud


    *    Memories, Dreams,


  by C.G. Jung
         Clara & Richard Winston

   *  The Hidden Meaning


 by Craig-Hamilton-Parker,
Lynne Milton & Steinar Lund

   The Dreamer's


 by Stearn Robinson
Tom Corbett

*     Dream Dictionary


 by Tony Crisp


     *     The Complete
       Dream Dictionary


 by Trish MacGregor
Rob MacGregor







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