“When you cease to dream, you cease to live,” – Malcolm Forbes
Do dreams mean anything? Alan Eiser, a psychologist and a clinical lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, says dreams can be “highly meaningful,” because they “deal with the sort of personal conflicts and emotional struggles that people are experiencing in their daily lives.”
This suggests that dreams have some very special significance in our life. These are a reflection of events that are about to unfold in near future. Can anything be better than this? Having dreams is an indication that you are having sound and worry-free sleep. But yes, if it is a concurrent phenomenon and you are over-dreaming, then it is a matter of worry.
As a first measure, you can avoid dwelling on dreams, as this can make them reoccur in the future, either in themes or emotional significance. Especially when they don’t have any special significance in your life. After waking up, try to distract yourself with work or other activities instead of ruminating on the dream.
The less you pay attention to them, the more likely they are to fade over time. The exception to this is a nightmare, as exploring its significance may prevent it from recurring. Maybe you can try jotting down notes about the nightmare after you wake up. It will help you express and recollect.
Indeed, all of us want sweet dreams, not nightmares, but nightmares are another harsh reality of sleep. But if you’re trying to overcome nightmares or just want to dream less, taking steps to avoid dreaming is possible. Relaxing or meditating before bed can encourage dreamless sleep. Adjusting your lifestyle and nighttime habits to get more restful sleep can also create a foundation for less vivid or distressing dreams.
Science hasn’t been able to fully explain the purpose of dreaming. It may be a way to help us process emotions and make sense of the world. That’s probably why even the most outlandish dreams contain snippets of reality.
You might remember a dream in intricate detail, as vivid as anything you’ve ever experienced. Or you might wake up with the faint hint of a dream that fades away before you can fully grasp it.
There’s a connection between the quality of sleep and dreaming. If you’re dealing with insomnia or sleep disruptions, you may be missing out on REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the stage where you’re most likely to dream.
Lack of quality sleep can make mental health disorders worse, and mental health disorders can exacerbate sleep problems.
This way we see that there is no concrete explanation for having or not having dreams. Dreaming is a natural phenomenon, rather usual core which we cannot avoid. But if it is bothering you too much, you are not having healthy sleep which is leading to stress and anxiety in the morning, you need certain tips like:
- Aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Exercise for 20–30 minutes per day but not right before going to bed.
- Avoid using caffeine and nicotine immediately before bed.
- Relax before bed, such as by taking a warm bath or reading.
Another tried and tested remedy is practising meditation to calm yourself into a dreamless sleep. Deep meditation can help your mind relax and, as you drift off, encourage a restful sleep without dreams. Try meditating while going to sleep to increase the likelihood of deep, relaxed sleep.
- Meditation involves focusing your mind on a word, thought, or feeling to induce a stronger feeling of awareness or calm.
- Body scan meditation in particular is useful for lulling yourself to sleep at night.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing to reduce stress, which can trigger nightmares.
Talk to your doctor about taking sleep medication if necessary. If you experience particularly vivid dreams, some medications can lower their intensity or frequency. Make a list of your dream symptoms and your medical history to discuss the best treatment plan with your doctor.
Let your doctor know about any medications you’re taking as well, as some can cause vivid or emotionally distressing dreams.
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