Often our dreams are grounded in reality, and can be directly linked to past experiences, future plans or the events of the day. But what about those dreams that morph into something entirely different and random, which seemingly have no relevance to our lives? Do these dreams actually mean something, or are they simply the result of our minds running wild while we sleep?
As might be expected, the meaning and purpose of dreams is widely debated. Most people attribute some level of significance to our dreams, and psychotherapists theorize that our dreams give us insight into feelings and internal struggles that we may not be aware of during our waking hours.
Sigmund Freud, of course, thought that all dreams were related to sexual desire. Others have said that dreams may relate to emotional “unfinished business.” Researchers have also found that our dreams can be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as our sleep position, whether we watched a black and white film before going to bed or even consuming cheese.
While the precise meaning behind our dreams is still being explored, researchers have attempted to translate the following common types of dreams. These, of course, are also open to interpretation.
Dreams of Being Chased
These dreams are some of the most common (or at least most commonly remembered due to the anxiety they provoke). Researchers believe these dreams relate to a failure to address something that requires our attention.
Dreams of Flying
Flying dreams are generally thought of as “happy” dreams, and are often accompanied by feelings of euphoria. One theory is that flying dreams relate to the amount of control we have in our lives and our level of confidence. Soaring feels great while flying low, close to the ground, can signal frustration. It’s not clear what emotions are behind “skimming the ground” but dodging obstacles and finally gaining altitude.
Unlike flying dreams, falling dreams are often a little scary, and are thought to arise from feelings of being out of control. However some people say their dreams of falling are slow and peaceful, and feel like an act of letting go.
Nudity in Our Dreams
Many of us have had dreams where we find ourselves naked in front of a classroom or meeting. Vulnerability is one theory behind these dreams, and what’s exposed can be telling.
Dreams involving water are thought to symbolize our emotions or our unconscious minds, with the water quality (i.e., is it clear, murky, calm, etc.) representing our emotional state.
People often claim that you cannot die in your dreams, or that you will wake up right beforehand. While this may or may not be true, researchers believe death dreams relate to dramatic changes that are taking place in a dreamer’s life.
Some people claim that having sex dreams is a sign you have a very active sex life. Or an unsatisfying one. Or any number of things in between. Perhaps the only consensus regarding these types of dreams is that they are very common. Interestingly, research has shown that sleeping prone, or on your stomach, can induce sexual dreams.
Paralysis in Dreams
Sleep paralysis is an actual physical experience that a significant number of people have or will experience during their lives, and is believed to be the result of difficulty transitioning between different sleep stages. While dreams about paralysis may be in response to this condition, they may also signify a lack of control in the dreamer’s life.