We all dream every night. Some people don’t remember dreaming and would swear that they never dream. But dreaming is essential for sorting out and releasing the emotional buildup from our day so we can start the new day with a clean slate. If you stop people from dreaming, they become disturbed, confused and can start hallucinating.
On the other end of the scale, there are people that dream too much. This often happens to those that are depressed. Our brains aren’t very good at telling the difference between a real situation and an imagined one. So hours of thinking about stressful situations before bedtime creates a huge negative emotional charge which requires huge amounts of dreaming to discharge.
So dreams are a very important part of us and affect our lives whether we remember them or not. And by tapping into them, we can explore and work through issues before they have even come to light. One of the great benefits of dreams is that they can show us what we are thinking about or are concerned with in our lives, often at a subconscious level.
Most people actually dream about one hundred minutes per night-about as long as any film you might see at a movie theater or on television. Most of us are lucky to recall even a few minutes of the previous night’s dreams and many people routinely wake up with no recall at all of dreaming.
According to Dr. Alan Hobson’s work at Harvard University, that memory for dreams is affected by the presence or absence of various neurotransmitters in our brains. The evidence is clear that some people have much better dream recall than others. The answer to this difference most likely lies in the balance of these different chemicals.
Most people remember dreams, or at least remember dreaming, when they awaken in the morning. The reason for this is because the vast majority of dreaming occurs in the last third of sleep. But if you have little or no dream recall, here are a few tips that could help:
Learn how to “wake up slowly.” When you first wake up in the morning, lay quietly in bed and don’t immediately start thinking and worrying about the day ahead. Try to concentrate your mind on whatever it was that you were just dreaming about – even if at first you can’t remember dreaming about anything. This recall process is half intellectual, half emotional. We want to think about what it was we just were dreaming of, but we also want to feel what it was that we were dreaming about.
Often, if we can identify our emotional state, we can work backwards from there, remembering fragments of the dream until something jogs our memory and suddenly we may remember a lot more of the dream.
Many dreamers who practice this “slow awakening” technique say that it is important to lay still as they are waking up. Moving their bodies distracts their mind from being able to recall the last dream.
Here is something else you can try. Set your alarm for about thirty to forty minutes earlier than normal and hit the snooze button every ten minutes until it is really time to get up. Since we dream most heavily in the morning, chances are very good that each time the alarm sounds, it will wake you out of a dream. Now practice the dream recall technique we just discussed above. Hit the snooze button, lay still in bed, and work back in your mind to what you were just dreaming about. Feel your feelings, feel your emotions, and hold on to whatever snippets of the dream you can. Try to gather more bits of events and activity, until you have at least an outline of the dream.
Sleeping with a dream pillow is a great way to improve your dream recalling abilities. Mugwort is an herb used in dream pillows that is known to make dreams more intense and vivid so that the chances of remembering the dream is much greater. It’s My Nature’s dream pillow is quite effective for this. However, we always recommend that those prone to nightmares not use a dream pillow and we do not recommend it for children.
Once you begin remembering your dreams, you might want to keep a dream journal and record them. In dream recall, every detail is important. A general rule would be to make a point of recalling colors, shapes, gender, water, weather and movement. These points can reveal a great deal about the overall state of your life. Dreams can reflect tensions that exist inside of us. Recalling and analyzing our dreams can go a long way in helping us to ease some of the stress in our lives. If we just listen, our dreams can show us the way!
Authors Details: Susan Stewart