Falling, flying, fleeing – they’re familiar dream motifs, but what do they mean? Psychologist Ian Wallace reveals all about your dreams.
We have about five dream episodes per night. If you sleep for seven or eight hours you go through five sleep cycles, and in each of those sleep cycles you will dream for between 20 and 40 minutes. There are lots of theories about why we dream, but I believe that we do it as a method to understand all the information we unconsciously absorb during the day
Remember, remember The more we consciously remember our dreams, the easier it is to realise what they mean. When you turn the light off, say to yourself, ‘Tonight I will remember some of my dreams.’ When you wake up, as soon as you start to move you shift out of any dream state. Within five minutes 50 per cent of your recall will be gone, and within 10 minutes 100 per cent. Try and lie still for a minute. You will be amazed at all the imagery that starts coming back
The top five The most common dream is being chased, which means there is some issue you want to confront but lack the confidence to do so. The second, your teeth falling out, means you are experiencing self-doubt. The third is being unable to find a loo, which means you are always trying to look after the needs of others rather than yourself. Being naked in public means you are feeling vulnerable. And feeling unprepared for an exam is judging yourself too much
And the rest If you dream you are flying, you are freeing yourself from something holding you back. If you are falling, you need to relax and let go. Other common dreams are being behind the wheel of an out-of-control vehicle and being late (you feel you can’t fulfil an ambition and are missing opportunities); and finding an unused room in your house (an undiscovered talent)
Write down your thoughts A dream log is a lovely thing to do and it doesn’t have to be massively detailed. All you have to do is jot down the main points of your dream. Even though each dream might seem very different, it will allow you to see patterns and give them context
You are in control Lucid dreaming is when you become conscious in your dream. As you are waking, tell yourself to stay in the dream for a while longer. Gradually you can begin to influence the dream. If you are being chased, you can change it so that you turn around and ask your pursuer what they want. This will help you realise what is troubling you in waking life
Not all bad A nightmare is a dream that has a higher emotional intensity and occurs when there are issues you are not dealing with. Your unconscious tries to get your attention by making your nightmare more vivid until you start attending to the issue. They are actually very healthy