- Dreams are fascinating—we love to pick them apart and dissect what they might mean in relation to our lives.
- That said, science says dreams are just the way our brains clean out recent events and make room for future events.
- So, while our dreams don’t function to make us aware of internal conflicts, they can push us to deal with unresolved issues that are causing us harm.
- Additionally, there are some cool facts about dreaming that are worth acknowledging: For example, the faces that we see in our dreams are often faces we’ve seen in real life.
- Finally, there are some common themes that arise in our dreams—many of us dream about flying, falling, running late, and being naked in public.
- People pick apart these dreams, in specific, but science still holds that dreams are but a mere reflection of what’s been going on in our lives lately.
There’s a man chasing me through the woods. I hear him gaining on me with every step I take. Then suddenly, I hear nothing. The footsteps are gone. I decide to take a moment to catch my breath before carrying on… except, wait, where am I? And where am I going? Before I can think twice, the man is directly in front of me. I scream at the very top of my lungs. And when I open my eyes again, I’m tangled in my bedsheets—breathing heavily, sweating profusely.
Dreams are, in one word, fascinating. Some believe that dreams can tell the future, while others believe they are reflections of our biggest fears and troubles. We spend hours sorting through different possibilities, trying to make sense of the nightmare that jerked us awake or the recurring dream we’ve had for the last month. But, as it turns out, the functionality of dreams is much simpler than we think.
The Functionality of Dreams and Dreaming
Dreams are essentially the brain’s way of cleaning out the current day’s events and preparing for the next. They appear so real and meaningful because they represent the real world around us, as they are written from our consciousness. In order for our brains to be ready for the next day, current conflicts need to be dealt with. Still, these conflicts are not completely representative of our awake selves and are not designed to reveal any information about our awake selves. They can, however, urge someone to deal with an unresolved issue by bringing attention to it.
Separating Fact from Fiction
Clearly, there are a lot of misconceptions about dreams. What’s fact and what’s fiction? Let’s take a look. Here are a few facts about dreams:
- We experience heightened brain activity while we sleep, often resulting in dreams.
- The faces we see in our dreams usually belong to people we know or have seen before.
- Most people forget 90-95% of their dreams, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Dreams recharge our creative juices, while sleep recharges our bodies.
- Animals also have dreams, as they experience heightened brain activity in their sleep, too.
Pretty cool, huh? Dreaming is beneficial to our health and wellbeing. If you want to remember more of your dreams, try keeping a dream journal. This can help your brain work through those conflicts, which often serve as the basis for your dreams, as we mentioned earlier. Now, what about those misconceptions? Many falsely believe that: if we don’t remember our dreams, we didn’t have any, and dreams have no relation to our real lives. As you know, based on the facts above, these just aren’t true. First, we actually don’t remember a great majority of our dreams. Second, while dreams aren’t meant to reveal any deep insight, they are based on your day-to-day experiences.
Why Do We All Dream About Falling and Flying?
There are some common themes that appear in our dreams. So, of course, people have put some time into deciphering what these specific dreams could mean. Here’s a list of these commonly reported dreams and what people believe them to mean:
- Falling. Dreams of falling are some of the most commonly reported dreams. Some believe it symbolizes major problems either at work, in a relationship, or in another major area of life.
- Flying. If you dream about flying, it might be a sign that it’s time to let go and can be representative of a stressful, out-of-control situation in your life.
- Being naked in public. Many agree that when you dream about being naked in public, you’re feeling anxious or vulnerable. This may occur to individuals who recently made a major life transition, like moving to a new town or starting a new job.
- Getting chased. Remember the dream from earlier? Some say this dream could mean it’s time to face a problem that has been bothering the individual.
- Being pregnant. This dream is said to represent a problem. Some also say that this is representative of a new project or idea the person has.
- Running late. Many report having dreams about showing up late to an important event. These are said to symbolize that the individual has too much on his or her plate and needs to reevaluate his or her situation.
Some of these explanations seem to make a lot of sense—however, let’s reiterate the fact that, according to science, dreams are simply our brains’ way of clearing out our heads. We’re all human. We all experience the same emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, and fear (to name a few). And our lives are made up of the same building blocks: family, friends, love, and work. It only makes sense that we would dream about the same things—our brains are one and the same.