Fascination with our dreams traces all the way back to ancient Egyptians who claimed that those with vivid dreams were gifted with a sort of prophetic wisdom. Later in the 19th and 20th centuries, acclaimed philosophers started taking a different approach, associating our dreams with expressions of our unconscious minds.
Contrary to both of these theories lies the belief that our dreams are simply random. Many researchers believe that dreams may be an unintended consequence of the rapid neurological processes taking place in our brains as it registers our new memories. Perhaps dreams are nothing more than random expressions of emotions, sensations, and memories that occur while our brains are busy.
We aren’t sure exactly what our dreams mean, but something in us keeps driving us to search for the answer to explaining our dreams as some greater truth rather than accepting they’re meaningless. In fact, one study showed that 1 in 3 dreamers had claimed to have experienced a dream actually coming true after they had it.
So what’s it all mean? Let’s dig into what our dreams could be telling us by examining some common associations and patterns that have been found with our dreams.
Dreams about flying
Flying is a fairly common theme people experience while dreaming. Some find these dreams exciting while for others it’s more of a nightmare (especially for those with a fear of heights). To understand what a flying dream means for you, it’s important to realize your relationship with flying.
For example, if flying is one of those top superpowers you wish you could have, a dream about flying is likely a liberating escape. It could also relate to feelings of freedom, gathering independence, or a longing for a childlike state-of-mind. If you hate the idea of flying and heights, a dream about flying could depict a fear of losing control.
Dreams about falling
Dreams about falling are also fairly common, and it may be for a good reason. As we “fall” asleep, our body begins to slow down. As our blood pressure and heart rate slow down, it can trigger a feeling of falling that makes you want to jerk awake.
However, dreaming of falling could also have a more symbolic explanation. If you have dreams of falling, you may be subconsciously worried that your life is “going downhill.” It can also be associated with feelings of uncertainty as to if you’re following the right path in life and a fear of failure.
Dreams about teeth falling out
It seems that many people have experienced the gruesome dream of their teeth falling out. While this could be related to stress, regret related to what you’ve said, or feelings of rebirth, it could also be related back to issues of dental distress from grinding your teeth at night.
Dreams about being naked
Dreaming of nudity is likely not associated with a feeling of empowerment. If you have dreams where you are exposed in front of a group of people, it’s likely representing your fears of vulnerability. Are you starting a new job soon and nervous about meeting your new coworkers? Do you have a big speech coming up? Are you meeting your significant other’s family soon? These would all be likely reasons you’re dreaming about being naked.
Understanding practical causes for your dreams
You probably get it at this point. Your mood, hopes, and fears can all affect your dreams, but sometimes there’s a more practical cause for your dreams.
For example, people who experience anxiety and depression are likely to experience nightmares. Certain medications can also alter your sleep and dreams. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) report chronic, recurrent nightmares, likely associated with their induced trauma. Even the foods you eat before bedtime can have an effect on your sleep.
Certain sleep disorders could also be affecting your dreams. If you have sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, your sleep quality will likely be interrupted several times throughout the night, affecting your patterns of deep REM sleep and how often you’re falling in and out of dreams. So your dreams may, in fact, be telling you something important: Your sleep is suffering. When this is the case, find ways to fix the problem so you can protect your health.
Tips for lowering stress and getting better sleep
If you experience high levels of stress or have trouble getting sleep at night, your dreams may be acting up and causing you concern. Follow these tips to lower your stress and get quality sleep each night:
Start a wind-down routine. A few hours before bed each night start winding down by turning away from technology, taking a warm bath, stretching, reading a book, or any other activities that calm your mind and body.
Try natural remedies for sleep. Herbal tea, essential oils, and supplements like melatonin are all natural methods that can help you sleep better.
Set up a better environment. Make sure your bedroom is conducive of good sleep by having the best bed for your needs picked out, lowering the temperature, and blocking out any disruptive lights or sounds.
You shouldn’t take your dreams too seriously, but if anything is concerning you it’s never a bad idea to go have a chat with your doctor to try to deduce the cause and work towards a solution.