The fascinating, wonky theories behind our most common dreams

Since humans have been able to communicate, we’ve been stumped by our dreams. The wacky wonderment of dreams has been explored in art, music, plays, television, and movies of all kinds. 

There’s been plenty of research into dreaming, too – but scientists are still stumped about the true purpose of dreaming (if there is one). We’re not totally sure why we dream, or if dreams have any meaning at all. Psychologists from Freud to William Domhoff have studied dreams and dream content, coming up with varying lenses through which to interpret dreams (if you interpret them at all – Domhoff posits that dreaming “is best viewed as an accidental by-product” of the brain’s natural function). 

While interpreting dreams is nowhere near an exact science, it can still be helpful as an introspective exercise, especially if those dreams are recurring. Sleep Foundation says that “adults who experience frequent recurring dreams tend to have worse psychological health than those who do not, and many experts theorize that these dreams may be a way to work through unmet needs or process trauma.” So examining your dreams might be in your own best interest!

In order to interpret your dreams, however, you need to first REMEMBER your dreams. The memory of your dreams can evaporate in a second if you’re unprepared. Sleep Foundation suggests these tips if you want to start recording your dreams to examine them later:

  • Think about your dreams as soon as you wake up – don’t even roll over to kiss your partner; just close your eyes and try to replay the dream in your head. The longer you can hold onto that dream in your thoughts, the better chance you’ll have of remembering the dream long enough to write it down or tell it to someone else. 
  • Keep a dream journal – pen and paper at your bedside works just fine, but plenty of dream journal apps like Dreams or Somnio do the trick as well. Some can even help you interpret dreams, or help you organize your dreams by content or date. 
  • Try to wake up peacefully – quick wake-ups, like from alarms, can make it harder to remember your dream’s details. 

Once you remember your dreams, try to also evaluate your own belief systems and how they might influence your dreams. Sometimes religious beliefs, cultural understandings, or relationships will influence the way you interpret your dreams. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – who you are, as a person, can influence the course of your dreams and so it can also inform your interpretation. But it’s important to try not to cherry-pick your dreams for information that confirms your current beliefs or desires.

Without further ado, here is one common dream theme and some ideas to contemplate:

Falling

Psych Central reports that falling dreams can “reflect feelings of fear, anxiety, or betrayal… feeling out of control, feeling unsupported, fearing taking a risk.”

Questions to ask if you have falling dreams, especially repeatedly, could be: is there something that I’m worried about? Is there a risk in my life that I want – or don’t want – to take? Is there a place in my life where I feel like I have no control? 

If there are any immediate, strong answers to these questions (a new job, a risky opportunity, trouble with a relationship), then it may be beneficial to dive more deeply into your feelings about that topic by journaling, consulting a therapist, or talking more about it to a trusted friend or family member. 

Sleep Foundation also reports that “falling is a common sensation people experience before a hypnic jerk. Hypnic jerks are involuntary lurches that can involve a part of the body or the body as a whole.”

More dreams to come

Check back in next month as we cover what it could mean if your teeth are falling out in your dream! Until then, be sure to enjoy the rest you can with a Wolf mattress!