Dream Mysteries Decoded

Did you know that it’s possible to control your dreams, use them to regulate your mood, and potentially wake up happier?

While Freud called dreams “the royal road to the unconscious,” the latest scientific thinking is that our nighttime reveries are a form of “psychological yoga” that’s vital to emotional well-being and health.

People who remember their dreams heal faster from depression after divorce, and even bad dreams have a beneficial function, by letting us diffuse negative emotions, according to researcher Rubin Naiman, PhD, author of Healing Night: the Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening.

Paying closer attention to your dreams could help you solve problems, fight your fears, and enhance your waking life and mood. Here’s a look at how to decode your dreams, plus surprising answers to 7 common questions.

10 Natural Ways to Sleep Better

Is Lucid Dreaming for Real?

Some people can learn to control their dreams. In one study, 20 volunteers were asked to toss dimes into a cup in the evening, then to attempt to carry out this task in a dream. Seven volunteers succeeded in having a lucid dream and were much better at coin tosses the next morning than those who were unable to practice in their dreams.

Intriguingly, playing videogames before bedtime may lead to lucid dreaming, studies suggest. Perhaps through focusing on virtual reality during their waking hours, avid gamers are more likely to actively influence or change their dream world, much like controlling the actions of a videogame avatar. Another surprise:  Gamers have fewer violent or frightening dreams than non-gamers.

Why Don’t You Remember Your Dreams?

Scientists estimate that we forget 95 percent—or more—of our dreams, mainly because they fade fast after we wake up. Up to 90 percent of their content is lost within 10 minutes.

To capture your dreams, write them down as soon as you wake. In studies comparing people who recall several dreams a month and those who don’t recall any, the main difference is that the people who recall believe that their dreams are worth remembering and make more effort to do so.

NEXT: What Triggers Nightmares? >>

 

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