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