Since dreams have been established as being part of the human condition – or rather, the mammal condition – there are certain dreams that are far more common than others. Sometimes based on culture or location, there are certain thematic dreams that seem to translate from society to society. These dreams are popular for dream interpreters and spiritualists to dissect and search for meaning.
According to psychology, there are five types of dreams. These dreams include ordinary dreams, lucid dreams, day dreams, false awakening dreams and nightmares. You can experience different types of dreams during the same resting period as they may easily blend in with each other.
Dreams have provoked curious thought and philosophical exploration for centuries. In Ancient Greece, dreams were messages from the gods delivered by the god Morpheus. The god of dreams could take human form and appear in the dreams of the common man. Greek temples called Asclepieions provided a refuge for the sick, where they could be cured through the dreams visited upon them.
Sigmund Freud explored dreams as a part of his research into the human psyche. He believed that dreams were the mind’s way of processing information, suppressed memories, thoughts and feelings that the conscious mind is not ready to accept. Assigning meaning to dreams is explored through psychology, dream interpretation and self-help.
Ordinary dreams occur during rapid eye movement, one of the five stages of sleep. During this type of dream, thoughts trigger dreams. Your mind stores knowledge, impressions, information and experiences from the day. Casual thoughts that are being stored into long term memory can shift into dreams where the person dreams about riding a horse, running in a field or delivering a speech naked. These dreams may lack any real story or straight interpretation, but cascade as images. A person may average three to five dreams per night. It’s not uncommon to forget a dream the next morning or to find the memory fleeting upon waking.
In lucid or “conscious” dreams, you are aware that you are dreaming.A common form of this is to be giving a speech naked in front of your peers and then to realize you’re dreaming. A lucid dream is similar to ordinary dreams, except that you are aware of yourself beyond the subconscious.You can use lucid dreams to explore possibilities and “what ifs”. If you’re really worried about a conversation or an interaction, you can act it out during a lucid dream. Lucidity may also help you bolt out of a bad dream by allowing you to realize it for what it is.Such dreams have been the subject of much research. In these dreams the sleeper is actually aware that they are in a dream state. The dream is so vivid it seems real, although events and characters will often be greatly exaggerated. Due to the sleeper being aware of dreaming he or she will often manipulate the outcomes. As such, it is thought these are not messages of deep symbolic value.
Daydreams and False Awakening Dreams
Daydreams happen when you’re awake. You may be sitting in a class, in a meeting or in the car. You stare off and tuning out the world around you. Daydreams are a way to let your imagination wander. Daydreams occur during a waking state, but you feel drowsy and relaxed during them. A daydream may also be triggered during meditation.False awakening dreams are different in that you dream you are awake. These types of dreams may occur when a child wets the bed. They dream they are up and going into the bathroom. When they wake later, they are surprised by what happened because they “remember” going to the bathroom. False awakening dreams may lead you to dreaming you are playing a game all night, working or going to school. When you actually wake up, you don’t feel rested because you feel like you were awake all night.
Nightmares are a disturbing type of dream. In nightmares, you experience terror, fear, sadness and anger. Nightmares reflect frightful events similar to those experienced in thrillers and horror movies. A person may have a nightmare when they are worried or deeply stressed. For parents, nightmares may include dreams of their children being hurt or injured; for an athlete it may be losing the game and for victims of trauma, it may be dreaming the trauma is occurring again. Nightmares can evoke emotional terror by forcing a person to face unsolved problems or fears. These are the most emotionally draining of all dreams. They represent major issues in our waking lives that the subconscious drives the sleeper to acknowledge through fear. A great portion of people however ignore the cues and engage in the terror. It must be remembered that all dreams, even nightmares, are designed by the subconscious to help us.
Dreams may be indicators of issues or feelings that you need to cope with, but in the paraphrased words of Sigmund Freud, a dream may be just a dream.
Chase Dreams: Chase dreams are one of several common dream themes, stemming from feelings of anxiety in your waking life. Flight is an instinctive response to a physical threat in the environment. In these dreams, the scenario features you being pursued by an attacker, an animal, a monster or an unknown figure, who wants to hurt or possibly kill you. Consequently, you run, you hide or you try to outwit your pursuer.
Test/Exam Dreams: To dream that you are taking an exam indicates that you are being put to the test or being scrutinized in some way. Such dreams highlight your feelings of being anxious and agitated. You may find that you cannot answer any of the questions on the test or that the test is in some foreign language. Is time running out and you find that you cannot complete the exam in the allowed time? Or are you late to the exam, or did you forget about it entirely? Does your pencil keep breaking during the exam? Such factors contribute to you failing this test. You might have been out of school for years, and still dream about missing exams. It can be very disorienting.
Falling Dreams: Falling dreams are another theme that is quite common in the world of dreams. Contrary to a popular myth, you will not actually die if you do not wake up before your hit the ground during a fall…but could you imagine the news story that would play if you did? “Individual dead…we don’t know why. I think he fell in his dream.”
According to Freudian theory, dreams of falling indicate that you are contemplating giving into a sexual urge or impulse. You may not be as discrete as you should be.
Flying Dreams: My personal favorite, flying dreams. Many dreamers describe the ability to fly in their dreams as an exhilarating, joyful, and liberating experience. Flying dreams often fall under a category of dreams known as lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams occur when you become aware that you are dreaming, and are able to control the setting and plot of your dreams. Flying is often the first thing people attempt in these dreams; and be honest, you’d do it too.
Naked Dreams: So it’s a normal day…you’re going to work, waiting for the bus, or just walking down the street when you suddenly realize that you are stark naked. Sometimes you make it all the way to school or work and then are reminded that you’re naked. Dreaming that you are completely or partially naked is very common. Nudity symbolizes a variety of things depending on your real life situation.
Teeth Dreams: An incredibly common dream, dreams of your teeth falling out or breaking can be shocking. The typical dream scenarios include having your teeth crumble in your hands, fall out one by one with just a light tap, grow crooked or rot. Such dreams are not only horrifying and shocking, but they often leave you with a lasting image of the dream.
Snake Dreams: Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Snakes are a very common dream symbol, usually meaning evil, temptation, or sexuality. To see a snake or be bitten by one in your dream signifies hidden fears and worries that are threatening you. Your dream may be alerting you to something in your waking life that you are not aware of or that has not yet surfaced.
Car Dreams: The great modern symbol of power, status, vitality, sexuality. Automobile dreams are very common and have many meanings in dream analysis. It depends on factors like who is driving? Is it a pleasant journey or a treacherous one? Is the car an old clunker or a luxurious new car? Beginning a drive in an automobile generally means that you are in the beginning stages of a new life-plan. Where the car takes you metaphorically shows you where your life should be going. If your car breaks down, you could be placing your trust in someone not worth it.
Psychological Healing Dreams– Although these dreams can be disturbing, they differ from nightmares in that they represent situations from the conscious past and daily living. These dreams will often occur at times of stress or when important decisions arise. These dreams are not negative as they help heal and overcome negative emotions.
Belief Dreams– Dreams have played a part in shaping religions and belief systems across the planet. From Jacob’s dreams of angels in the Bible, to Mohammed’s dream inspiring his spiritual mission in the Quran, to the “dreaming” of the Australian Aboriginals. Subsequently, dream interpretation and analysis has been an ingrained component of human kind.
Problem-Solving Dreams– These dreams are designed to impart a message to the sleeper that will aid them in overcoming a problem in their conscious life. It is said that very often such messages are delivered by a messenger whose identity is of utmost importance in discerning the message.
Physiological Dreams– Some dreams are said to be direct reflections of our needs in the conscious world. For example, a dream where the sleeper is shivering in the snow may simply mean an extra blanket is required.
Dreams of Daily Life– Dreams that incorporate familiar faces and places do not necessarily reveal hidden symbolic messages from the subconscious. They are simply reflections of everyday life. These types of dreams can incorporate activities going on whilst we sleep. For example, a phone ringing may initiate a dream about communicating with a family member.
Compensatory Dreams– Some dreams reveal the “dark side” of our personality. This does not infer evil; it refers to what Jung described as the shadow-self. The parts of ourselves we repress. An example might be a Nun who dreams she is promiscuous. Such dreams are designed to balance our personality and give vent to emotions we would not usually seek to experience.
Recurring Dreams– Repeating dreams are signs that we are not paying attention to the message given. As such, ignoring the messages can lead to unresolved issues in our waking lives. The intent of the subconscious in these instances is to find a dream which impacts upon the dreamer in the most beneficial way. The subconscious may have tried numerous other attempts before implementing the dream that will be repeated. The subconscious does this because it believes it has found a means to “break through”, thus, repetition is used.
Psychic Dreams– Some consider there to be no such thing as psychic, including Prophetic Dreams. These are explained away as merely the subconscious absorbing information from the conscious world and making assumptions about likely behavior. When these behaviors are played out at a later date the conscious individual perceives they have predicted the future in a dream. However, this does not account for incidents where premonitions of unforeseen natural disasters and death have taken place.