This week some of my dreams have included the following storylines:
I was working with Pharrell Williams at his new almond milk factory.
I went to a museum which created wax moulds of past American presidents. They make two moulds as they were when they died. One was left to age as if they were alive and the second was given plastic surgery so it stayed young forever. Meghan Markle wanted to have one done and I saw her walking out of the museum with her head in hand.
A crazed young woman was trying to kill all my ex-boyfriends’ mums. I had to convince her that just because their sons weren’t the best, it wasn’t the fault of their mums and to not kill anyone.
I borrowed my sister-in-law’s bike and her seat was twisted sideways so I had to balance peddling with my bottom facing to the left of the bike.
I usually have pretty whacked-out dreams, but in the last few weeks, they’ve been even weirder.
I decided to reach out to Rachel Tomlinson, a registered psychologist from Toward Wellbeing and my go-to with all mental health-related queries.
I was lucky enough to ask her some questions to help educate me about dreams and why they way be a little stranger at the moment
What exactly is dreaming and why do we do it?
A dream is a series of images, sensations, and/or emotions which occur when we sleep. Dreams occur most often during REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep where brain waves are most similar to that of when we are awake. We are more likely remember dreams if we are woken during REM sleep. There have been many interpretations and studies around the purpose of dreams, including; processing events or other occurrences during our day, the random firing of neutrons during active sleep resulting in different and random images or memories being shown, subconscious processing of fears or impulses. Despite these different theories the science is still inconclusive and the jury is out on what the function of dreaming
Can you explain why our dreams would be more vivid than normal?
Whilst we cannot say for certain why dreams occur we do know that we are more likely to remember dreams if we awake during REM sleep. It’s entirely possible that due to changes in our routine, eating and exercise habits, stress, anxiety or mood (which are all known to impact on sleep quality) that our sleeping habits are effected. If we are waking more often or experiencing disturbed sleep we might be waking during REM sleep and more likely to remember our dreams in more detail.
Are our dreams sending us a message or is it just a combination of random information we’re taking in?
Well that’s an interesting one…. I can’t say for sure because we simply don’t know what dreams really mean. But if you tell me about the dream I could explore with you how it makes you feel and the significance for you? Or I could talk about how a psych might support someone impacted by a particular dream, finding meaning (and coping for an individual person).
Individual experience will impact on the significance of a dream, and things like dream dictionaries whilst not based on science can help a person feel a sense of control over the uncontrollable (subconscious dreaming) and helping them make meaning at confusing times.
If dreams are scaring people, should they seek help from a professional such as yourself?
Yes, if your daily functioning is impacted by by sleep quality (insomnia, frequent waking etc) or your dreams are worrying you then it’s important to seek help. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can have significant impacts on daily wellbeing, mental alertness and physical health… so it’s important to seek help if you are being impacted. There are a couple of simple tips to support better quality sleep, like following sleep hygiene activities, reducing screen time directly before bed, exercising during the day, meditation or mindfulness before bed and reducing caffeine intake in the hours before bed time. These strategies should not replace advice from a trusted professional who knows you and has explored your concerns, but may give some ideas to help promote a better nights rest.
And finally, can people zoom you for a consultation?
I am happy to be contacted via my website for any consultation requests. www.towardwellbeing.com
Whilst we’re hopefully seeing the other side of lockdown in the coming weeks, if you’re still struggling with it all, or just not feeling right, lock in an appointment with Rachel to have chat.