Dreams inspired Bohr’s structure of an atom, Mendeleev’s periodic table, Kekule’s structure of Benzene, Watson’s double helix model of DNA, and many other groundbreaking scientific discoveries.
What if you are the next person to change the course of science just by your dreams?
All of us have been experiencing vivid dreams; whether it be dreams of flying or falling from a height, whether it be dreams of going a date with your crush or ideas that terrify you, whether it be known in the dream that you are dreaming (Lucid Dreaming) or dreams that end being real, we have gone through all of this.
There are many aspects to explain dreams based on philosophy, religion, cultural beliefs, psychology, evolutionary and physiology. We will apply the latter three aspects to the interpretation of your dream.
Earlier Interpretation of Dreams
According to Dr Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist mentions in his book “The Interpretation of a dream” that dreams are how a person tries to fulfil inner thoughts, desires and subconscious feelings, that is “Wish Fulfillment.”
In a nutshell, according to his hypothesis, you dream about what you want to happen!
For example, if you have been thinking a lot about your crush chances are there that your crush might appear in your dream!
This theory was widely accepted at first later it was proven wrong by other psychologists like Carl Jung and Calvin S Hall.
Dreams: Hall’s Interpretation
This was an out of box approach of interpretation of the dream. In 1953, Hall argued that dreaming is a cognitive process and has more meanings than what we see.
For example, if you see that your friends are attacking you in your dream, that means you have a fear of friendship.
Later psychologists such as Ann Faraday and her team, Wallace Clift, Jean Dalby Clift and many other psychologists even today are researching on the common dreams that we see and their possible interpretation.
This paved the foundation for research on dreams including subjects like Evolutionary Biology, Neurobiology and Physiology. The earlier dream as though of some supernatural or psychic power, now although several theories have been proposed lately on why we dream what we dream.
Here are some interpretation of some common dreams we see
· Falling from a height
Psychologists interpret that when you see falling from a height into darkness, or you just keep on falling down into nowhere, very deep, that means you are pretty much overwhelmed or out of control, added with feelings of insecurity and lack of support.
Evolutionary biologists interpret; differently, they argue that our ancestors those who lived on trees were more successful than in lands, so those sleeping on trees dreamt of falling down from trees and getting attacked by predators so that our ancestors could prepare fighting or running away from predators; therefore we have this dream which is basically to prepare ourselves for the facing danger.
· Being chased by someone and nightmares
From psychologists point of view being chased by someone mean that whether the person or the monster chasing you is a form of your own fears, addiction or desires
For example, some psychologists argue that if you dream about animal chasing you, it could mean that you are hiding your own passion, anger or other feelings.
If you have someone of opposite sex chasing you, it could mean that you are afraid of relationships or love.
Evolutionary biologists argue that these dreams are the way our body prepares itself to fight any dangers, our ancestors were successful in this and had similar dreams that we are experiencing now, this makes us among the “survival of the fittest.”
Psychiatry has a different view; some of these frightening dreams could be a manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatrist should, however, confirm this.
· Being Naked in Public
Most of the psychologists say that this could mean that you are afraid of embarrassment, revealing your imperfections or feeling very vulnerable, perhaps you wanted someone to admire you in this case.
Other psychologists argue that this means you are pretty much open to everyone and you have nothing to hide.
· Dreams about writing examinations
Most of us have face this after we pull off a late-night study, of the few hours we sleep we might have dreamt of question paper or actually taking a test.
Psychologists say this could mean fear of failure you have before the exam.
You can also correlate with the evolutionary perspective of being prepared to face the danger.
There are two different opinions among psychologists, one school of thought says this could mean independence and freedom; others believe this is an indication that a person wants freedom and independence.
· Losing your sound in a dream
Neurobiologists and physiologists can soundly experience this; this is due to hypotonia (decreases muscle tone) of muscle that occurs in the REM phase of sleep or to put it simply paralysis of muscle takes place during the REM phase of your sleep, so that means most of the muscles in your body are completely paralyzed for some time.
Also, REM phase is when you actually dream. This paralysis (or hypotonia) is necessary; otherwise, you might end up acting out your dream!
Do we Remember what we dream?
Most of the dreams are interpreted by psychologists and evolutionary biologists which are pretty much accepted by many, however, neurobiologists and physiologists have a completely different approach to dream.
One of the many theories that describe why we dream is called “Information Processing Theory”, which in a nutshell says that dreams are accidental phenomena we see when our brain is actually converting short term memory into long term memory.
This usually happens during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep, where EEG, i.e. the electrical activity of brain shows beta waves, which is a paradox because beta waves are recorded when we are active and awake. That’s also the reason REM sleep also called paradoxical sleep.
That’s why most of the dreams that we see, are usually jumbled up and we don’t remember or recall it unless we directly wake up from REM phase of sleep.
Thus REM sleep is essential for memory, cognition and mental well being. And if you are dreaming that could indicate that you are pretty much healthy!
Can you interpret your dream?
Well, it depends on you, as you may have read common dreams that we share as humans have many interpretations, if you are in control of your thoughts and emotions, which is very rare, you may be able to interpret your dream.
Some people dream about Gods, Angels, Prophets, demons, dream about something that will happen in future, these dreams can’t be interpreted by science, it may be coincidence or psychic or actual spiritual dream.
Some have even dreamt about scientific discoveries, plots for movies or books, lyrics for songs which also cannot be properly explained.
So interpreting every dream is still a dream for many who study Oneirology, the study of dreams.
Well, there is some other meaning of dreams too as our Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said: “Dreams are not the one that let you sleep, dreams are the one that doesn’t let you sleep.”
So in the end, keep dreaming, either your dream can lead to changes in the way we live or follow your dream so that can lead to changes in the way we live.