What our dreams are saying

Were you aware that odor can affect the quality of our dreams? If you smell something lovely rather than something that is foul, we will dream better. This theory has been tested in a study where people were in a room that smelled of roses and had more good dreams. Those unlucky ones were in a room that reeked of rotten eggs and had more bad dreams. This might be because of a connection between the sense of smell and parts of the brain linked to dreaming.

When we dream it may help our brain to store memories. Some researchers believe that dreams are a quirk of sleep, but others believe they help us save memories, solve problems and manage emotions.

If you take certain medications like antidepressants, narcotics and sleeping aids such as Ambien, they can affect the central nervous system and cause bad dreams. According to sleep studies, women tend to report having more scary dreams than men. Perhaps women are just better at recalling their dreams than men or maybe they just have more nightmares period.

You cannot tell what your dreams mean. Our dreams can be straightforward, telling us how we feel about someone or maybe reflect how stressed we are. Others are trickier than this, so there is no one-size-fits all for dreams. We all have to ask ourselves what the dream means to us. Neither can we always remember our dreams, but we can get better at remembering them. We can try keeping a journal where we record the dream as soon as we wake up. If we don’t remember it, we might recall it later on, just out of the blue.

I found it surprising that those from different cultures actually have different dreams than those in our culture. Those from similar cultures usually have similar dreams, even though there are some variations. We all dream even if we don’t remember it. Usually these dreams fade by morning, so it’s very common not to recall them.

Those who have been blind since birth do not have visual dreams, according to studies conducted. If they go blind early in childhood, they are unlikely to have much visual imagery in their dreams, but going blind in later childhood or as adults, will dream visually.

When we snooze we cycle between two basic states: REM, which is rapid eye movement, and non-REM sleep. We can dream during both of these states, but sleep studies show that people have more brain activity and more vivid dreams during REM periods.

Don’t you just hate it when we are having a beautiful and wonderful dream and wake before it ends? But of course, then we can’t even remember what it was and only end up with the warm and fuzzy feeling upon waking, and knowing it was something great that we’d like to hold on to.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

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