Author of Inside Your Dreams, Rose Inserra, gets down to the nitty gritty details we all want to know about dreaming.
Most of the time when you hear someone talking about a dream they’ve had it’ll start off with, ‘I had the weirdest dream last night.’
Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, dream researcher and author of Inside Your Dreams, Rose Inserra says that this is because our dreams are effectively a dumping ground for all the unprocessed emotions felt throughout the day.
“We actually sleep for twenty five years and we dream for six years. That’s a long time to be dreaming,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode What do your dreams REALLY mean.
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“Why do we do it? Because there’s simply too much going on in our conscious minds during the day. Lots of repressed emotions, lots of anxieties, fears, thoughts, plans. They’ve got to go somewhere, and they usually go to our subconscious mind in our deepest sleep, which is called REM sleep.”
This REM stage (or rapid eye movement) is the point in our sleep where we dream, process the stressors of the day and undertake problem solving. Inserra says that whenever she has a big contract to sign or decision to make, she sleeps on it.
It might sound like an ‘old wives tale’, but Inserra says it’s a wise move in order to open up your mind to great thoughts and process what’s occurring in your personal emotional landscape.
If your dreams are constantly weird, quite disconnected and rather bizarre, don’t worry – that’s completely normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is crazy.
“It’s mish-mashed because the subconscious mind and dreaming mind is always in images. It’s not logic. You’d never take a dream literally because you’d be in trouble if you did,” Inserra explains.
“It’s really about what emotions come up for you during that dream. That’s really all you’ve got to focus on. Forget about what actually happens in your dream. What’s the emotion that’s come up for you and how does that relate to your everyday emotions? How might you be feeling in your everyday life?”
She uses the example of a partner who might feel unsupported in the household. They might have a dream that they’re on a plane, flying through the air and then the doors are open and before they knows it they’re falling through the sky.
That fearful, anxious feeling of being unsupported is what the brain is trying to process.
“Don’t be so scared of those weird, crazy dreams,” Inserra adds.
Finally – why do we only remember a portion of our dreams?
Well, Inserra says we forget around 80% of our dreams within the first fifteen minutes of waking up, so it’s completely natural to forget them often. The ones that do stick tend to hold more emotion.
“It’s that emotional intensity. If a dream has really got your interest, that means your emotions are involved. It won’t let you forget it, because your psyche is saying, listen, you’ve really got to pay attention to this. So I’m going to make it so scary or so weird for you that you’re going to remember that emotion,” she explains.
If your dreams have been getting weirder, or stronger during COVID that is also something that many people are experiencing.
“We’re living so stressfully that, of course, when we go into a dream state, it’s going to reflect a lot of those stressors, because as I said earlier, it’s a dumping ground of all the stresses that we feel and our anxieties,” she says.
Likewise, if you watch an intense or scary show before bed that can appear in your dreams because your brain is trying to process those emotions.
For more information about common dreams and what they mean check out Rose on the Extra Healthy-ish podcast. You can find out more about Rose’s book, Inside Your Dreams (Rockpool, $29.99), here.