Why You’re Suddenly Having Vivid Dreams

Whether we can put it down to the pandemic or not, the fact is Google searches for ‘weird dreams’ have doubled since this time last year, with a recent study revealing a 160% increase in the number of Brits having nightmares. To find out what our dreams mean, and what you can do to make your sleep more peaceful, we went straight to the experts…

You Dream Every Night

“Dreams are altered states of consciousness that we go into around six times throughout the night usually during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. While we dream, we experience fleeting images, thoughts, ideas, sensations, stories, feelings and emotion and all of this creates an illusion of actually being in the world represented in the dream. Some dreams are mere processing of what has happened in your day and don't mean much at all – these dreams are the brain's process of packing away the information of the day and consolidating memory and filing systems. Others can be more meaningful and symbolic.” – Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, physiologist and sleep therapist

Working With Them Is Key

“Dreams often force us to pay attention to emotional and psychological issues we are neglecting; it’s always worth paying attention to them. When we dream, we are thinking in a special, looser, more creative way than we are in daytime life; we are making connections we might otherwise censor, and coming up with unexpected ideas and solutions to real-life problems. If you want to understand the symbolism in your dreams, I would recommend starting a journal to keep track of your dreams. You'll notice certain images and motifs that recur, maybe things like packing a bag or running late for the airport or taking a test, and you can start to connect these images to whatever is going on in your real life. We each have our own symbolic repertoire; what a cat represents to me (I hate cats) may be different from what a cat means to you. That's why "dream dictionaries," which purport to give universal interpretations of dreams, don't work.” – Alice Robb, author of Why We Dream

Negativity Is Common

“Dreams are surprisingly negative in tone – the most common dream-emotions include anxiety, fear and guilt. It's common to dream about stressful situations like turning up to an exam without having taken the class or going to a party without wearing clothes. (Lately, I've heard a lot of people dreaming about being trapped in a situation where people aren't social distancing.) But these stressful dreams may serve a purpose: if we confront and work through worst-case scenarios in our dreams, we may be better-equipped to handle similar situations in real life.” – Alice 

You’re In Control Of Your Emotions

“The morning after an anxiety-laden dream, avoid the tendency to go straight to the phone to self-soothe or numb out the feelings left by your dreams. Try to spend some time – even just for a few minutes – connecting with your breathing and coming back into your body. Journaling, even just for ten minutes, can help release the dreams – write down any impressions or memories of the dreams, remembering it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or accurate. The purpose of writing them down is to allow your subconscious (and often irrational) dreams to surface. Taking a shower can help physically wash the dream away, as can jogging, dancing or shaking chi kung. The aim of these strategies is to stop the dreams taking hold of you and spilling into your day.” – Nerina 

A Bedtime Routine Can Help

“In times of uncertainty, change and stress it is very normal for our dreams to reflect this and quite often that's when our worries can come to the surface as our brains process our experiences. I would recommend calming and restorative practices during the day to soothe the nervous system and some mind mapping before bed to work through thoughts and feelings. We put pressure on ourselves to sleep well and this could be extended to trying to have peaceful dreams – we can’t make ourselves sleep and we can't make ourselves dream nice dreams, but we can take soothing action that promotes the chance of quality sleep and calm dreams. For those who feel tortured by their dreams, and who are worried they are some kind of prophecy, I'd be reinforcing the line that it is just a dream. I would recommend a good night-time routine and commitment to regular restorative practices throughout the day – this is something you can control.” – Suzy Reading, chartered psychologist 

We caught up with psychologist and dream expert Ian Wallace to decipher some of the most common dreams, what they really mean and how to use them to reflect and make positive changes in your life…

DREAM: Teeth Falling Out

“Dreaming that your teeth are falling out or missing is one of the most common dreams across the world. When you dream about your teeth, you are usually contemplating how powerful and confident you are feeling in your day-to-day life – you show your teeth when you smile, so they often indicate how happy and self-assured you are feeling. Dreaming of losing your teeth indicates a particular situation is challenging you in your day-to-day reality and has caused you to lose confidence. Similarly, dreaming about losing teeth can symbolise a transition in your life.”

DREAM: Being Naked in Public

“When you dream about being naked in public, it indicates there’s a particular situation in your life making you feel vulnerable and exposed. It may be you are entering an unfamiliar situation, such as a new job or relationship, where you feel you lack confidence in your abilities. Often, the body part that is exposed can give more insight into the emotion our dreams are helping us to understand.”

DREAM: Falling

“Falling usually means you are taking on a lot in your life and you don’t feel grounded. Such dreams are usually triggered by the sudden realisation you are unable to completely control the outcome of a particular situation you are involved in; this could be because you set yourself high standards and feel like a failure if you are unable to maintain this level of success.”

DREAM: Death and Dying

“While dreams about death and dying can be upsetting, they are very rarely about an actual death. Instead, they tend to be reflections of transformations taking place within our waking lives. When we dream of death we are reflecting on something significant coming to a natural end in our waking life. This could signify a major change such as leaving a job or moving house.”

DREAM: Being Chased

“In this kind of dream, you often find yourself being pursued by someone or something that appears to threaten you in some way – this pursuer is more often than not some aspect of your own self and symbolises an opportunity you are pursuing in your waking life. Being chased by a gang? This indicates you have a chance to assert some of your talent. Being chased by a monster, however, suggests you have a big opportunity to use a powerful talent but that you need to take a more refined approach to using your skills.”

DREAM: Being Unprepared

“This dream recurs for people who have a tendency to take on too much and then judge themselves harshly for not measuring up to their own high standards. It’s most commonly experienced by people with a strong track record of achievements who drive themselves too hard, usually due to an inner fear of failure. The dreamer also usually feels accountable for the success or failure of projects they are involved in, and this dream usually surfaces during periods of high stress, transition into new responsibilities or new commitments.”

DREAM: Inability To Speak

“The inability to speak in a dream mirrors an unresolved tension in your waking life where you really want to say what’s on your mind and to speak and be heard. Sometimes, you might find you dream about having something stuffed in your mouth, or that your mouth is filled with seemingly endless amounts of chewing gum or sticky food. With chewing gum in particular, this can represent feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.”

DREAM: Missing A Train

“You find yourself trying to cram too many things into your luggage as you realise there’s barely enough time to get to the station or airport. Or you arrive to make your connection, and find you’re just too late. The train or plane often represents your desired progress in your career or personal life, and the inability to make the connection reflects your frustration as you try to achieve the satisfaction you crave.”

 
For more information, visit IanWallaceDreams.com. Tired But Wired and Fast Asleep, Wide Awake by Nerina Ramlakhan is available now on Amazon; visit DrNerinaWebinars.com. Self-Care For Tough Times by Suzy Reading is available now; visit SuzyReading.co.uk. Why We Dream by Alice Robb is also available now. 
 
*Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.