A dream can be explained as a succession of sensations, emotions, ideas, and images that occur involuntarily in a person’s mind during certain stages of sleep. It’s not really understood what the purpose and content of dreams are, but they have certainly been the subject of religious and philosophical interest and a topic of scientific speculation throughout recorded history. Interestingly, the scientific study of dreams is known as Oneirology.

When Does Dreaming Occur?

 It’s during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep that dreams mainly occur, because this is when brain activity is high and most resembles that of being awake. It’s the continuous movements of the eyes during sleep that identifies REM sleep; however, dreams can occur during other sleep stages, but these dreams tend to be less memorable and much less vivid. (1)

The Length of Dreams

 Our dreams vary in length: they may last for just a few seconds, and they’ve been known to last for between 20 and 30 minutes. The reason why some dreamers are able to recall their dreams is because they have been woken up whilst in the REM phase of sleep.(2) On average, people have between three and five dreams each night, with some having up to seven; however most of our dreams are quickly forgotten. It seems that our dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses and, when we have a full eight-hour sleep, the majority of our dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM.

Today’s Explanation of DreamsExplanation of Dreams

 Today, many people see dreams as a connection to the unconscious mind. There are varying natures of dreams, such as exciting, frightening, melancholic, magical, adventurous, and even sexual; (3) and our dreams seem to range from normal and ordinary right through to bizarre and completely surreal. With the exception of lucid dreaming, the events that occur in our dreams are normally outside the control of the dreamer. The dreamer is self-aware during lucid dreaming. Sometimes, dreams can implant a creative thought, thus giving the dreamer a sense of inspiration. (4)

Throughout cultures and time, opinions have varied and shifted about the meaning of dreams. It seems that people generally endorse the Freudian theory of dreams, and that is that dreams reveal hidden emotions and desires. Other theories are that dreams help us in problem solving, in memory formation, or that they occur simply due to random brain activation.

Some people have a sleep disorder in which they physically act out their dreams during sleep called REM Behavior Disorder (RBD). In this case, acting out dreams can be dangerous to the individual and bed partner.

The History of Dream Interpretation
The History of Dream Interpretation

 Going back around 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia, the earliest recorded dreams were documented on clay tablets. In the Roman and Greek periods, people believed that dreams were messages sent directly from one or more deities, from deceased people, and that they were the predictors of the future. Then there were cultures that practiced dream incubation, their intention being to cultivate dreams of prophecy.

What do Dreams Mean?

What do dreams mean

In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud wrote extensively about the theory of dreams and their interpretations. Freud believed that dreams are a manifestation of our deepest anxieties and desires, often relating to repressed childhood obsessions or memories. In addition, it was his belief that almost every dream topic, irrespective of its content, represented the release of sexual tension. In Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams 1899, he developed a psychological technique whereby dreams could be interpreted; he also devised a series of guidelines to help us understand the motives and symbols that appear in our dreams.


8 thoughts on “Dreams: What They Mean & Psychology Behind Them

  1. Anonymous Reply

    For some reason i dream about a game thats called Glory of generals pacific and i am a general then some of my allies were some of my friends and we were americans then the japanese were some of my other friends.Can you explain my dream or does it have no meaning

  2. Anonymous Reply

    I have been having these dreams over and over for about 2 weeks and was wondering if someone could tell me if they know what it means. So I am in this video game with my friends from my old school that I recently moved away from, and the video game is kind of a hide and seek sort of layout and when someone was caught ( This is how I knew I was in a game ) there was a game over. The seeker was a “Spider Person” I don’t really know how to describe it. My best friend was caught by the seeker and I really didn’t do anything, I just stood there. Eventually I make it out not really thinking about anyone else and the last thing I saw was the seeker almost congratulating me for my escape, like a smile and a wave, and I wake up after that normally, just confused.

    • kavya Reply

      I have thought that this may indicate that you are helping the “Spider Person” to catch your best friend.This can be a danger to your best friend . this only a though please don’t completely rely on this.

    • Dream theorist8521 Reply

      Okay hi so I’m just someone whoes interested and to be honest I’m probably not 100% sure but .. so I think your dream is the way it is because u either feel as if your not being a true friend and feel guilty about something to do with ur friend or in general. Or it might be just signaling a need of seperation and just maybe u need to let go of ur old friends and try and seek new ones in as u have moved recently. And as for the seeker congratualting u maybe its ur own sub concious saying to “break free” and let go and leave (btw.. idk honestly just a wild guess.)

  3. Albina Reply

    I don’t see dreams that often.Some of my dreams are predictors of the near future (up to 6 months future). Some of them are just from thinks or things that we discuss in the last week through the day before we sleep. Some of my dreams that I don’t remember well are just nothing it means that the scientist are a proofing. Usually the dreams that you remember very well after you wake up have the meaning. And as you are saying not all dreams are base on brain activation. I am a big politician but I have never seen any politician dream or sexy dream or religious or whatever. I wish your space to comment in here will be larger at same time being larger will be boring to read from readers.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    No not always,bt those wishes which are being repressed or which are left unfulfilled they reveal those wishes in dreams

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