Dreams: What They Mean & Psychology Behind Them

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.


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

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Dreamt about the coronation and a dinner.
    A woman just lay down at the side of the road and fell asleep?

  2. FreeFalling Reply

    I used to have dreams every now and then where I would be climbing up a very high/tall ladder and once I reached to top, I would look down and see my family and loved ones below me, and then I would fall off the ladder but once I hit the ground I woke up and it felt as if I had fallen on my bed. I heard once that when you die in your sleep the angels pick you up and carry you up to heaven but sometimes they drop you and that is why one occasionally feels as if they have fallen from a high distance in their dreams and dropped/ landed on their bed. Strangely enough this makes sense to me.

  3. Curt Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this. What an incredibly vivid dream to have! You also described it well, I like that line about the younger generation preferring the “simple dumb” rather than the “smart stupidities”, as well as describing the siren of the ambulance as a record being played slowly. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Khondamir Musayev Reply

    I have millions of dreams like today I had a dream about, I was in a hotel and in the hotel was a Zombie apocalypse and I was the only survivor left so I went to the top of the stairs, they were chasing me, but I kicked them all the way down the stairs. Now I am trying to figure out what my dream ment?

  5. someone Reply

    i keep having the same dream of the same person every time i go to sleep, if its during the day or during the night i just dont understand why, the dreams are so peaceful and its always about me and my crush talking but idk why its always them i never have dreams about somebody else.

  6. Jeanette Trigger from Australia Reply

    Couldn’t dreams be a many things? Prediction , problem solving, fears and warnings?

  7. Dawn Reply

    What does it mean to dream about a tall black figure in a white mask in a purple kimono and has a purple handkerchief on his black hair in a bun?

  8. Jason Bratcher Reply

    I’ve been totally blind since birth.
    So pardon the extra descriptive?
    For about the past 9 years I’ve been living just east of Tampa, Florida in a smaller town called Valrico.
    Yet almost every night I keep having a mostly random dream about a seemingly random experience of my past back west in Tampa (usually a good experience; high school graduation, playing a keyboard or two at GuitarCenter or at one odd point fictitiously hosting a gameshow.).
    All is well for the most part…
    Just outside of ten minutes left in the dream I hear a local foreclosure lockout curfue is about to go into effect and all non-Tampa residents must leave the city before their former property is destroyed and they be arrested.
    I somehow manage to get back to Valrico just in time to thenbe be able to watch as my former childhood house of nearly 28 years gets instantly demolished (not leaving a crumb of foundation behind) by Hillsborough County Code Enforcement personell (They claimed it was an incompatible and undesirable
    eye sore to the city and a useless antique anachronism that’s dead and distolerated in the modern world.).
    Funny enough, on exactly Tuesday, November 6th of 2012 at around 6 PM, me and my mom foreclosed from the childhood house by signing foreclosure documents and moved out here to Valrico permanently (never to travel back west for any reason).
    At the end of some of these dreams, just the house would be cited by a natural disaster or the immediate neighborhood.
    One time I got lucky to see the entire city of Tamp and even the surrounding cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater wiped off the map as if the entire region never existed.
    After a few seconds in the dream, the destruction made national news and a banner showed up on my tv screen.
    The classics are dead, son;
    Today’s Gen-Z done don’t care about the yester-year, son.
    All we care about is bad FisherPrice toy quality mumble rap music and shitty memes to memorize, son;
    Keep your comlpicated classics to yourself and don’t advertise them, son;
    We prefer our simple dumb not smart stupidities, son;
    Don’t be caught discussing Braille, son;
    Move along the conveyor belt of life and forget this place.
    It means nothing to you in the end.
    Then almost as if I’m sitting right next door to where the old house used to stand, construction crews finish putting pu a building in it place and celebrate the grand opening with fireworks.
    If at any point a likeness of me is spotted in Tampa in this building now, gunshots go off at point-blank range, not hitting me but rather the ghost formations of me from my past and shattering them like glass in a china closet.
    At least one image of me is foreclosed by a gunshot at this point since the code enforcers keep forgetting the concept of “if walls could talk,…”.
    I woke up from one such dream thinking I heard our ambulance with the electromechanical siren go by. Sure enough, the ambulance was just going by down Valrico Road at full board.
    Prior to this dream ending, it sounded as if the siren was being slowed down like it was on a record still spinning that would take a year to come to a complete stop yet I had the luxury of being able to listen to the record come to the full stop.
    At that exact point everything in the dream just self-destructed (even the ambulance too) and I wokr up.
    The End
    I know Tampa’s better off without me.

    • Curt Reply

      I really enjoyed reading this. What an incredibly vivid dream to have! You also described it well, I like that line about the younger generation preferring the “simple dumb” rather than the “smart stupidities”, as well as describing the siren of the ambulance as a record being played slowly. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kayla Reply

    I keep having the same dream over and over again several times a night every night that someone famous kill’s themselves to prove a point and it would hurt me so much I would cry and cry and have heart ache and I would wake up crying every time. Some are longer and some are shorter. Like sometimes I visit his family and sometimes I wake up after witnessing it and sometimes I don’t get to them in time and ai don’t witness it. What could this mean? He isn’t a friend or anything but I recognize him from social media. Its so bizarre to me!

  10. ScareToDream Reply

    I dreamed a lot since I was young. For average, I have like 3 different dreams at one night. Every time I dreamed about creepy, exhausting, annoying or something like these, I knew I was dreaming and I could get up from it immediately. But the older I get, it’s difficult now to do. And, I have the kind of dreams I dreamed repeat exactly same. I dreamed them about 3 times a year. For example, I dreamed of there was a place like many confused ways to get out my mom left me alone that place was nightmare to me. I dreamed that repeatedly when I was young. At the same time, I was crying in dream and outside too. There was tears on my cheeks when I woke up. I couldn’t tell to my mom about that it was so lonely, dark and afraid. I don’t dream that anymore now. But I have that kind of similar creepy and afraid dreams which I still dream now.

    P.S Now I can’t remember my dreams I used to. I always forget when I woke up.

  11. ScareToDream Reply

    I’ve been dreaming things I secure about for 3 weeks. It felt tiring and idk how to express the feeling but I don’t like it for sure.

  12. Ricardo Roman Reply

    In my dreams, all the words are misspelled or scramble, anyone else have that?
    Is something wrong with me?

  13. lexinx Reply

    i dream of my crush he’s my brothers best friend but i think he leo key likes me he said he listens to my spotify playlist, however i dreamed of me hugging him and him hugging me and he said “why are we hugging this won’t work youre my best friends sister” and i answered “we’re just friends”

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