Dreams are imaginations in our mind that occur when we are awake and when we are asleep. When we are awake we can daydream and we can construct dreams. We make dreams and in some ways our dreams make us. Sometimes we set goals or steps to achieve our dreams. Asleep our dreams combine verbal, visual and emotional stimuli into pictures, sounds and feelings. Entertaining or frightening, some of us remember our dreams and others of us can’t recall them at all. Sometimes we wake up with a start having had a bad dream, or a nightmare. Many say that we have a great deal to learn from our dreams. The most famous expert on dreams was Freud. He found out that a part of our brain is the subconscious. In dreams, we act out these wishes. As Cinderella says, “A dream is but a wish your heart makes.”
Activity 1 – Types of dreams
Dreams that are wishful thinking are just one of the many kinds of dreams. Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming? Day dreaming, as the name implies, is when you catch your mind wandering away from the situation you are physically in. Many people daydream about where else they would like to be or what they will be doing next. Daydreams sometime pass the time, but sometimes are distracting! Another type of dream is the nightmare. Nightmares are unpleasant and often scary dreams. During the dream one may feel terror and fear. Falling and being chased are two common nightmares people have. The best escape from a nightmare is to get out of it and wake up! Lucid dreaming is the type of dream in which we are aware we are in a dream. It often happens in the middle of our dreaming period. In some strongly lucid dreams we can actually make choices and control our body. We can fly higher and higher and stop ourselves from falling. Lucid dreams often are very exciting and make us feel euphoric. Some people can even focus on repeating their dreams for continuing their dreams. An amazing type of dream that one never forgets is an epic dream. Epic dreams fill us with heightened sense of awareness, often with great joy and renewed energy. Psychic dreams are dreams of premonition or foresight through what is known as extra sensory perception or ESP. Surprisingly most psychic dreams involve people we know and that we are emotionally attached to. Some people dream and some people live lives without dreaming. Which type are you? Make a poster about different types of dreams using dream imagery!
Activity 2 – Science of Dreaming
Dreaming is an activity of the brain. It produces electrical waves that can be measured with an electroencephalograph. The sleep cycle in a typical night of sleep consists five 90 to 110 minute cycles. From awake, you begin to relax and doze and move in and out of sleep. From stage 2 to 3, you begin to sleep lightly. Your muscle activity slows down. You have occasional jumps when muscles twitch. From stage 3 to 4, your breathing and heart rate slow and you experience a slight decrease in body temperature. From stage 4 to 5, deep sleep begins as your brain begins to generate slow delta waves. In the 5th stage, dreaming occurs. REM or Rapid Eye Movement was discovered in 1953 by University of Chicago researcher Eugene Aserinsky. REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements, quicker breathing and rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Dreams occur when brain waves are especially fast. During this stage of sleep, brain activity actually increases to the same level (alpha) as when we are awake, or even higher. It is during this 5th REM stage that we have dreams! Most dreams last from five to twenty minutes. Dreams can be in black and white and in color! Even though we may not remember them, we dream several times a night. In fact, during a typical lifetime, we spend about six years dreaming! When people are snoring though, they are not dreaming. Map the stages of sleep noting the dreaming REM stage.
Activity 3 – Journaling Dreams
If you want to follow and explore your dreams, keeping a dream diary will help. Select a journal or tablet and keep it beside your bed. When you wake up, think if you have been dreaming. Quickly write down any details you remember. Most of what is remembered often slips away in the first minute of awakening! Often the idea to have a diary prompts us to remember our dreams better and in more detail. Describe your mood. Provide details about the scene or scenes in the story. Note colors, time of day and season. Record the characters and their descriptions and actions. Often when we wake up we remember the last part of the dream like a photograph. If we work to remember that the entire episode may come back into our memory. The more you sleep the more apt you are to dream and remember your dreams. Make dream journal entries in your diary.
Activity 4 – signs & symbols in dreams
Things in our dreams may not always be what they seem. When we dream, certain signs and symbols may come into view. Have you ever had a bird, a candle, a strange child, and an open door in one of your dreams? Signs and symbols are assigned meaning that can be interpreted into narratives. Each sign and symbol can represent a mood, a feeling, or even a memory. Often signs and symbols are repeated. There are many online websites that reveal meaning and interpret common signs and symbols. For instance, did you know a dream of falling is one of the most common types of dreams? Most people will dream of falling at least a few times in their lifetimes. Falling interprets as having lost control of a situation in your life. It is a way of your unconscious communicating with your conscious to take some action. If you remember a falling dream, try to remember who you were with, where you were, if you were pushed or saved. Looking for dreams and reflecting on them can be beneficial for mental and physical health. Dreams can identify hints as to what we are experiencing and what we need to work through. Interpreting dreams often helps to prepare and handle day-to-day stressors in more positive, healthy, and creative ways. Think of dreams as a way of internally communicating. Dreams can mirror fears, reflect aspirations, and massage conflicts! Make a chart of dates of dreams, dreamed symbols and possible meanings.
Activity 5 – analyzing dreams
People analyze their dreams by reflecting on their meaning. The psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, considered that there were two types of dream analysis- subjective and objective. He believed dreams were windows into your unconscious. Often it is difficult to remember, let alone try to understand, what dreams are saying. Sometimes we remember one part of the dream but not the other. A handy way to recall dreamed events is by writing them down. By keeping a journal beside our bed, we not only can remember more parts of our dreams, but abler to deeply analyze a calendared series of events. Attaining the ability to understand dreams is a powerful tool. In analyzing your dreams, you can learn about more about yourself and your hidden feelings. Pay attention to colors, people, places and emotions in dreams. Analyze your symbols and signs chart and review your dream journey and try to create a narrative of your most common dream. Look closely at details that may at first seem insignificant may offer clues as what our subconscious is trying to tell us. You are the best person to analyze and interpret your dreams. Make a poster of different dreams remembered. Consider scary dreams, happy dreams, and dreams of danger.
Activity 6 – have a dream!
Martin Luther King’s famous speech, “I have a dream” sends its message around the world annually in celebration of having an idea and having the perseverance and strength to see it through to actualization. Ideas like King’s are socially engaged ideas to activate change in behavior and improve quality of life. What is your dream? What do you want to do to help others and to improve the world? Think about your interests. Think about your talent. Think about what you do best.
Finish this sentence: My Dream is…
- What are dreams?
- What are the main types of dreams?
- In 1953 who discovered REM sleep?
- How long do typical dreams last?
- How does the brain produce dreams?