What Do Different Dreams Mean?
"So I was in my grandma's house, but it wasn't really her house, more like a barn with small rooms and hallways, and Grandma was baking cookies, but they were the size of dinner plates, and they had eyes and mouths, and they were chewing gum. Then Grandma turned into my kindergarten teacher, and suddenly we were in a classroom, which was in this dirty swamp. She told us that chewing bubble gum was the only way to learn to spell properly. So she gave us all a piece bubble gum, but it grew in our mouths so that we couldn't talk. Then she lit a cigarette and turned into Fonzie from Happy Days and told us that if we didn't pass the test, she would turn into butterscotch pudding."
Sound a little familiar? The effects of a strange, beautiful, or terrifying dream can linger for hours, affecting your emotions or making things look a little different, like you're still trapped in that dreamscape. Dreaming is one of the most mysterious activities known to humans, and even if you don't remember your dreams, you can rest assured you're doing it.
The purpose of dreaming is unknown to science, although there's no shortage of theories. Some say it's a way for the brain to synthesize emotions and experiences, while others suggest its purpose is to reset our cognitive wiring. Some believe that dreams are a journey into dimensions we have no access to as physical entities or that our dreams are prophetic in some way. Whatever the case, dreaming is weird and wonderful, and many of us thoroughly enjoy relaying our nighttime adventures to our colleagues and friends.
But What Do Our Dreams Mean?
A few common themes and dream situations arise for nearly every dreamer in every culture, allowing researchers to interpret these dreams more accurately. While it's important to remember that dream interpretation is not an exact science and its role as a therapeutic tool has been somewhat overplayed in popular culture, some common dreams may give you clues to the state of your subconscious. The key to accurately interpreting your dreams is examining what's happening in your life during your waking hours. Still, dream experts agree on the general interpretation of a number of common dreams, including the dreaded falling dream and the often horrifying public nudity dream.
The Falling Dream
One common dream with a widely accepted interpretation is the falling dream. We've all experienced a dream where we're falling from a building or out of a plane, and in most cases — although not all — these are nightmares, and we often thrash around or vocalize in our sleep as we fall.
Scientists have found heightened stress levels in the brain during these dreams, and many therapists point out a possible correlation between falling dreams and stressful periods in our lives. The falling seems to be a coping or warning mechanism of the brain, one of the primary ways the subconscious can express alarm at its own stressed state.
If you're experiencing falling dreams, consider taking a few minutes each day to meditate and clear your head. Stress comes with a wealth of adverse effects on your mental and physical health, and stressful dreams may indicate you need some serious stress relief.
Embarrassing Nude Dreams
Another common dream involves finding yourself naked in public. These dreams are very common in pubescent teens, but we've all had those awful dreams where we show up at work and realize we're not wearing clothes.
Public nudity dreams often come with feelings of shame, guilt or humiliation for the dreamer, but therapists have noted that those with more positive body images or outgoing personalities often report a feeling of freedom or exhilaration at finding themselves starker (bare) in public. If nothing else, nude dreams can act as a litmus test for your own attitudes towards your body.