It’s not uncommon to reflect on our dreams, whether it be the night before or even right after we wake up. But do they really mean anything? A study was published in Frontiers of Psychology earlier this year that surveyed how meaning is assigned to dream content and whether those meanings affect waking behaviours.
There are plenty of different theories as to what dreams mean , such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory about dreams meaning something because of repressed thoughts and desires. However, there are also other schools of thought like one by Jung who proposed a collective unconscious meaning we all share similar unconscious imagery and symbolism regardless of culture, education, language etc. We may even find meaning in dreams by considering them as of art rather than symbols for meaning .
Regardless of meaning, dreams are intriguing to consider. The aforementioned study about meaning in dreams found that people are more likely to try new things in their waking life if they find meaning within a dream . This is even true after they wake up! It’s not hard to imagine that the meaning we attribute may affect motivation for activities. Of course, it’s important to monitor what these meanings tell us about ourselves because there may be negative connotations as well.
So why do we dream? Well, one popular theory suggests that dreams serve as a way for our brains to consolidate memories and process information from the day before . There have also been studies suggesting dreaming helps with creativity by letting our brains explore different scenarios without actually being out in the real world. Other research has found that humans and other mammals dream, meaning it is a biological process in our brains and not just an artifact of language and culture .
Dreams can be interpreted differently by everyone we talk to, but there is some evidence telling us they may mean something. So next time you wake up from a vivid dream, think about what it could mean for you!