Can You “Program” Your Own Dreams?
A couple of frequently asked questions about dreams actually have a lot in common:
- Is there any way to re-enter a dream after waking from one?
- Can you “Invite” a dream back into your dream world. For example, once you have dreamed about a particular thing, can you make yourself dream about it again?
Whenever I’m asked this one, my response is never one the dreamer wants to hear. It’s been my experience that you cannot (once awake) quickly return to the dream you have just left. If this has happened with anyone, I’d have to say that the dreamer never fully awoke.
The second frequently asked question also receives the same negative-type answer (sorry about that!): While it’s not “impossible” (since few things are ever 100% impossible), it’s highly unlikely that you can “make” your brain repeat a dream or even return to the scene of the dream, so to speak.
There are, in all fairness, some dreamologists who believe that a dreamer can “program” their mind to dream about a certain subject. They say that frequently thinking about this subject – especially as you are falling asleep – can cause the brain to enter into this type of dream. However, even if the general subject of the dream is created, there are no sure bets that things will play out as you thought they would.
While it isn’t a sure thing, all I can say is this: What would it hurt to try?! I’m not convinced that you can direct your dreams from “this” side, but I’d have to agree that focusing on the desired outcome is the way to go about it.
However, I think the better question would be, “Why are you wanting to return to this dream in the first place?” If the dream scenario is revisiting loved ones who have passed (a frequent dream people don’t want to leave), realize that you obviously miss them even more than you realized. Get out old photographs and think and talk about these loved ones. Mention them more throughout the day, keeping their memory alive.
Our dreams about loved ones are extra sweet because we feel as though we have “visited” with them. Simply “visit” with them throughout the day with treasured memories.
If you feel your dream is helping you “work something out” in your mind, you can get to the answer through another door – daydreams. Daydreaming (at appropriate times, of course) can help your mind sort through things that your conscious mind often gets in the way of.
Daydreams are also a great way to deal with a dream we wake from “sooner” than we’d like. Simply close your eyes and “daydream” the rest of the story. You’re able to call the shots more with this approach anyway!
It’s Easy to Understand When You Look at the Numbers
First the “Dream” numbers:
- The average person has between 1,460 and 2,190 dreams each year.
- We often have as many as four different dreams a night. We dream during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which experts tell us happens multiple times while we sleep. REM sleep lasts about 5 minutes, so multiple times is a pretty safe bet.
- We don’t even remember 95% of the dreams we have!
We’re actually lucky if we clearly remember 3 dreams each week.
Several factors influence whether we remember a dream or not and even how vividly we remember the dream. One of these factors is WHEN we awake from the dream. If we briefly wake up during the night, just long enough to roll over and go back to sleep, we probably aren’t going to recall the dream we just had. We’re much more likely to remember the last dream we had during the night. This is why the dream we’re having right before the alarm goes off is the one we remember.
Another factor that influences our ability to remember a dream is HOW we wake up. If we’re able to lie still and sort of “glide” into a conscious state, we may “hold on” to the dream – especially if we get into the habit of concentrating on what we “just experienced” or what we just “went through.”
However, if we’re jarred awake by an alarm clock, a sudden noise, or even another person, our attention will immediately focus on them instead of what we were just “experiencing”. Then our woozy mind will immediately segue into thoughts of coffee, breakfast, the warmth and comfort of the bed (and how much we want to stay put!), things they have to do that day, etc.
It won’t take long for the dream to get lost in the shuffle.
When you think about all of the contributing factors, it’s a wonder we actually remember as many of our dreams as we do.
Tips for Remembering Your Dreams
- Get into the habit of focusing immediately on your dreams when you wake up. When you learn to automatically tie together “waking up” and “recalling what you just experienced,” you’ll slowly become an expert at dream recall.
- Some people are able to get in touch with their dreams by asking themselves, as soon as they wake up, “How do I feel right now?” They claim that the answer causes them to refocus on the dream. For example, if they answer, “Frustrated,” their mind will automatically go to why they are frustrated.
- Many people are helped by keeping a notebook and pen by their bed. Over time, waking up and writing down their dream becomes such a habit that the mind begins to remember even more details – they say they are always amazed by how much the brain actually recalls when it realizes that it’ll be “tested” on the details!
- The number one tip, however, for remembering your dream is this: Try to quiet your mind as much as possible in the morning. This may mean setting your alarm clock 10-15 minutes earlier to give yourself more time in the morning.
Whatever approach you take to improve your dream recall, I’m sure your effort will be more than worth the trouble!
What Are Your Personal Experiences?!
Experts tell us that we aren’t able to read while dreaming. Apparently this holds true for telling time as well – while we may see clocks in our dreams, we’re unable to “tell” what time it is.
I’ve tried to think of my own dreams to test these theories out. I can recall a few dreams where books were involved, but there weren’t any words on the covers – only pictures.
I also recall a really vivid dream where my family and I were in a fast food restaurant. We were looking at the large lit-up menu above the counter, but there were only pictures – no words. In the dream, we even pointed to the food we wanted.. no reading, no words involved!
Have you had any dreams, yourself, where words and/or numbers WERE involved or dreams (similar to mine) where they were “no shows?”
See More Facts About Dreams.
You Simply Don’t Remember Them All!
A lot of people think they only have one dream each night. They’d be surprised to learn that they probably have more than one. A LOT more.
In an interesting article on WebMD about dreams, dream expert Lauri Quinn Loewenberg explained it this way: “We dream every 90 minutes throughout the night, with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the previous. The first dream of the night is about 5 minutes long and the last dream you have before awakening can be 45 minutes to an hour long.”
I guess it’s pretty obvious why we’re more apt to remember our last dream rather than our first dream!
UPDATE: I’m re-doing the entire Dream Dictionary on the website. WHY? Simple. Dream symbols change over time and, therefore, their interpretations or meanings also change. The most accurate dream dictionary is one that changes and updates with the times. The guide is linked to in the top nav bar throughout the website and each letter (A – Z) will appear in the drop down menu. It’s a work (or a RE-work, to be more precise!) in progress, so – as of today – there aren’t a lot of entries.
In the meantime, simply enter your dream symbol in the search box (on the right) to find an interpretation on the website. With all the dream interpretations, I think I’ve covered just about everything imaginable, but if you’re unable to find what you’re looking for, either e-mail me or leave a comment on any of the previous posts.
How Physical Pain Affects Our Dreams
The more facts you read about dreams, the more you realize just how fascinating they are. This week’s “Fascinating Fact” is one you may have experienced yourself. Have you ever dreamed that you were in pain of some sort, only to wake up and find that the pain was REAL?
Some people believe they hurt themselves in their dream, but that’s not the case. What happens is this: When we experience pain with any type of intensity, we often “work” this pain into our dream. If our spouse inadvertently kicks us in the middle of the night, for example, we may dream that something has hit us in the leg.
Lab studies have actually been performed that prove a couple of ways dreamers respond to pain during sleep:
- If it’s a mild, annoying type of pain (for example, they’re foot has fallen asleep and they’re experiencing the pins and needles business), they may dream that their shoe is on too tight or that their foot is stuck in something.
- If they are suffering from something more intense (such as a broken bone or pulled muscle), the pain may manifest itself in the dream as something the dreamer is trying to “escape” from. Physical suffering often shows up in dreams as something that the dreamer is trying to out-run, hide from, or even destroy.
I once got an e-mail from a woman who was CONVINCED she’d cut herself in her dream. She said that, in the dream, she cut herself on the leg with a piece of paper. When she woke up the next morning, she noticed a scratch exactly where she’d dreamed of being cut. I told her that – although this certainly would make for the coolest of stories – it was physically impossible for a dream symbol to leave a mark.
I asked her if she had pets that regularly slept with her or if she slept with someone who might just need to clip their toenails! She said that she had two cats that slept with her and her husband.
When I told her that it was pretty obvious that one of the cats accidentally scratched her leg – she agreed that it was “possible,” but that she planned on sticking with the paper cut explanation.
I guess a “good” story appeals to some people more than the plain old truth!