, Research Paper
WHAT YOUR DREAMS
ARE TELLING YOU
Do you know what your dreams are telling you? If your answer was NO you re not alone. Many people have no idea what their dreams are trying to tell them. In this research paper I will answer this question and many other questions about dreams, sleep and also types of dreams. I will also talk about some of the most common or popular dreams and their meanings. We will explore some dream theories and interpretations of dreams. I have also done my own at hand research which I will be sharing with you the reader in this paper. I wish to take you through the dreaming process step by step, but in order for dreams to begin we must first sleep. So that is where I ll begin, with the sleep process.
All dreaming starts with sleep. When we sleep there are four stages that we go through (Carskadon 4). Stage one is the lightest phase of sleep. In stage one sleep there is often visual imagery involved. Images appear in the form of wandering or dream like thought which can be controlled unlike a full dream state. In this stage of sleep someone can be awakened by low volume sounds or slight touch. Stage one sleep happens through-out the night. It often reappears as a transitional state of sleep following arousal during the night. When stage one does reappear during sleep it only last thirty seconds to one minute (Carskadon 5-6). Young adults spend ten to fifteen minutes a night in stage one sleep (Carskadon 6). Sometimes during sleep you feel your body jerk or twitch, that is called Hypnic Jerks . This usually happens right before stage two sleep occurs (Carskadon 6).
Stage two sleep may have some of the slower eye movement of stage one but in general stage two sleep is free of any eye movement. Another feature of stage two is arousal. Since stage two is a deeper sleep than stage one it will take more arousal to awaken a person from this stage of sleep. The transition from stage two sleep to stage three occurs with a gradual decrease in brain thought (Carskadon 7-9).
Stage three sleep as well as stage four is usually referred to as a slow wave sleep. Which basically mean a slow frequency of brain thought. There are no visible eye movements in this stage (Carskadon 10). Again in stage three it takes even more arousal then stage two sleep, to awaken a person from this state of sleep. Most of the dreams remembered occur during stage three sleep (Carskadon 11-12).
Stage four sleep is the deepest of sleep. This is where the body and mind gets the most rest. Brain frequencies increase slightly in stage four sleep. In this stage of sleep people begin their dreams. When a person is dreaming you can visually tell by the movement of the eyes. Scientist and theorist measure deep sleep by R.E.M. which simply means rapid eye movement . R.E.M. is measured by sleep monitoring instruments. What they measure is the amount of time your eye moves in stage four sleep and also brain activity along with frequency. Once again much more arousal is needed to awaken a stage four sleeper (Carskadon 14-19).
Next we need to examine dreams and the different types of dreams. According to Dr. Koch-Sheras the definition of a dream is a story that evolves in your mind, all in a single flash (32). Dr. Koch- Sheras also states that a dream is a sequence of sensations, images and thoughts (32). I discovered through recent self research I that a lot of people don t remember their dreams or that they just don t dream at all. Well the myth that not everyone dreams is false. Everyone dreams. Everyone! (Koch-Sheras 41). Within a year some people may only remember few or no dreams but, they still dream. Some people are just able to recall dreams better than others (Koch-Sheras 42-46). Dr. Medard Boss professor of psychotherapy at the University of Zurich says that People with above average I.Q. and or upper brain function are more apt to recall dreams of the past nights sleep and sometimes of dreams in past days, weeks, months and possibly years in certain past cases (192).
There are many different types of dreams, too many to list in this paper. I will go over a couple of the most common types of dreams. Have you ever realized you were dreaming while the dream was still happening? Experts refer to that as a Lucid Dream (Koch-Sheras 61). Just about everyone over the age of 20 has experienced a lucid dream and more often during nightmares (Koch-Sheras 61). Now you might ask how do you know when you have had a lucid dream? It s when the fear of the situation suddenly lifts you up and out of your dream and you have to say to your self It was only a dream (Koch-Sheras 62). A lot of the time dreamers wake themselves up as soon as they notice they are dreaming. A lucid dream may sound like a nightmare, but they are a little bit different (Koch-Sheras 62).
Now according to The Encyclopedia of Dreams their definition of a nightmare is A frightening dream, often accompanied by a felling of oppression and helplessness (647). Dr. Koch-Sheras says that a nightmare is A disturbing dream that causes the dreamer to wake up feeling anxious or frightened (67). Also with a nightmare the content of the dream is easily recalled. In some nightmares the plot may seem silly or cartoon like in away, especially in clear light of day. Still the strong emotions are all too real and may stay with the dreamer for days to weeks (Koch-Sheras 67-69).
There are many theories about where dreams come from. I will discuss what a few of the leading people in dream research have to say about dreams. Sigmund Freud was one of the founders of psychoanalysis and also the first physician to see dreams as a window to the soul (Boss 125). Freud published twenty-six different volumes about dream interpretation. Freud believed that dreams came from our unconscious memory. It can be lost memories, repressed emotion or lost emotion (Boss 114). Carl Jung worked with Freud until a dispute between the two. Carl Jung is also an early leader of dreams. Carl Jung thought dreams are a natural event and there is no reason under the sun why we should assume that it is a crafty device to lead us astray (Boss 114).
Two Americans unlocked a big key about their discovery of REM period of sleep. Calvin Hall and Fredrick Perls believed that dreams are common everyday objects and settings leading them to conclude that dreams are about every day life and present day and not instead of latent content of the dream, as Freud believed (Lavie 118). Other recent research suggests that it could be both everyday life and unexpressed content. Which would make all three dream theorists above partially correct (Lavie 118).
My next bit of research was a little tougher to find. I wanted to know What do people dream about ? To find out this answer I created by own survey. I did a survey of 200 different students. All the students surveyed attend San Bernardino Valley College. I wanted this survey to be the best representation of all the students at Valley College, so I interviewed students of different age s, sex and race. Out of the 200 different college students I found out exactly what people dream. Most important I found out what the ten most common dreams were. The survey consisted of me walking up to 200 college students and asking them When you sleep at night, what are your three most reoccurring dreams? . Do you know what your three most reoccurring dreams are? Hold on to your answer and later on you can see if your dreams are the same as Valley College students.
After analysis of the hundreds of responses given to me, this next information can be found. Now remember earlier in this paper we debunked the myth that not all people dream. Everyone dreams they simply can t recall their dreams. But out of the students surveyed 42% of them told me that they don t dream or can t remember, and the other 58% said that they remember their dreams. Next I am going to share with you a list of the top ten most common dreams, dreamt by Valley College Students from most common to less common.
1. Dreams about falling.
2. Dreams about sex.
3. Dreams of death or dying.
4. Dreams about going to school or being in class.
5. Dreams about money.
6. Dreams about being chased.
7. Dreams about work or past jobs.
8. Dreams of flying or floating.
9. Dreams about there own future
10. Dreams about friends and past acquaintance
During this research the most popular dream falling just barely beat out the second most popular dream in terms of being the most reoccurring dream. I feel though that some people might not want to discuss their sex dreams with a stranger giving a survey. Now that we know what dreams people have, we need to ask ourselves What does the dream mean or symbolize? I ve looked through many encyclopedias on dream interpretation to tell you what it all means. Since there are an uncountable amount of different dreams to interpret we can t discuss them all.. I will go through and give you some meanings and symbolism s of a few of the most popular dreams at valley college. Starting with the most popular dream at Valley College, falling . To dream about falling and being frightened, suggests that you will under go some great struggle, but will eventually rise to honor and wealth. If you were injured in the fall, you will encounter hardships and loss (Koch-Sheras 210).
The second most popular dream is sex . Sex was not just a common dream of the younger students surveyed but older students as well. To dream that you are having or have had a pleasurable sexual experience could mean that you are happy and content in your personal relationships. To dream of watching other people having sex, denotes an inability to be part of a successful, satisfying relationship (Delaney 46-48). But if you dream of a joyless sexual experience it could be a warning that you could be contemplating some undertaking which, if carried out, can end up to disgrace or guilt you in some way (Delaney 46-48).
At this time I would like to move down the popular list of dreams to number five money . The definition of money as a dream has many meanings which I will go over. To dream of finding money, denotes small worries, but much happiness. Change sometimes follows dreams of finding money (Miller 324). To dream of paying out money could mean misfortune, but to receive money means great prosperity and unalloyed pleasures (Bynum 218). To dream of losing money suggest you will experience unhappy hours in the home and affairs appear to be gloomy. Dreaming about counting money and finding it short could mean that you re worried about your bills and expenses (Bynum 218-219). A dream that you stole money could suggest that you are in danger and should guard your actions (Lavie 184). As you can see there are many dreams about money and many more that I have not mentioned as well.
We have just finished going through the dream process, the only thing left is awakening. Sleep and dreaming effects all of us. Everyone sleeps and also everyone dreams. It is something we do every night and there is no escaping it. The need for sleep and dreams calls out to all of us. Dreaming is a necessary exercise for the brain. It enhances imagination and creativity of the mind. Freud once called it the only true time where our brain thinks and acts without interference of consciousness (Boss 74). I hope this research paper was able to give you a starting foundation to understanding the dream process and what our bodies and especially our minds go through during a sleep cycle. After this research I feel that being able to understand our dreams is a gate way for understanding our conscious and unconscious thoughts.
Boss, Medard M.D.. The Analysis of Dreams. New York: Philosophical Library, 1958.
Bynum, Edward Ph.D.. Families and the Interpretation of Dreams. Binghamton: Harrington Park Press, 1994
Carskadon, Mary. Stages of Sleep. Encyclopedia of Sleep. 1993 Ed.
Delaney, Gale Dr.. Sexual Dreams-Why We Have Them, What They Mean. Columbine: Fawcett, 1994.
Koch-Sheras, Phyllis P.H.D.. The Dream Source Book. Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1995.
Lavie, Peretz. The Enchanted World of Sleep. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
Miller, Gustavus. 10,000 Dreams Interpreted. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995.