Dreams, what are they?
Dreams come from your subconscious mind as a means of processing and sorting information. But the truth is no one really knows what causes dreams and why some folk seem to have vivid colorful dreams and others have short uneventful ones.
Dreams mainly occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM occurs every one and a half hours during the sleep cycle. During REM the eyes move from side to side and the body is relaxed and almost incapable of movement.
Have you ever told people, "I never dream"? Well you're wrong. The fact is everybody dreams every night. You just may not be able to remember your dreams.
Don't worry too much if this is the case. Not remembering dreams doesn't mean you're abnormal or unnatural in any way. While most people do remember their dreams, the memory is fleeting and occurs mainly when the sleeper first awakens.
If you really want to be able to remember your dreams, the best way is to 'remind yourself' before falling asleep. This programs the subconscious mind - the source of your dreams - to hold on to the memory.
When you wake up, try and hold the dream in your mind until you have a chance to record it. The easiest way to do this is to have a notebook and pen or a personal voice recorder beside your bed, so you can write down the dream before it disappears and gets 'buried' by the normal thoughts and concerns of everyday life.
With a bit of practice you'll find little snippets of your dreams beginning to reveal themselves. This procedure will also work well for those who remember occasional dreams or those who want to remember every dream they have.
Books on dream interpretation abound and many people believe that dreams create a window into the subconscious mind where they can find answers to their most pressing problems and even see into the future.
This can be a dangerous practice. At best you can waste a lot of money buying books which lean towards the esoteric and lack knowledge in this area. Even sleep specialists know a large part of interpreting dreams is pure speculation.
At worst dream interpretation can be taken too seriously and people can depend too heavily on finding the (sometimes false) meaning of their dreams. This can lead to depression and even paranoia. It's best to treat dream interpretation as a bit of fun and realize that there may be many different ways to analyze dreams and their meaning.
If you are having recurring dreams or nightmares, it's best to contact a therapist experienced in this area. Don't go down the mystical route of trying to analyze yourself by means of a book.
Nightmares can be caused by stress, so work on ways to relieve this and the nightmares should ease or may even disappear by themselves.