A face, a stranger, an object, a place, a scenario. We often experience dreams in meanders and remember only odds and ends when we awaken, if at all. They’re usually too fragmented to sound coherent, with too few clues to piece together a full picture.
While traces of reality sometimes get woven in here and there, our dreams are usually veiled in a blanket of mental clutter. Naturally, this makes it hard for the waking person to decipher dreams. If we’re blessed, our dreams project a reenactment of a fond memory. But most times, we wake up confused why our reveries play out surrealist narratives. A giant Halloween pumpkin chasing you down a Balinese rice field? Welcome to the symbolic language of dreams – even pigs may fly.
All About Dreams
For as long as time, we’ve been enchanted by the enigma of dreams and gripped by the fascination to interpret them. On a personal level, we reflect on nocturnal projections as intimate experiences. Except, dreams extend beyond the personal realm – it influences the collective, too.
The ancients honoured dreams as communication with the other. Whether it’s with gods, wiser spirits or their ancestors, it was a sacred duty to record symbols, themes and dream meanings. Without surprise, dream-related professions were held only by well-respected, spiritual members of the community. Some cultures even practised incubation, where oracles would sleep on consecrated grounds and await divine inspiration or guidance through dreams.
Over the turn of the late-19th and 20th century, the spirituality behind dream interpretation took a backseat for science. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung paved the way for our contemporary understanding of dreams with their theories. Freud, for example, believed that dreams were connected to repressed desires – so whatever we felt we couldn’t express in reality, we project in dreams. In his universe, dreams are where we’re most unabashedly ourselves because we’re free from societal standards. On the other hand, Jung theorised dreams can be interpreted through different lenses and it differs from person to person. What mattered more to Jung was the symbolism. No matter whose side you gravitate towards, both men agreed dreams told us more about ourselves than our reality ever could.
Common Dream Meanings
Before we delve into interpreting common dream meanings, we’ve got to burst your bubble: not all dreams are symbolic or a message from the divine. While that strange dream about blissful cows grazing pasture may be telling, the one about you shopping for next season’s most-coveted handbag may not. When it comes to deciphering dreams – and which to forgo, trust your intuition.
Dreaming about death can be morbid, but don’t let it disturb your peace – it doesn’t always foretell an actual event. Remember the golden language of dreams is metaphoric. Dreams with death usually symbolise a change. Perhaps you’ve just changed jobs, shifted homes or moved on from a bad relationship – they usually just mean the demise or the end of something instead of someone.
Dreams about pregnancy are pretty common. It happens more to women, but men can also dream about the pregnancy of their partners, loved ones or complete strangers (read under ‘About Someone’). Pregnancy symbolises birth, a fresh start and suggests development and things taking form. All pregnancy and new endeavours require some effort to nurture it to life. Mostly, it’s just a positive sign that you’re experiencing growth and progress in life. Rarely does it literally mean you’re pregnant or going to be – but never say never. Consider what you’ve been going through or expecting to go through in recent days and weeks, and revisit the context of your dreams. Reflection may bring deeper understanding.
Houses are interesting as they’re the quintessential portrayal of the abstract language of dreams. Beneath your subconscious, the house or building represents your inner psyche or head-space. Each room or storey can symbolise different parts of you. Whether it’s your various selves, stages in life or memories of events, they mirror aspects of your personality you’ve compartmentalised.
If you’ve watched Inception, you might decipher this better, but dreaming about someone you may or may not know have little to do with them, and more to do with you. Dreams about people reflect your perspective. Perhaps the person’s name is symbolic and has a message for you? Or maybe you recognise a certain trait in this person’s character that you could emulate in recent events that unfolded in your life. Consider the dream context and contrast it to your reality. What can you learn from this familiar stranger?
About Flying & Falling
Flying dreams often represent a desire for more freedom; to not be caged. Perhaps you’ve felt bolted down at work or in life lately, and are ready to break free and soar high. On the flip-side, dreams about falling are related to your anxieties about losing control. Loosen your grip, ground yourself, and just let go.
About Losing Teeth
Dreaming of losing your teeth may reveal an underlying fear of getting old or being unattractive to the opposite gender. It could also mean you’re stressed out in reality or focus too much on your flaws. Maybe your confidence has really taken a hit recently, and your morale is down to the gutters. Take a minute to recalibrate your emotional well-being when you awaken, and try to have more positivity in life.
How to Have Better Dreams
As we grow older, we tend to struggle more with insomnia or other sleep disorders. Perhaps the burdens of adulting stress us out too much for us to properly unwind by bedtime. We’re all too familiar with lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, willing our whirring minds to please. just. stop. Ceiling lines and cracks? We’ll draw you an atlas of ours.
So what’s the secret to waking up well-rested and happy – and with sweet dreams to recount, if that’s not all too much to ask for?
Prep Your Space
Cleanliness: Bedrooms are our most intimate spaces where dreams take flight and our bodies regenerate. Make effort to keep it conducive for sleep. Remember how Marie Kondo takes a moment to greet every space before overhauling them? With the same respect, treat sleeping nooks as living spaces. It’s said they reflect our inner states, after all. And if you like, spend some time cleaning out your bedroom. It’s a complete work-out on its own and we promise you’ll hit the hay right after.
Lighting & Temperature: Black-out curtains are cool but sleeping eye masks are the way forward. If you prefer sleeping in a dim ambience, this night light gives off a warm, amber glow that gently eases you to sleep. Also, our core temperature drops when we snooze, so keep the room at 18ºC to 21ºC optimally. It’s even said we dream better when in a colder room.
Prep Your Mind & Body
Self-Care & Aromatherapy: For a total chill-out, indulge in your senses. An exfoliating facial or massage is great, but doing it with aromatherapy really induces sleepy times. Our senses connect us to our primordial selves, so create a nightly ritual that invites you to melt your worries and fears away. Aside from candles and incenses – which aren’t safe to leave lit as you sleep, aroma diffusers allow you to customise scents according to your mood or ailment for a truly restorative slumber.
Focus & Breathing Techniques: Instant relaxation begins when you focus your mind in the present and connect with your breath. Do it like infants do – breathe in nice and deep through your belly, and hold it for three seconds before exhaling through your mouth for five seconds. Visualise good vibes as you inhale and let out all the negativity when you exhale. Regular practices will train your mind to concentrate on the here and now for undisturbed sleep.
Sleep Meditation & Soundscapes: Or yoga nidra, is a relaxation tool passed down from the ancients. It includes a 10-step routine which sounds like a lot, but feel free to personalise it. It consists of mini exercises such as meditation, intention-setting, and self-observation. The goal is to calm the erratic mind and encourage sleep. We love Insight Timer for guided meditations – there are also soundscapes if you prefer those.
Visualisation: We’ve all got our happy places. Before you sleep, visualise it and spend some time there. It hones the childlike quality innate in all of us, and stimulates the release of serotonin – the happy hormone. It helps override stress and chart positive thought patterns so we become happier, shinier people over time. Why not try stargazing as well? It’s a beautiful practice (even in well-lit Singapore) because “there are fragments of stars within all of us” – what’s out there is deep within too. Such a dreamy sentiment, isn’t it?
See You on Cloud Nine
To sleep is to dream. But unlike dreams that are abstract, getting a good night’s sleep should be an uncomplicated affair – just get yourself a good, comfortable mattress. After all, mattresses are like launch pads that ignite our thousand dreams. But then that can be said of all mattresses, good and bad.
A better mattress, though, is closely-linked to living a better life in and out of bed. It promotes deep, restorative sleep that greatly improves physical and mental well-being. Not to mention, it also encourages creativity and more vivid dreams. And at the end of a long, hard day, a better mattress will restore your faith in humanity. It’s even said people who dream more live longer lives.
At IUIGA, we take our dreams seriously – in life and during sleep. Designed for optimal back support in total cloud nine comfort, our Seventh Heaven Memory Foam Mattress don’t just offer extraordinary pressure relief to joints, it also trains your body to have correct spinal alignment through precision support as you sleep. Talk about a mattress that works hard for you – and all you have to do is just sleep on it.
When in use, the multiple layers of supportive foam and resilient spring core melds to the natural curvature of your back for a closer fit and more personalised experience. On this note, we’ve really got your back.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on dreams and sleep. If you’d like to read more about this topic (or others), let us know in the comments – we’ll love to hear from you.
You may also like these interesting reads:
- Perks of Being a Woman: Why Women May Stand to Gain More From Mindfulness Meditation
- Mindful Productivity 101: How to be Massively Productive at Work
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