I Dreamed A Dream...again...and again...


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I was walking through a field by my neighbor's house in the middle of summer.  I was dehydrated and exhausted, and my dog was walking beside me. I was probably about 300 yards from my neighbor's house, yet as I kept walking, I never seemed to get any closer. It seemed to be never-ending, going on for hours. The next thing I knew, I was laying in my bed, sweating, in my pajamas. This was one of my recurring childhood dreams, and it never got any less terrifying. Recurring dreams are a very common problem, but could there be a way to stop them? Scientists studied just that, and put together reports that look at whether or not dreams can be controlled.

            Remember that episode of SpongeBob where everyone's favorite porous cartoon ran around Bikini Bottom jumping into everyone else's dreams and, consequently, changing the "plot" of the dream? It turns out that isn't so far-fetched (the changing-the-dream part...not the whole jumping-into-other-people's-subconscious part).  In an article posted on Scientific American, assistant clinical psychology professor at Harvard, Deirdre Barrett explained that there are many different factors that play into if/how dreams can be controlled.

 

"...Whether you're trying to induce lucid dreams, whether you're trying to dream about particular content or whether you're trying to dream a solution to a particular personal or objective problem. Another really common application has been influencing nightmares, especially recurring post-traumatic nightmares--either to stop them or turn them into some sort of mastery dream."

                                    - Deirdre Barrett

She went on to explain that if you wish to solve a problem in a dream, AKA "sleep on it," you should simply think over the problem before bed; both logically and visually. To dream about a specific person, place, thing, etc....you'd follow basically the same path as for problem solving. Then, there's the interesting topic of changing recurring nightmares, usually from traumatic experiences; psychologists say that by simply envisioning and describing a different ending to the nightmare, one that makes you feel safe or less frightened. On the other hand, WebMD suggests that sticking to a constant pattern of sleeping at the same time each night will help reduce nightmares, as well as exercise and other means of stress-relief.

An image posted by Human Illnesses shows your brain activity while asleep, awake, and during REM, which is when most all dreams occur. As you can see, the brain is functioning much more during REM than other stages of sleep, and is more similar to the brain while it is awake. My hypothesis is that if you can influence, while awake, the same parts of your brain that are active during REM and while awake, it would be a link and would help to change the narrative path of a dream.

            Recurring dreams are awful, there's no doubt about that - whether it's walking through a never-ending field or something even worse, you want nothing more than to get rid of them. Now, with the help of the research of top psychologists, it appears fixing these problems are just a thought away.

6 Comments

So happy that you decided to post about dreams. I've always been a little curious as to if we could control them. Like you, I was suffering from a reoccurring nightmare a few years back. It would be on and off throughout the week, but lasted almost two months. Luckily I've never really experienced a super traumatic event, but my nightmare of being kidnapped a block away from my house was definitely making me feel like I had. Thankfully I one, grew out of that stage and two, was never kidnapped!
As for controlling dreams, I definitely think that's possible. Just last week, right before bed, my roommate and I were gushing over my crush. He was the last thing on my mind before shutting my eyes and later played the starring role in my dream. I can't complain. Therefore I'll be thinking of him more often!!
Great topic for discussion!

This blog was so cool! I always wondered about dreams and what they really mean. It's kind of crazy to think that people have put time and research into finding out what dreams mean and why we dream what we do. I think that's so interesting. I know that I have tried to lay down at night and continue a dream from the night before. I wonder with the theories you have explained if that's possible to do. I also am interested in nightmares. Why do we have them? How can we prevent them? Here's an article I found on Huffington Post about nightmares! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/09/nightmare-causes-sleep_n_2585002.html

I love to learn more about dreaming so thank you for posting about it! I myself have had quite a history with dreaming. Last summer I woke up my whole house screaming because I was having a dream that I was stuck in a box that was getting smaller and smaller. When I finally woke up from this dream I found out that I had been sleep walking in my room and had rearranged my furniture. I have a 5 inch scar on my back to prove it too...

Also, touching on lucid dreaming, I have a friend that claims he can lucid dream whenever he wants and apparently it is possible. If you're interested I found a website that has instructions, http://www.wikihow.com/Lucid-Dream. Im not going to try it because after my history with dreams I don't like to mess around with them hahaha.

Nice piece!! I have struggled with lucid dreams and sleep paralysis since childhood. Sometimes, they get so real that I can smell and feel events taking place in those dreams. On some of these occasions, I feel brain activities right before I'm fully conscious. I take a much different approach of controlling them by focusing on my state of mood a few hours before I sleep. Lucid dreaming is very interesting and I personally believe further discoveries in this field of science would lead directly to concrete understanding of how the mind works. Here is a link explaining activities in the frontal lobe during lucid dreams and nightmares http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dream-catcher/201207/lucid-dreaming-and-lucid-nightmares.

I wish I could've read this about ten years ago when I had a reoccurring night mare when I was little. I've always tried to think of stuff before sleeping and it's never really worked out for me. But, seeing that you have to actually visually think of the dream becoming a reality is something I know I never tried doing. This was a really good topic because there's millions of questions about our dreams! Here's a link to a page I found on "lucid dreaming" (knowing you're dreaming during the dream) that's pretty cool
http://www.lucidity.com/LucidDreamingFAQ2.html#LD

I'm glad someone else also had a reoccurring dream. I used to have one where I was running from aliens that came out of my parents bathroom. I had this dream at least 7 times and each time it was harder to get away. I haven't had it in a long time, but if I do I'll keep the method of thinking about it logically before bed in mind. Here is an article with more information on reoccurring dreams http://www.dreammoods.com/dreaminformation/dreamtypes/recurringdreams.htm

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