The Dreams We Dream At Night

| June 1, 2022

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with dreams. I dream every single night. My dreams are in color and often involve some body of water. When my kids were little and woke up in the mornings or from naps I would say “Hey!! Did you sleep well? Did you have any dreams?” I love hearing about the crazy things their minds showed them. 

Are My Dreams Normal?

Do you dream at night? I wondered if my dreaming was normal so I asked several friends about their dreaming. Answers were varied but all are interesting. If I had to sum it up I would say there is no normal standard for the dreams we dream at night so don’t worry if you can’t relate! 

Many reported they dream in color but some could not say if they did or not. Dreams of flying and dreams with loved ones who passed away were happy dreams. Many reported that they dreamt often but it was just too crazy to understand it all. Stressful dreams of not being ready for a test at school (even though they have been done with school for years), teeth falling out, arriving somewhere with no clothes on, or about snakes were shared by many. 

Several of my friends reported the joy of seeing loved ones in dreams that have passed on. Sometimes this occurred even shortly before they passed. These dreams brought closure and joy to them. I know whenever I dream of my grandmother it makes me feel happy when I wake up even though the dreams are more of memories of her in my life and not a “visit” from her currently. 

As far as prophetic dreams go, as a person of faith, I know there are accounts in the Bible of God speaking to people through dreams so I believe it is possible. I myself have not had prophetic dreams of the future ever, but I have dreamt of people and places that were seeds of past pain and when I awoke I felt more peace about those situations, and they no longer held as much stress for me. 

I was once on a mission trip and visiting a rural village in Guatemala. We knocked on the door of one family and the wife answered. She said “Oh you are the Americans here to tell us about Jesus! I dreamt you would come after I prayed for someone to share the gospel with my husband.” Then we were invited in and did exactly that. There was no previous publicity of our team coming and her house was assigned to us at random. I don’t have any words to explain that any further except “wow.” 

I can’t answer the question “Are my dreams normal?” and I don’t believe anyone can but I did a little research into the science behind the dreams we dream at night and have shared it below. It may help you make sense of some dreams. 

Why Do We Forget Our Dreams?

Many people report not being able to remember their dreams unless it is an extremely happy or upsetting one or they remember them for a while and then can’t recall them later that day. I remember reading a wives tale when I was younger that said “It’s bad luck to talk about your dreams before breakfast.” I don’t know about the bad luck part but waiting to eat breakfast gives our brains more time to forget our dreams and there is science behind this. The science is very deep but in simple terms, dreams are not able to be stored in the hippocampus of our brains therefore we forget them more easily. 

Why Do We Dream?

Dreaming primarily occurs during REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. Your eyes dart around under your closed eyelids and seem to be gathering information but of course, they are not. Our bodies cycle between periods of REM sleep and Non-REM sleep throughout the night. Even though you may feel like a dream lasted forever REM sleep periods happen in increments, the first being about 10 minutes and the last up to an hour. 

There are many theories about why we dream at night, but obviously, we are still learning about the intricacies of the human brain. One theory is that we are processing all the information we received during our waking hours. I think we can all relate to this in some form or another.

A lot of the information our brain receives is chaotic information hence our dreams may seem that way too. This processing of information rings true to me because I have on many occasions woken up in the middle of the night and remembered where I left my wallet, keys, or another important item that I was searching for the previous day. Anecdotal of course, but applicable at least to me. 

Another reason we dream is our body processing emotions. It is no secret that those that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder have nightmares about their experiences. Dreams are thought to be the manifestation of our emotions in a visual form. Any and all of the feelings you feel can be brought to life in our dreams. This can be bad as in nightmares or wonderful during times of excitement and positive feelings. 

Dreams can also be influenced by medicines and the foods we eat. In 2018, Burger King released a “Nightmare King Burger” that featured a green bun. It was a Halloween-themed burger and Burger King even claimed that it would induce nightmares. They tested it among 100 people for 10 nights and found nightmares were reported 3.5 times more than usual. The protein and cheese led to vivid dreams. I know if I ate something with a green-dyed bun and that heavy each night for 10 nights I would not sleep well myself. There is also the power of suggestion at play. 

The bottom line is that if we are stressed (good stress or bad stress), taking certain medicines or supplements, and our diet can all affect the dreams we dream at night. Dreams come in all varieties and while some may help us make sense of life around us, many are just a combination of lots of input we have received. Enjoy the good dreams, let go of the bad dreams, and know that dreaming is one of the strange and somewhat unexplainable things about the amazing human brain. 

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