For the night is dark and full of fiction

It’s been a very long time between posts on my dreaming interpretation blog. I have written quite a bit of poetry over at my other blog ( though, so if you feel like some poems / fiction sometimes inspired by dreams head over there.

My counsellor asked me the other day how common it is to have dreams influenced by popular culture. I.e. Game of Thrones (title for the reference).

Again, and again I come back to these sorts of questions “how common is it?” Well no one knows for sure. The complete lack of properly done, authorative peer-reviewed statistics on dreams is clearly the biggest issue. It’s probably also really hard to do. New “Apps” such as SHADOW and the like try to help, but either fail the ethics test so hard it’s not funny or are clearly not independent of commercialism, lack basic privacy tests or even worse contain upfront bias. The good stats on “commonality” of dreams are a long way off.

Being the massive cynic I am, it’s probably better just to answer “generally it’s very common”.

Putting aside any other inputs, fiction is a pretty big one, and readings, watching, listening to fiction will make it appear in your dreams. Your brain will use fiction to create dreams. Why? Well from my theory of the evolution of dreams, animals started dreaming because it was a safe way to practice hunting or surviving when you had this otherwise useless downtime. The creatures that got creative with this and used it to help them work out problems as well did even better. Sure enough with enough evolution stories would replay in dreams pretty easily as you could use the lessons from the stories as learning. It would help imprint the lesson into your memory and make it even more useful to you. It helped a lot if you could relate to the story.

This is why stories that show even pretty nasty aspects of humanity like Game of Thrones will be replayed in our minds. We can relate to the characters, even the nasty ones. We can learn what they learn and work out how to do better. So that’s why fiction replays happen in our dreams very commonly.

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A reality of dreams

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

The journal Sleep has an interesting study on how people with narcolepsy can experience sometimes striking confusions between what they’ve dreamed and what’s actually happened.

Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation.

The result is that affected people are not able to properly regulate sleep cycles meaning they can fall asleep unexpectedly, sometimes multiple times, during the day.

One effect of this is that the boundary between dreaming and everyday life can become a little bit blurred and a new study by sleep psychologist Erin Wamsley aimed to see how often this occurs and what happens when it does.

Some of the reports of are quite spectacular:

One man, after dreaming that a young girl had drowned in a nearby lake, asked his wife to turn on the local news in full expectation that the event would…

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How sleep makes your mind more creative

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

It’s a tried and tested technique used by writers and poets, but can psychology explain why first moments after waking can be among our most imaginative?

It is 6.06am and I’m typing this in my pyjamas. I awoke at 6.04am, walked from the bedroom to the study, switched on my computer and got to work immediately. This is unusual behaviour for me. However, it’s a tried and tested technique for enhancing creativity, long used by writers, poets and others, including the inventor Benjamin Franklin. And psychology research appears to back this up, providing an explanation for why we might be at our most creative when our minds are still emerging from the realm of sleep.

The best evidence we have of our mental state when we’re asleep is that strange phenomenon called dreaming. Much remains unknown about dreams, but one thing that is certain is that they are weird. Also…

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List of reality checks

1. Try to draw a yellow circle on your hand. Do three circles on your palm or the back of your hand. Do a circle in the air or on any surface. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

2. Pinch your nose as you try to breathe in. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

3. Pick a spot in your line of sight not right in front of you, look at that spot then any other place taking note of its color and shape. Look back at the first spot. Look back again and say “I am in reality” (note needs to be inside a car/bus/etc if on the move).

4. Pinch yourself. If it hurts say “I am in reality”.

Others to be added as I hear of them.

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Sex dreams

Christmas gets me the usual and annoying Turkey Dreams questions ( and then just after that it seems people ask me sex dream questions. Having not actually talked about sex dreams ever here, I thought it was time.

The reasoning behind sex dreams is easy, we in general as species desire sex. There are some whom do not desire sex, and as a consequence may not have any sex dreams.

Some dreams about sex are great. Fun. Happy. It’s also good practice for our mind when we get the real thing. Sex dreams often start to occur in the teenage years, before we generally have it. Please note these are general terms.

Having sex dreams is perfectly normal for all genders and sexualities. They also may step us out of our usual genders and sexualities. The normality of this is unknown. If your worried about your dreams about sex being normal a counsellor or psychologist would be a good place to seek help. (please, please do not send me your sex dreams asking if they are normal )

The basic gist is we are sexual beings. Having sex, seeing sex, being sexual in dreams is a normal thing.

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Dream work holidays

Can you take a dreamwork holiday?

Well yes. You can both have a holiday where you do a lot of dreamwork and take a holiday from dreamwork. Both are quite useful. Especially for certain periods in life, such as moving house, having a newborn, new stresses, changes to routine, going on holiday clearly is one as well.

I find taking a holiday and working on dreamwork during it is quite helpful. Be aware however that dreams on holiday will be influenced by it. I.e. A trip to the beach will trigger beach dreams. Sleep is also different on holiday. We have less work and less stress and therefore more likelihood of positive dreams and more likelihood of oversleep and thus may remember more dreams as we are in REM for longer.

I do a few things to help recall on both a dreaming holiday and when I take a break from doing dreamwork. Firstly I change my current recall routine, and I change my reality check. I also start new pages in my journals and create a new chapter if need be.

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Creating a dream dictionary

We have all a different interpretation of our universe. We all have different experience of things. Fears. Desires. Memories. Associations. So why do we find solace in a dream dictionary that at best glibly applies some sort of quasi psychological generic cold reading in text form and at worst is a bunch of mindless crap that will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

There is also a known fact that one dream about say teeth falling out would be about having to much stress. Another may be about a fear of your teeth falling out. Another in which afterwards you turn into a fish might be about something totally unrelated to the teeth it, which is just a memory.

How do we know which is which?

The answer is that we are the best ones to interpret dreams ourselves. This means we are the ones who should build our own dream dictionary.

How do we do it?

Well there are “Apps” for that, both. Android and iPhone. For those whom wish not to store meanings on dreams on a electronic device, you can also use pen and paper, a notebook, anything you can write on and easily edit or modify as you go on.

There is obviously more than one method of doing this but my method is to write my dreams down in a dream journal. Then from that I write a reference to the dreams themes in my dream dictionary. I.e. Last night I dreamt about a stormy night in which I had to walk to a homestead in after my car broke down. I didn’t feel bad or good about it, so I marked the emotion as neither positive or negative. A reference for this went into the entry for storms, broken down cars, dirt roads, night and walking. When I next dream I do this again. I keep doing this till I have a large amount of dreams in the dictionary and I can put down what each thing generally means in my dreams. I.e. Night might have ten entries with six positive, three not positive or negative, one negative. I then will create a entry for “night” that says “night is in general a more positive thing for me and usually also involves roads or travel”. This gets more and more useful as time goes on and has much more meaning than standard dream dictionaries.

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