Dreaming about honey means you’re about to be more
productive or prosperous. If you dream about your teeth falling out it means
you’re worried about money. But does it? Really?
And if not, do our dreams have any meaning? Or are they just
a random firing or neurons? And most of all, what do our dreams mean for our
Here’s what we know:
1. You won’t have decent dreams
unless you get enough sleep. We dream during the “rapid eye movement” or REM
stage in sleep, which is the last stage of the sleep cycle. On a typical night,
most of us go through four to six cycles of each of these stages of sleep. It
usually takes around 90 minutes of sleep before we reach REM sleep and start
2. Research shows that dreams are
good for our mental health. REM sleep helps with emotional regulation and helps
us process our experiences. Studies have found that people whose REM sleep was
disturbed had more problems dealing with emotional distress.
REM sleep is essential for our
mental function, especially for memory, learning, and creativity. During REM
sleep, our neurotransmitters are replenished and our brains are almost as
active as when we’re awake.
3. Your dreams can be a useful
problem-solving tool. Dr Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist and dream scholar at
Harvard Medical School, says dreaming is “our brain thinking in a different
Dr Barrett says our dreams can
indicate our emotional state. Many of us have had a dream about finding
ourselves naked or underdressed in a public situation, which can indicate we’re
feeling a sense of shame or social disapproval. Or then there’s that “test”
dream, where we dream of a big upcoming exam or audition, but something is
stopping us from getting there or doing it well.
According to Dr Barrett, this
indicates we’re worried about measuring up in some way.
4. Dreaming about scary stuff can be
a good thing. A 2019 study found that fear-ridden dreams helped us deal with
fear in real life. Participants wrote down their feelings when they woke up,
including whether they were afraid. They were then shown emotionally-jarring
images. Those who had scary dreams were more likely to respond to emotionally
stress in a healthier way.
However, if you’re having ongoing
nightmares about something that really happened to you, this could be a sign of
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and you should talk to your GP or seek
35 billion dreams
On average, we each have five dream episodes each night (or,
for shift workers, each time we sleep deeply).
Each episode generally goes for 15-40 minutes, which means
we each dream for around two hours each night.
With a global population of seven billion, that means we, as
humankind, are producing 35 billion dreams every 24 hours.
Interestingly, many of these dreams share common
These are the 10 most common dreams. How many have you had?
1. Being chased
2. Exams, tests or auditions (including not being
ready, not being able to get there)
4. Driving (including going too fast or out of
5. Teeth falling out
6. Can’t find the toilet
7. Being naked in public (particularly at school or
9. Seeing someone famous