When it comes to dreaming, there's way more to it than just waking up a bit dazed and confused. Dreaming is a way for the mind to indulge in creativity and take a step outwards from reality, in a way to assess true desires, needs, and goals relative to life.
"We dream for about 2 hours a night, when we enter REM sleep—the stage of sleep associated with rapid eye movement, increased respiratory rate, reduced muscle tone, and heightened brain activity," says Dr. Robert Glatter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital.
There are 5 stages of sleep: 1-4 and then REM sleep. "We cycle through these stages of sleep throughout the night. A complete sleep cycle lasts from 90-110 minutes, with each stage lasting 5-15 minutes," he says.
Yet, don't be surprised if you keep getting the same dreams over again, and your best bud reported to have the same one. "While dreams can be complex, and have variable meanings, people often report having similar types of dreams. These shared types of images suggest that dreams are part of the way humanity deals with the complexities of daily life, as our brains rest and recharge for the next day," he says.
There are 6 common sex dreams you might have, and yes, they are totally normal.
"Sex dreams often reflect and reveal a deeper connection between yourself and your partner, as well as other persons in your life that you may have concealed sexual feelings and desires about that may occasionally surface," he says.
Yet, they may also just serve as an outlet for sexual feelings by expressing desires and new details about our current partners, he says. It could also mean you're longing for something sexually that you can't get right now. Perhaps more intimacy? More intensity? A better connection?
While falling in dreams can be frightening, there may be some positives regarding this dream's true meaning, based on the speed and degree of control of how you fall. "If you fall slowly in a dream, it can indicate release of emotions, inner peace, and confidence in pending or recent life situations and decisions," he says.
Yet, falling in a rapid or unsteady manner can be a sign of feeling out of control in our daily lives, he says. In this case, re-evaluate what might be going on in your life that could be causing stress.
"Flying high in the clouds represents the degree of control we feel in our lives, and whether we are able to reach our goals," he says.
Flying high or low are common dreams: "flying high can signify feeling free and unfettered, while flying low with barriers and other obstacles can indicate exasperation and frustration with our current life situation," he says.
This is one of the most common dreams, says Glatter. "It's often reflective of something we see avoiding or shying away from in our lives. Intense anxiety is often associated with these type of dreams, and a key reason we often remember them as we awaken," he says.
The dream can be a reminder that we need to devote more attention to a particular person or situation in our lives. Re-evaluate what is missing or where you should focus your energy on to find relief.
Seeing Other People
"Seeing other people in your dreams may reflect unconscious thoughts or feelings about that other person, and either an affirmation or an effort to understand why they aren't having a positive effect in your life at present," he says.
"Dreams about a lover or someone you have romantic or sexual feelings for is a way to more deeply understand how you fit together, as well as an inner reflection of your deepest feelings," he says. It also may reflect an aspect of detachment, where you are trying to work though the obstacle and find a connection.
"Water and it's quality—cloudy, clear or rough-can symbolize our emotions unconsciously," he says. "This dream can be a barometer on how well we are in control of our emotions, and your ability to balance the variety of emotions in your life at the present time," he says. Think about what you're doing in the water. Are you underwater and scared? Are you floated and relaxed?