Whether you remember your dreams or not, they are part and parcel of your sleep. Everyone dreams for 4-6 times every night, and these dreams can occur during any stage of your sleeping cycle. They can be most vivid if they happen in your REM sleeping stage. You might wake up the following day from a happy dream feeling happy and well rested or a scary dream that will leave you on edge the whole day.
What are dreams?
Dreams are stories and images your mind creates in a state of consciousness that is characterized by your emotional, sensory, and cognitive occurrences while you’re asleep. You can experience vivid dreams which can be perfectly rational or confusing causing you to feel happy, sad, or scared. There are many theories why people dream, but nobody knows for sure why we dream. Some studies have shown that dreams are important for your well-being and health, and those who don’t dream tend to have difficulty in concentrating, lack coordination, have increased tension, weight gain, anxiety, depression, and get hallucinations.
Many experts believe that dreams are meant to help process emotions, solve problems in your life, and incorporate memories. Most people believe that if you have a problem and don’t seem to find a solution, you can sleep on it. When you wake up the following day you will have a solution and you will be feeling better about your situation.
Nightmares are normal and can linger into the next day
You can have positive or negative dreams and the occasional bad dream although upsetting isn’t a bad thing. Most of the time, you will feel the effects of a nightmare even after you wake up, and if you’re having frequent nightmares it could be because of stress or unresolved trauma. You can see a therapist who can help you manage your stress or get to the bottom of your traumatic event. It’s difficult to fall asleep once you’ve woken up from a nightmare, and the scary images you dreamt about can affect your behavior and mood the following day.
However, disturbing dreams don’t always change how much you sleep in the different stages in your sleep cycle or how many times you wake up. But, what dreams can change is the time it takes you to go back to sleep and how difficult it will be for your body to go from non-REM and REM stages in your sleep. This can leave you feeling not well rested.
Do happy dreams equal good sleep?
According to research, people who sleep well have joyful and pleasant dreams, while people with insomnia don’t have many positive emotions in their dreams. However, it’s not clear if having happy or sad dreams affects how you sleep. If most of the time you fall asleep you start dreaming immediately, you might be skipping some sleeping stages and going directly to the REM stage. This may be a sign you have a sleeping disorder that needs medical attention. And you don’t always have to have good dreams. Bizarre, confusing, or creepy dreams can help your brain sort out through the memories, reactions to different scenarios, and work out through challenging puzzles that you face every day in your life.
How to encourage good dreams
Keep a dream journal
Have a pen and a journal next to your bed so that you can be able to write down your dreams immediately you wake up the following morning. Take a few minutes every morning to write down or draw everything you can remember about your dreams, and note any changes in your life that might be happening. This will help you identify patterns in your dreams to help you realize when you’re dreaming. This way you will be able to remember your dreams more easily and their intensity will increase.
Get quality sleep
Getting a good night sleep means you sleep longer, get more REM sleep, and more lucid dreams that you can remember. This means you need to go to bed early and sleeping in a dark cool room with temperatures of between 60-67 degrees. Also, don’t forget that a good mattress is important. An old, saggy mattress will give you nightmares because your body will not be at a restful position. Lying on a comfortable and supportive mattress like the ones found at mattress firm will help your body and mind relax during the night. Then in the morning when you wake up, close your eyes and lie still and try and remember the dream you’ve just woken up from or the one you had during the night.
Increase your melatonin levels
The pineal gland in your brain is responsible for the production of melatonin which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It communicates with different parts of your body about your surrounding making it easier for you to fall asleep at night and be alert during the day. High levels of melatonin increase the quality of your dreams and the probability of having lucid dreams. By sleeping in a dark room, eating food that stimulates melatonin production, and sticking to your sleeping schedule, you can increase melatonin production in your body.
Change your sleeping position
Your sleeping position also influences the type of dreams you have during the night. If you sleep on your stomach, you’re more likely to have positive and wilder dreams. If you sleep on your right side, your dreams will be more positive and you won’t experience so many nightmares than if you slept on your left side. According to research, this has something to do with your breathing patterns in these positions.
Meditate before bed
You can meditate in a quiet, dark room for 5-10 minutes before going to bed or focus on your breathing. This can influence the types of dreams you have and replace nightmares with positive dreams. When you’re calm it’s much easier to remember your dreams.
What you dream about is mostly related to what is happening in your dailylife. Even though you can’t control what you dream about directly, there are ways you can improve your state of mind during the day. This will help to improve the quality of your dreams and even your sleep.