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Could Your Dream About Work Last Night Be An Indicator Of Stress

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Ever wondered what your subconscious is trying to tell you when you dream, and if you have the same dreams as other people?

Well, a new study from online bed specialists, Bed SOS, has decoded the nation’s sleep ‘stories’ with help from a renowned dream expert, Dr. Keith M. T. Hearne.

The study with 2,000 UK adults revealed the nation’s ten most common dreams are:

  1. Having sex (48% have dreamt about this)
  2. Falling (45%)
  3. Being chased (37%)
  4. Teeth falling out or crumbling (26%)
  5. Being at work (25%)
  6. Being late (23%)
  7. Flying (22%)
  8. Meeting a celebrity (21%)
  9. Being cheated on (20%)
  10. Demons or monsters – nightmares (18%)

Interesting, 1 in 25 men (4%) have dreamed about being pregnant.

Men are also more likely to dream about sex than women (53% versus 44%) and flying (28% versus 18%), whereas women are more likely to dream about falling (48% versus 41% of men) and their teeth falling out (31% versus 18%).

Dr Keith M. T. Hearne, a British psychologist who conducted the world’s first sleep-lab research into lucid dreams, explains: “Dreams, especially those that wake you suddenly, are probably best understood – not literally – but as symbolic messages, and verbal puns, from your wise unconscious.

The emotion left on waking is probably the best indicator of whether the dream portrayed something good or bad.”

He also explained the deeper meanings behind common dreams:

1. Sex dreams (48% dream this)

An example: A dream of sex with someone inappropriate (e.g. a work colleague):

It is not unusual for human beings to be attracted to each other.  In the generally friendly long-term situation of a work-place, little fantasies and flirtations often occur.

Most dreams are about our daily lives, and in REM (dreaming) sleep, a main feature is that males have a full erection, and women experience clitoral engorgement, so any friction can trigger such a dream.

Freud would have said that a part of our personality (the Id) which seeks basic gratification, would be responsible. In dreams it is safe to happen and can remain unspoken.

2. Falling (45% have had this dream)

This can cover several different scenarios, and often seems to come up as a linguistic pun. The word ‘fall’ is used in several contexts in everyday life.

It may appear either as a wish (for example to fall in love, or to fall pregnant), or refer to a negative event (say, to fall out with someone, to decline or fail in some way).

Recall what was happening in the dream, and the characters present, to uncover the probable topic.

3. Teeth falling out or crumbling (26% have dreamt about this)

Apart from direct warnings from the unconscious of poor dental care, this dream may be interpreted as a warning that time is passing, and important things need to be done in life, or that you are embarrassed over something insensitive you’ve said to someone else.

4. Being at work (25% have dreamt about this)

Most reported dreams are about ordinary daily situations, so in the two hours or so of dreaming each night it is not surprising to find yourself at work – especially if you actually enjoy your job – or carry work-stress home.

5. Being late (23% have dreamt about this)

This is a common term in waking life for missing an opportunity. In dreams it can be visually and dramatically displayed. Perhaps your unconscious is chiding you for your laziness.

6. Flying (22% have dreamt about this)

This is a well-known metaphor for doing well in life and progressing with ease. Such a positive theme can ‘make your day’ and be encouraging for even more success.

7. Dream of being cheated on by your partner (20% have had this dream):

Sometimes such a dream is indicating to the dreamer that cheating is indeed happening.

The subconscious is sensitive to subtle clues (e.g. pheromones) that go unnoticed consciously, and the dream is just about the only channel of the communication to consciousness. But equally, a person who is lacking in trust may project that issue into their relationship.

If the dream occurs in each relationship, the cause is more likely to be the latter.

8. Nightmares e.g. demons / monsters (18% dreamt this)

These are feared by most people, but in fact they present a wonderful portal for experiencing ‘lucid’ (conscious, controllable) dreams. Nightmares usually have the same sequence of events.

At some point in the dream, the thought occurs ‘Oh, here’s the nightmare’ – which unfortunately has the effect of releasing the full nightmare.

You can however convert it into a lucid dream, using the main ‘law’ of all dreaming – that what you think, you will then dream.

The technique is to change the mind set from ‘Oh, no! – here’s the nightmare’ to ‘Great, wonderful, here’s the nightmare. That means I’m dreaming, and I can control my dreams’.

Rehearse the words several times a day. Subsequently, when you find yourself in a dream and the scenery leading to the nightmare, think those magic thoughts. Feel confident.

If you are being chased by monsters, stop and face then, and zap them with ‘laser beams’ from your fingers. Then, ‘close your (dream) eyes’ and WILL yourself to a pleasant location, e.g. ‘I wish now to go to a beautiful island’.

It is a good way of establishing dream lucidity – an amazing state where you can conjure up any situation, merely by thought.

Danny Richmond, Managing Director of Bed SOS said: “We all hope for a restful night’s sleep, and the environment we’re in – a cool, quiet room and a comfortable bed for example – can have a big impact on the duration and quality of our sleep.

“Most people dream, but it can be a bit unnerving if you don’t know the meaning behind your sleep ‘stories’.

“Hopefully our research with Dr. Hearne will help put the nation’s conscious and subconscious minds at ease!”