How do my dreams interact with my waking life?
The past century has witnessed a substantial progress in our understanding of dreams and dreaming. The development of various theories on the interpretation and meaning of dreams, as well as on the causes behind dreams and dreaming has translated into a rich knowledge base. We have thus become better equipped to understand the various functions of dreams. One of the areas where we have made substantial progress is with respect to the interaction between waking life and the dreaming state.
There are numerous studies which have conclusively shown that there are indeed clear relationships between waking life and dreams. These two states of consciousness interact with and affect one another in many different ways. Traumatic experiences which occur in one’s waking life, for example, can manifest themselves in dreams. In some instances, the repressed memories of these traumatic experiences may surface only in the dreaming state. In such cases, dreams are particularly valuable in the healing of one’s psyche or psychological well-being. Because dreams can often surface memories and conflicts that are hidden away from our waking life, these dreams provide a means by which these repressed experiences can be unearthed and properly addressed. The causes of some psychological disorders can even be uncovered through the documentation and interpretation of one’s dreams.
Aside from the importance of one’s dreams in the resolution of repressed conflicts and traumatic experiences, dreams may also function to guide us in the decisions that we are about to make in waking life. Some dreams are manifestations of the individual’s innermost desires and ambitions. Sometimes, it takes a persistently recurring dream for one to acknowledge such desires and ambitions and consequently, act on them.
Another form of interaction that can be readily observed between the dreaming and the waking state is the manner by which dreams can directly affect one’s emotions. A particularly strong example is in the case of nightmares. Although one may be well aware that nightmares are merely mental constructs, the effect of such nightmares are predominantly physical in nature; our hearts race faster, adrenaline levels surge, and our sweat glands secrete excessive amounts of sweat. In some extreme cases of recurrent nightmares, sleep deprivation can also occur leading to poorer performance in our waking tasks and functions.
The interaction between our waking life and our dreaming state continues to be extensively studied. One thing is for sure, though. Their relationship with one another runs a very deep course that we have yet only begun to uncover. With the extent by which many studies on dreams are being undertaken, we are certain to unveil and understand much, much more about this intriguing relationship.