Dreams are like books. They transport you to a new world with beautiful landscapes, inconceivable scenarios, and ultimately have meanings and implications beyond immediate recognition. 

Unlike reading, dreaming doesn’t take any effort on our part as it happens subconsciously. 

Dreaming is not essential for survival but helpful in our development and evolution. By interpreting our dreams, we are better equipped to process our emotions.

I’ve always had a knack for remembering my dreams in the morning. One of my 2022 New Year’s resolutions is to keep a dream journal to analyze my dreams. 

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in my quest of discernment. 

There are five phases in a sleep cycle and dreams only take place in the fifth stage. 

Stage 1. The first stage is characterized by a light sleep as you’re still somewhat conscious of activities or noises surrounding you. This stage accounts for 4-5% of our overall sleep.

Stage 2. In this stage, you are fully unconscious. Your body temperature begins to decrease, your heart rate stabilizes, and eye movement is minimal. You are in this stage 45-55% of the time. 

Stage 3. In the third stage, you enter a deep slumber. Very slow brain waves, known as delta waves, appear with only short bursts of activity throughout. This forms 4-6% of total sleep. 

Stage 4. In this stage, the brain primarily forms delta waves. There is no eye or muscle movement and it is difficult to wake up from this kind of sleep. This is 12-15%. 

Stage 5. This stage is known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, eyes move rapidly behind eyelids, and limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. In this stage, dreaming takes place. This accounts for 20-25% of total sleep. 

These five stages cycle throughout the night with most people dreaming 4 to 6 times. 

Typically, 50% of the dream is lost within the first 5 minutes of waking up. This increases to 90% after 10 minutes. There is no clear answer as to why dreams are hard to recall as researchers continue to study this question. 

Interpreting dreams is a useful skill that can help you process your emotions. 

By waking up naturally, as opposed to a screeching alarm clock, writing down every part of the dream that remains in your memory as soon as you wake up, and making it a habit to recall your dreams every morning, you’ll be able to remember the important aspects of the dream and study their implications. 

There’s no step by step process for dream interpretation. Dreams can only be analyzed in the larger context of your lives, meaning you are the best equipped to analyze your own dreams. 

By consulting books and online resources that delve into common dream themes, you can find the connections that link your conscious to your subconscious. 

Two books that helped me get started are A Very Short Introduction to Dreaming by J Allen Hobson which expands upon the science of dreaming and The Curious Dreamer’s Practical Guide to Dream Interpretation by Nancy Wagaman which offers tactics that can be used to interpret dreams. 

One more tip before you start. Remember not to take dream discretion too seriously. Our minds have vivid imaginations and not everything that occurs in our subconscious should be taken literally. 

With that said, grab a pillow and lull yourself to sleep. It’s time to interpret dreams!