“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write…” — lyrics from “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” composed in 1942 by Irving Berlin (1888-1989), famous and prolific American composer and lyricist.
With only a few more days until Thanksgiving is here, I’m already thinking about starting on my Christmas card project that takes me several hours to complete every year. Also, since I live in a southern state where snow is a very, very rare occurrence, dreaming of a white Christmas is more of a pipe dream then anything else. Irving Berlin’s very famous song published in 1942 titled, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” is good if you live in an area where it snows in the winter, or plan to travel there for Christmas; however, I’d rather dream about having a “bright” Christmas which isn’t dependent on snow… 🙂
And speaking of dreams, I rarely remember most of the dreams that I dream, and those that I do remember are very few and very far between. Research shows that everybody dreams every night whether they remember their dreams or not according to an article published on VeryWellMind.com on October 7, 2019, titled, “10 Interesting Facts About Dreams,“ by Kendra Cherry, Educational Consultant, author, and speaker; and medically reviewed by Claudia Chaves, M.D., Associate Professor at Tufts Medical School, and Medical Director at Lahey Clinic Multiple Sclerosis Center. Here is that article:
Dreams can be fascinating, exciting, terrifying, or just plain weird. While there is no clear consensus on why we dream, researchers have learned quite a bit about what happens while we are dreaming. Here are 10 things you should know about dreams.
Adults and babies alike dream for around two hours per night—even those of us who claim not to. In fact, researchers have found that people usually have several dreams each night, each one typically lasting for between five to 20 minutes.
During a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming.
You Forget Most of Your Dreams
As much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. According to one theory about why dreams are so difficult to remember, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place.
Brain scans of sleeping individuals have shown that the frontal lobes—the area that plays a key role in memory formation—are inactive during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage in which dreaming occurs.
Not All Dreams Are in Color
While most people report dreaming in color, there is a small percentage of people who claim to only dream in black and white. In studies where dreamers have been awakened and asked to select colors from a chart that match those in their dreams, soft pastel colors are those most frequently chosen.
Men and Women Dream Differently
Researchers have found some differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams. In several studies, men reported dreaming about weapons significantly more often than women did, while women dreamed about references to clothing more often than men.
Another study showed that men’s dreams tend to have more aggressive content and physical activity, while women’s dreams contain more rejection and exclusion, as well as more conversation than physical activity.
Women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters. When it comes to the characters that typically appear in dreams, men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.
Animals Probably Dream
Many think that when a sleeping dog wags its tail or moves its legs, it is dreaming. While it’s hard to say for sure whether this is truly the case, researchers believe that it’s likely that animals do indeed dream.
Just like humans, animals go through sleep stages that include cycles of REM and non-REM sleep.
It’s Possible to Control Your Dreams
A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming even though you’re still asleep. Lucid dreaming is thought to be a combination state of both consciousness and REM sleep, during which you can often direct or control the dream content.
Approximately half of all people can remember experiencing at least one instance of lucid dreaming, and some individuals are able to have lucid dreams quite frequently.
Negative Emotions Are More Common
Over a period of more than 40 years, researcher Calvin S. Hall, PhD, collected over 50,000 dream accounts from college students. These reports were made available to the public during the 1990s by Hall’s student William Domhoff.
The dream accounts revealed that many emotions are experienced during dreams.
The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety, and negative emotions, in general, are much more common than positive ones.
Blind People May Dream Visually
In one study of people who have been blind since birth, researchers found that they still seemed to experience visual imagery in their dreams, and they also had eye movements that correlated to visual dream recall.
Although their eye movements were fewer during REM than the sighted participants of the study, the blind participants reported the same dream sensations, including visual content.
You Are Paralyzed During Your Dreams
REM sleep is characterized by paralysis of the voluntary muscles. The phenomenon is known as REM atonia and prevents you from acting out your dreams while you’re asleep. Basically, because motor neurons are not stimulated, your body does not move.
In some cases, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as 10 minutes, a condition known as sleep paralysis.
While the experience can be frightening, experts advise that it is perfectly normal and should last only a few minutes before normal muscle control returns.
Many Dreams Are Universal
While dreams are often heavily influenced by our personal experiences, researchers have found that certain dream themes are very common across different cultures. For example, people from all over the world frequently dream about being chased, being attacked, or falling. Other common dream experiences include feeling frozen and unable to move, arriving late, flying, and being naked in public. (Quote source here.)
In another article published on HuffPost.com that was updated on December 7, 2017, titled, “14 Common Dreams and Symbols and Why They’re Important,” by DreamsCloud, Contributor, the following information is provided. This exact same article is also available under the title of “Dream Meanings” at Evangelical Christian Academy:
For 90 minutes to two hours or more each night, every single person on Earth dreams. Sometimes, the dreams are straightforward in their meaning to the dreamer: a long-lost friend reappears, a tropical beach beckons or the lottery jackpot is within reach.
But dreams don’t always tell a simple story, and the field of dream research becomes even more fascinating when people from different cultures and backgrounds report having similar dreams.
“Dreams are a universal language, creating often elaborate images out of emotional concepts,” explains Suzanne Bergmann, a licensed social worker and professional dream worker for more than 16 years.
Bergmann, who is part of the experienced team of Dream Reflectors at DreamsCloud that provide feedback and insight about dreams, has identified 14 common images found in dreams posted to the DreamsCloud user-generated dreams database.
“There’s no single, definitive meaning for symbols and images in dreams,” Bergmann notes. “But just as a smile usually means that someone is happy, these dream images are so common, that they do have a generally accepted meaning.”
1. Being Chased
This is one of the most commonly reported dreams. Mostly because the anxiety we feel in the dream is so vivid, that it makes it easier for us to remember them. Often, the reason for these dreams comes not from the fear of actually being chased, but rather what we’re running from. Chase dreams help us to understand that we may not be addressing something in our waking lives that requires our attention.
Water frequently represents our emotions or our unconscious minds. The quality of the water (clear vs. cloudy; calm vs. turbulent) often provides insight into how effectively we are managing our emotions.
Whether a car, airplane, train or ship, the vehicles in our dream can reflect what direction we feel our life is taking, and how much control we think we have over the path ahead of us. Vehicles can give us the power to make a transition and envision ourselves getting to our destination — or highlight the obstacles we think we are facing and need to work through.
Seeing other people in your dream often is a reflection of the different aspects of the self. The people in dreams can relate to characteristics that need to be developed. Specific people directly relate to existing relationships or interpersonal issues we need to work through. Dreaming of a lover, in particular, is frequently symbolic of an aspect of ourselves, from which we feel detached.
5. School or Classroom
It’s a very common situation for people in dreams to find themselves in a school or classroom, often confronted with a test that they aren’t prepared to take. This is a great example of a “dream pun” — the mind using a word or concept and giving it a different definition. The “lesson” or “test” we face inside the school or classroom is frequently one we need to learn from our past — which is one reason these dreams are often reported by people who have long since finished school.
Unknown to most people, the body is actually encountering a form of paralysis during dreaming, which prevents it from physically performing the actions occurring in their dreams, therefore dreaming about paralysis frequently represents the overlap between the REM stage and waking stage of sleep. Dreaming about paralysis can also indicate that the dreamer feels he or she lacks control in their waking life.
Although death is often perceived as negative, it’s often more directly related to dramatic change happening for the dreamer — the end of one thing, in order to make room for something new.
Flying in a dream, and how effectively or poorly it’s done, relates to how much control we feel we have in our lives, and whether we are confident and able to achieve our goals. High flying is one of the most euphoric dreams imaginable, while flying or “skimming” low to the ground or being caught in obstacles like power lines can be immensely frustrating.
Not all falling dreams are scary and negative. Some dreamers report a type of slow falling that indicates serenity and the act of letting go. Often, falling uncontrollably from a great height indicates something in waking our life that feels very much out of control.
Emotional or psychological exposure or vulnerability is very often expressed in dreams through nudity. The body part that’s exposed can give more insight into the emotion that our dreams are helping us to understand.
Dreaming of a baby often represents something new: It might be a new idea, new project at work, new development or the potential for growth in a specific area of our waking life.
Food symbolizes energy, knowledge or nourishment and is directly related to our intellect, emotions and spirituality. Food can also be a manifestation of idioms like, “food for thought,” and reveal that we may be “hungry” for new information and insights.
Houses frequently represent the dreamer’s mind. Different levels or rooms may relate to difference aspects of the individual dreamer and different degrees of consciousness. The basement often represents what has been neglected, or what the dreamer is not aware of in his or her waking life, while bedrooms relate to intimate thoughts and feelings — those closest to the dreamer’s core self.
Sex in dreams can simply be an outlet for sexual expression. But dreams about sex can also symbolize intimate connections with one’s self and others, and the figurative integration of new information.
Despite the commonality shared by many dream symbols, it is important to point out that only the dreamer can truly interpret the meaning of their dream and how these symbols and their meanings may connect to the specific events occurring in their waking life. (Quote source here and here.)
At least now I know more about dreams then I did before, and I hope you do, too. However, given that the Christmas season has already started in most stores and malls around the country, and that the season will officially get underway right after Thanksgiving, perhaps many folks in areas where it snows in the winter will start dreaming of a white Christmas, and the rest of us not living around snow or planning to visit areas where it snows at Christmas can dream of having a bright Christmas right where we live.
I’ll end this post with the last line from the song, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”; however, I’ve changed the very last word to also accommodate those of us living where there is no snow at Christmas. Here goes… ( a little music, please )–May your days be merry and bright…
And may all . . .
Your Christmases . . .
Be BRIGHT (too). . . .
YouTube Video: “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas” by The Drifters: