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9 Things You Didn't Know About Dreams

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5. You can linger in a dream after waking.

Have you ever woken up from such a beautiful, perfect dream that you wished you could go back to sleep to soak it all up (you know, the dream about George Clooney?)? You can! Just lie still—don’t move a muscle—and you can remain in a semi-dreamlike state for a few minutes. “The best way to remember your dreams is to simply stay put when you wake up,” says Loewenberg. “Remain in the position you woke up in, because that is the position you were dreaming in. When you move your body, you disconnect yourself from the dream you were just in seconds ago.”

6. Even bizarre dreams can be interpreted. 

While it can be hard to believe that an oddball dream about your mother, a circus and a snowstorm can have any bearing on real life, there may be symbolism and potential meaning to be mined in every dream—you just have to look for it, says Harvard-trained psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber. "The meaning of our dreams oftentimes relates to things we are needing to understand about ourselves and the world around us,” he says. Instead of shrugging off strange dreams, think about how they make you feel. “We tend to dismiss these dreams due to the strange components, yet it is the feeling we have in these dreams that matters most,” he explains. “Sometimes the circus and the snowstorm are just fillers that allow us to process the range of emotions we feel about our mother and give us the necessary distraction so we can actually experience that spectrum of emotion.”

7. Recurring dreams may be your mind’s way of telling you something. 

Do you have the same nightmare over and over again? Loewenberg suggests looking for underlying messages in recurring dreams so that you can rid yourself of them. For example, a common recurring nightmare people have involves losing or cracking their teeth. For this dream, she recommends that people think about what your teeth and your mouth represent. “To the dreaming mind, your teeth, as well as any part of your mouth, are symbolic of your words,” she says. “Paying attention to your teeth dreams helps you to monitor and improve the way you communicate.”

8. You can control your dreams. 

The premise of the new movie Inception is that people can take the reins of their dreams and make them what they want them to be. But it may not just be a Hollywood fantasy. According to the results of a new survey of 3,000 people, dream control, or “lucid dreaming” may be a real thing. In fact, 64.9 percent of participants reported being aware they were dreaming within a dream, and 34 percent said they can sometimes control what happens in their dreams. Taking charge of the content of your dreams isn’t a skill everyone has, but it can be developed, says Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California. The technique is particularly useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares, he says. Dr. Bulkeley suggests giving yourself a pep talk of sorts before you go to sleep by saying: “If I have that dream again, I’m going to try to remember that’s it’s only a dream, and be aware of that.” When you learn to be aware that you are dreaming—within a dream—you not only have the power to steer yourself away from the monster and into the arms of Brad Pitt, for instance, but you train your mind to avoid nightmares in the first place. “Lucid dreaming enhances your ability to learn from the dream state,” says Dr. Bulkeley.

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