The Role of Dreams- Canberra Doula
Even if we don't remember our dreams, we all dream. In fact, the average person experiences 3-6 dreams every day/night that they sleep. Although, for most of us we have forgotten 95% of the dreams we have had before we even leave our beds. Interestingly, during pregnancy many report better dream recall than what they had prior to pregnancy and dreams can often be much more vivid too. It is believed that this better dream recall is a result of those divine pregnant beings needing to wake more frequently due to bubs activity or a need to release the bladder, this wake up can often be mid dream cycle which leads to a better recollection of dreams.
A study in 2016 found that those expecting a baby were twice as likely to experience nightmares than those who were not pregnant. This may sound absolutely horrible but rest assured this is actually a great thing as according to the book called 'Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams' written by clinical psychologist Patricia Garfield those who experience more nightmares about birth during pregnancy have a shorter, easier birth. Furthermore, numerous fears are processed and worked through during pregnancy simply by dreaming those vivid dreams.
Dreams offer a spiritual insight or symbolize too for those who feel drawn to that aspect of dreams. It is believed from a spiritual perspective that dreams provide insight from the universe or insight into pathways to take or avoid. The dreams may assist some in acknowledging a change needed in their life or pathway which they have been resisting. For some, the dreams are believed to or even act as an insight into the future. Dreams can also be a great way to connect to your intuition or 'inner knowing' which may have been unheard during the day for whatever reasons that may have been (too much stuff to do, too many voices, lack of connection with yourself). As intuition plays a crucial role in the journey from pregnancy to parenthood dreams can be incredibly beneficial to help connect to this crucial player in the journey. "Connecting with my intuition is all well and good, but how am I meant to even know what to know what each of these dreams means and what happens if I forget my dream?", I hear you say, and those are very valid questions that I now intend on answering for you.
“I crave the sweet surrender of sleep and my dreams' uncensored communication: no tiresome small talk, sucking up to impress, or tiptoeing around charged topics. Dreams are the naked truth; get ready for it.”
~ Dr. Judith Orloff
Attempting to remember dreams can be difficult for some people but thankfully it is not impossible. Unfortunately, unless you are planning to wake up mid dream cycle, regularly through the night or during the middle of the night where chances of remembering your dreams are much higher, your options are limited to making the effort to focus on recalling what you dreamt about before leaving the bed. Studies have also suggested that consumption of vitamin B6 before going to bed may assist with dream recall. However, it is important to note that the studies done on this are incredibly limited. It is also important to remember that the safe upper limit of vitamin B6 for an adult is around 100mg per day and this amount (or close to this amount) generally safely acquired through a good diet full of vitamin B6 rich foods. The best way to help yourself recall dreams is to keep a dream journal, notepad (paper or electronic), or a voice recorder next to you so that you can write about or speak about your dream immediately on waking. The best time to attempt to recall your dreams is believed to be within the first 90 seconds after waking up. It is also incredibly important to be aware that this method may not be beneficial for those struggle with night terrors, regular horrible nightmares, or struggle with trauma as once you have trained your brain to remember dreams it can be difficult to 'un-train' your brain. In these situations, it can be better to speak to a holistic counselor or psychologist before proceeding with dream recall methods. That being said nightmares are not necessarily bad things, as mentioned earlier nightmares can help the dreamer to subconsciously work through fears, anxieties, concerns or events that they have experienced or are worried they may experience. Dreams (or nightmares) present us with an opportunity to work through anxieties, fears, concerns or experiences which may be holding us back and impacting our future experiences; in fact, some people find it helpful to write down their nightmares to determine whether there is an underlying fear or reason which could have prompted the dream then exploring this issue objectively with or without a support (psychologist, doula, counselor, etc) . For many people, dream recall can be an interesting and beneficial way to connect to their own inner knowing. Below are some methods which can be used to help remember dreams:
Form a sleep pattern, go to bed at a set time and wake at a set time. It is best to wake of your own accord without an alarm where/when possible as some alarms can reduce the chance of dream recall. However, if you need an alarm to wake set it to have you wake at 4.5 hours, 6 hours, or 7 hours after you estimate yourself being able to fall asleep as it increases the chances of waking mid dream cycle, which increases odds of dream recall
Ensure the alarm you set is as calm and relaxing as possible so as not to impact on the transition from the dreaming state to the state of awakeness. Harsh or high pitched alarms may shock the mind and interfere with dream recall even if the dreamer is mid dream cycle. Find alarms that create white sound.
Avoid hitting the snooze button if you have an alarm as this can decrease your chances of remembering dreams and decreases the chances of a healthy sleep cycle which is needed for dreams to occur.
Don't move immediately when you wake or think about what you need to do on that day, or anything that does not involve remembering your dream (otherwise, the chances of forgetting your dream and not remembering it is much higher); focus on recalling your dream or any feelings you are experiencing, experienced, or anything that stands out to you. Make sure you jot it down or voice record it immediately
Find or create an object which helps you to remember to focus on dream recall on waking. Place this object where you sleep for you to see on waking up. This presents you with a reminder on waking to try to remember your dream, over time the brain becomes accustomed to dream recall whenever this object is seen on waking as it helps train the mind to remember your dreams when you see that particular object.
Keep your dream journal, notepad (electronic or paper), or voice recorder handy throughout the day to write or record things that you may remember throughout the day as memories and the mind can be triggered at various times throughout the day by various things.
Record patterns along with dreams: what did you eat and drink before you slept, what position where you in when you woke up, what time did you go to sleep (if you can remember), what was the temperature of the room, what time did you wake up, what was your mood like before you slept, what was your day like before you slept, and any other information that may help you recognize patterns
Listening to binaural beats prior to sleeping as they are believed to create a meditative state within the body, increase mindfulness, improve sleep quality, increase physical and mental relaxation, promote out of body experiences with dreams, improve memory (including of dreams) and increase the chances of lucid dreams.
Take 20 minutes before bed to power-down: relax in the dark, do some meditation, listen to soothing music
Drinking 3 glasses of water before bed increases the body's chances of needing to release bladder contents during the night which in turn increases the chances of waking mid dream cycle and increases odds of recall.
Now that you know the ways that you can help yourself to remember the dreams you had I am going to run through some ways to help you decipher what you have been dreaming.
"Baby step by baby step, you have what you need right now to start moving in the direction of your happiest dreams."
~ Marta Davidovich Ockuly
It is important to remember when attempting to decipher dreams that there are many methods of interpreting dreams along with many different beliefs surrounding these interpretations. Depending on the interpreter it can be interpreted through scientific, psychological, mythological, contemporary, traditional, or even cultural symbolism. For this reason, it is important to be guided by interpretations that resonate with you and how your dream circumstances or symbols relate to you in your everyday life or situation. Interpretations only serve to provide you with clues to help you decipher your dreams; however, they never trump your own intuition. Keeping track of patterns (as mentioned in the dream recall process above) can also be incredibly helpful as you will be able to interpret your dreams more clearly as you notice patterns in your dreams or outside of your dreams.
SCISSORS - Often represents quarreling or hurtful rumors or gossip happening in your life.
ACCIDENT OCCURS - Often represents pent up guilt, or there may be an error in action or choice made.
ANGEL - Often represents blessings, enlightenment, and protection
BAGGAGE - Empty bags often represent the need for a tighter budget and full bags can mean a good budget. However, if you are carrying the full bags and lots of items this may also indicate that you are feeling burdened, overwhelmed and need to let go of something in your life to ease this burden or overwhelmed feeling.
HEALTHY & HAPPY BIRDS - Spiritual happiness, freedom, success, and ability to rise above your challenges
INJURED BIRD - Often represents fear, sorrow, loss of freedom and restrictions have been creating difficulties
FLYING BIRD- You are gaining control of a situation, have awareness, hope, and joy
FLOCK OF BIRDS - Often represents prosperity and an unexpected surprise
SINGING BIRDS - Happy turn of events
FIGHTING BIRDS - This is an indicator you are spreading yourself too thinly and may end up on a less than desirable path if you don't take action soon to rectify this issue.
PLAYING AN ACCORDIAN - Something in your life may be making you feel unhappy or stressed
HEARING AN ACCORDIAN - A good indicator that you need to focus attention on happier things in your life
ADVENTURE - This can often indicate that you need an escape, are bored, and/or feeling stuck
OLDER YOU - Often indicates that you are regretting something and you may need to choose a different path
YOUNGER YOU - Often indicates that you may feel a bit more carefree about a situation; however, it may also indicate that you have unfinished business from any period within our life which continues to affect us. Take note of the surroundings, clothing choice and hairstyles in the dream as it may help identify what event is affecting you
PLANE FLYING - You are likely to overcome setbacks or obstacles, and your plans will make great headway
BOOKS - Indicates that you are acquiring new knowledge; however, it may mean you need to get more info
BREAD - Often indicates health, happiness, and good luck; however, if there is something wrong with the bread or someone has cut or is cutting the bread it can indicate that you need to prepare for challenges
ALIEN - Often means you may be feeling alienated from something or someone during your journey; however, it may also mean that you are about to learn something new about yourself that you were not aware of.
NOT WANTING TO CROSS A BRIDGE - This can indicate hesitance or trepidation about the birth process or impending parenthood. For people outside of these scenarios, it can indicate hesitancy or trepidation about something else incredibly significant that you have approaching in your life.
BUILDINGS - This often mirrors the growing baby and buildings may get bigger as baby develops. Fear along with buildings can be an indicator that you have some insecurities about your size, or baby's size, or parenthood
DOING BACKFLIPS - This can mean that you have been accommodating others and not considering your needs
PEOPLE COMPLAINING OF YOUR BAD BREATH - Something has happened or is about to happen which will require you to really think before you speak or make a choice to prevent from hurting yourself or others.
BEING CHASED & THEY ARE ON YOUR TAIL - This is a common anxiety dream, something is bothering you and you are incredibly overwhelmed at the moment. It may be time to assess the underlying reason for the anxiety and how you can start to overcome this to have a more positive experience
BEING CHASED & THEY ARE A FAIR DISTANCE AWAY - Also a common anxiety dream; however, this particular dream often indicates that you are doing a great job working hard to overcome your anxiety and underlying difficulties. As a result, you will likely succeed in this and have little left to worry about.
CHAINS - This can often indicate repression and restrictions placed on you, or ill intentions by someone.
GIFTING MONEY - The release of a burden and lessening of anxiety
RECEIVING MONEY - Good luck and blessings
DAFFODILS - joy, renewal and the good news is on its way
DAISY - Good times and friends are in your future; it can also indicate that you are surrounded by loved ones
DANDELIONS - You may be overwhelmed by other people's ideas, opinions and/or gossip at your expense. It is a good reminder to release those from your circle that do not support you to the fullest (medical or non-medical)
DARK ROOMS, SHADOWS, PASSAGES, CAVES & TUNNELS - This can indicate that you may be suppressing feelings, fears which have not been worked through, or there have been unanswered questions bothering you
BREAKING THE LAW - This can indicate that your choices or actions are being influenced by someone else (non-medical or medical) who does not have your best interest at heart. It is a good reminder to consider your own wants, needs, feelings and to ultimately follow your own path, not one chosen for you.
DESERT - You may be feeling isolated or lonely and need to have your spiritual or physical needs met
DROPPING OR HURTING BABY - This often indicates a fear of your parenting abilities (this is normal)
DROWNING - This can indicate either emotional exhaustion or the actual physical need for more oxygen.
CACTI - Can indicate that you may be feeling suffocated by something in your life
CAMPING - Often indicates that you need a break, or companionship, or time in nature
DEVIL -This can often mean that something or someone is not in your best interest.
FOG - You may be facing uncertainty and need more information to ensure an informed choice.
FORGETTING BABY - This is a common dream during pregnancy it can indicate feeling underprepared for parenthood or birth; however, it can represent you letting go of something to become a parent
FROGS - Often represent rapid changes, joy and abundance
ENTERING A DOOR - Great opportunities are coming your way
LOCKED DOOR - Often means that you may be feeling overlooked, under cared for, and needing love
CLIMBING A HILL & REACHING THE TOP - You are overcoming difficulties
CLIMBING A HILL & NOT REACHING THE TOP - You will feel disappointment unless you rethink your plans
FAIRIES - You are seeking answers and/or support to negotiate you through a tricky situation.
FALLING - A common dream with anxiety and represents a sense of powerlessness or not being heard.
HAMMER - This demonstrates your inner power and determination to reach your goals
HANDSHAKE - This can represent agreements or deals; however if the handshake is wet or floppy be wary.
HEAVY - The feeling of heaviness in a dream can indicate a lot of emotions and heavy weight on your shoulders
ECHIDNA - There may be some troublesome situations that require a lot of diplomacies to get through
PUDDLES - A warning of undesirable people in your life (medical or non-medical) and you need to reassess your circle of supports to ensure that everyone within your circle supports you entirely
CLEARWATER - Happiness and abundance
MURKEY OR FAST WATER - You may be facing or currently facing troubles and difficulties
SEARCHING - You may have left part of yourself behind or a goal of yours behind; find them and reclaim them
SNAKES - Trust in your own best judgment and intuition; try not to be swayed by others
A GENTLE BREEZE - Happy news is to come
STRONG WINDS - Something is not right between your friendship or support circle. Be wary
JUMPING - You may be taking a big risk or a step towards your goal
AFRAID TO JUMP - Uncertainty, fear, or distrust may be holding your back. It is important to assess why or what
RECEIVING A LETTER - Someone may be trying to tell you something or you need to say something
DULL LIGHT - You may be fearful or running out of ideas and need a new approach to the situation
BRIGHT LIGHT - You have clarity, can accept the situation and able to face it with determination
MAP - You are likely not sure about which way to turn with things and what path to take. Look for unusual features in the map which may give you clues.
MAZE - You may be feeling confused or have jumbled thoughts or emotion about something
It is important to remember though that this is only a small list of interpretations for different things in dreams and ultimately the way in which we interpret dreams and the things in the dreams is very individual. There are also everyday dreams and precognitive or prophetic dreams. The main difference between the two types of dreams is one type may seem like a nonsensical mesh up of anything and everything, whereas the other you may wake with this unshakable feeling that it was real. It is these precognitive dreams which provide us with the greatest insight into our own inner knowing. They help to prepare you or warn you (much of this is your own inner knowing or intuition telling you what you need to know; however, for some this may be a lot more) so it is beneficial to understand the ways in which to distinguish a precognitive dream vs an everyday dream.
How to distinguish between types of dreams:
What did you do, drink, eat or take the day before the dream? If a dream feeds directly off experience it is unlikely to be a precognitive dream; however, it can still give a little insight into your subconscious and intuition you will just need to decipher the dream like any other mesh up of day-to-day dreams you've had.
Were you comfortable, experiencing physical pain or feeling big emotions when you went to sleep? All of these can impact dreams and again in these circumstances, it is likely the dream would be a normal day-to-day dream with your subconscious interpreting these discomforts as best it could in the dream.
Is this the first time you have experienced this particular dream; if you have experienced the same dream before it is possible your inner knowing is trying to tell you something important by precognitive dreams
How real did it feel, how vivid was the dream and how fast did the memory of the dream disappear. Precognitive dreams usually feel more real, vivid, and easier to remember than normal day-to-day dreams.
Finally, it is incredibly important to understand and remember that how you interpret your dreams is incredibly individuals and must be based on your individual circumstances, beliefs, etc and the way those dream interpretations are used is limited only to your imagination and intention. Dreams can be used to improve memory, overcome obstacles, work through fears, reach goals and a range of other things. It is a powerful tool that plays a crucial role not just during pregnancy to support a positive birth, but also throughout our lives.
We hope you have found this post informative and make sure you let us know if there is a topic you would like us to cover in our blogs. If you are interested in learning more and finding out about our Doula Services make sure you get in touch for a FREE initial meet – we’d love to meet you.