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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Why we dream has been debated by scientists for centuries, and why we forget our dreams is an even greater mystery. Some believe that, from a biological standpoint, forgetting our dreams works to keep us asleep. That if we were to fully be in tune with our dreams we would constantly be waking up in the middle of the night (leaving us restless and weak throughout the day). Other great thinkers, such as Sigmund Freud, believed forgetting one’s dreams was a form of repression— a way to subconsciously block unique and unconventional desires. If that be the case, dreams are but one of the greatest tools in the realm of self-discovery. It is when we find what deep down we truly desire, that we can take action towards those passions and act to fulfill them. 

Though, how do we remember, how do we decipher what our dreams mean, and how do we get in control of our dreams?

Several tactics have been proven to help remember dreams. First off, it is important to have a restful sleeping environment. Eliminate noises and distractions that may prevent from falling into a deeper sleep. This may mean using earplugs or leaving your phone on the other side of the room. Most people who remember their dreams accredit it to having a dream journal. Have a notebook and pen by your bed in order to record what happened in your dream. If you can’t remember what happened in your dream, write down the first word that comes to mind because it may trigger recollections. A plain journal with no lines is best. Another tactic is to not eat, drink alcohol or take medication right before bed. The chemicals in these products can alter the brain’s ability to remember dreams. Instead, right before bed, the best thing to do is meditate and clear your mind and body of stressful thoughts or things that happened throughout the day. An alternative to meditating before bed is to read or think deeply about an emotional concern. Thinking about deep issues right before bed makes such issue more prone to pop up in a dream. Some other tricks said to help remember include taking B-vitamins, drinking Calea Zacatechichi Tea (“the dream herb”), eating melatonin-containing foods before you go to bed (such as bananas, oatmeal, cherries, and almonds), and don’t move upon waking. 

Once you’ve learned how to remember your dreams, you can learn how to interpret your dreams. Examine the images and figures that appear within your dream and find the conscious associations you have with those figures. Understand that people that appear in dreams are not always people, but often symbols of parts of ourselves. Beware also of “day residue” which is symbols or objects that appear in dreams because you came into contact with them during the day. The key to interpreting your dreams to first indicate the emotions felt in the dream and the common symbols that continue to appear. Through the interpretation of these factors, one can come to figure out what the dream is trying to tell you. Many psychoanalysts believe that, since dreams are not under of conscious control, they serve to promote health and growth much lie other autonomous bodily functions. Ask what the dream is trying to rebalance (or enhance) in your life.

Even beyond analyzing dreams, one can eventually work to be aware and control them. This is also known as lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs when you are dreaming and then suddenly realize that you are dreaming. Dream journals are incredibly important for lucid dreaming because it helps you train to remember your dreams. You’ll also want to take reality checks every so often. The best tip for doing this is to look at your hands and feet because these are often distorted in dreams when you inspect them closely. Another tip is to look at a text message or clock, look away, and then look at it again. In dreams text and time becomes blurry or nonsensical. Lastly, another option is to push the index finger of one hand through the other hand. During a dream, if you really expect it to go through, your finger would pass through the opposite palm. A tool that many lucid dreamers use is known as MILD (Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming). In order to accomplish this each night before going to bed repeat to yourself, “I will know that I’m dreaming”. 

If none of these traditional ways of lucid dreaming seem to work, you can always opt for buying a device to aid induce lucid dreaming. luciddreamer.com has new an advanced lucid dream device that helps you gain awareness inside of your dreams. The device enhances gamma activity in the brain through TACS (transcranial alternating current stimulation). This mild electrical stimulation to the head has been proven to be 100% safe and more information can be found on their website. When we begin to lucid dream we unlock our minds and reach a newfound utter freedom.  

Dreaming may seem at times irrelevant and trite but as Freud explained, “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.” A lot of who you are and who you will become is already inside you. The goal is to find it and let it out for the entire world to feel. As Walt Disney proclaimed, “All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” 


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Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.