Why We Have Dreams & How To Analyze Them

Updated on February 11, 2023

Dream analysis can be a useful practice for sleeping well at night and having more satisfying dreams. It is a good place to start if you have trouble falling asleep or have been waking up too early in the morning. You may also find that you have less stress if you regularly pick apart the meaning of your dreams and try to figure out why you’re dreaming about certain things.

Why Do People Dream?

Every night when we sleep, our brains compare the events of the day for similarities. They then use these memories to create a realistic representation in our dreams. We experience emotions and sensations that parallel what happened during the day but in a way that feels safe. These feelings can range from fear or excitement to joy or sadness.

Our brains also play back memories that are associated with certain emotions. Thus, when we see someone who reminds us of someone we lost or who brings up emotions from days gone by, it can be so familiar it is hard to recognize. We experience these emotions during dreams because something in our brain is triggering them.

But this is not the only thing that happens during the night, as our brains also continuously replay previous events. These replays of experiences can include many things; they can be commonplace, like having a cup of coffee, or more unusual like an out-of-body experience (and yes, this really does happen).

Why Do We Dream The Things We Dream About?

Woman dreaming vector

Thoughts from earlier in the day may also play into what we dream about, especially if they’re strong emotional responses like trauma or stress. But even if you had a calm and carefree evening before bed, your brain still needs to work through your subconscious thoughts and process any lingering problems you still have left over from earlier in the day.

Recalling and Recording Dreams

Dreams are often influenced by our entire waking life, but their interpretations are sometimes clouded by the mind if the person isn’t aware of what they’re reading. If you remember a dream you had over the weekend, try to recall the details of it.

Write down any memorable elements from your dream and think about them when you wake up. Maybe it was a dream about an accident or something that happened in your past. Or maybe it was a creative story with unrelated images and words like a romance novel might have. Whatever your dream was, try to think about how it relates to you and events from your life.

Analyzing Dreams

dream analysis

There are a few different ways to analyze dreams, but there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are no official rules on how you should go about analyzing a dream either, so don’t feel like you have to follow a specific method. Instead, use a method that makes the most sense to you. The psychological meaning of dreams is somewhat complicated because dreams aren’t exact pictures of what happens in our lives or recreations of real events that have happened in the past. In fact, they often show symbolic elements that represent deeper emotions and underlying issues we may be experiencing.

So how can you analyze your dream if the meaning of it is so hard to determine?

Question Everything

First, you can ask yourself some questions about what happened in your dream. Try to answer them in your journal when you wake up. Did you have unusual activity in the dream? Was there something that happened that was very different from what usually happens when you’re awake? Or are you having trouble with a certain situation or emotion that came up in the dream? Dream analysis usually helps us clarify these deeper feelings.


Secondly, focus on the imagery in your dream. Analyse each item separately and think about why it’s there and what it means. Is there a story behind the images? Is there a hidden meaning for each image? Look at the content of your dream and try to find common themes, such as the colors, objects, people or symbols you’re seeing.


Finally, you can focus on the emotions that show up in your dream. Listen to them and try to understand what emotions they represent. Perhaps they’re a response to something that happened during the day or a projection of unresolved feelings from your waking life.

Final Word

It is important to note that not all dreams are reliable sources of information. Even though it sounds like it should be obvious, everyone dreams differently, even people with similar sleeping habits like you and me. If you’re not sure if your dream was a good source of information, try to analyze it anyway and see what you can find out.

Think about what happens in your dreams often and try to figure out the meaning of them. They may be a way for your subconscious mind to communicate with you about deeper emotions, thoughts or memories. And if they’re not a good source for anything you need to know, there are other ways that dreams can help you improve your life or cope with daily stressors that may be influencing your sleeping patterns.

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