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Why you should pay closer attention to your dreams

Susan Baragia, M.A. received a degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno. She is a trained family therapist, educational counselor and dreams expert.

Because dreams vividly reflect our concerns, thoughts and ultimately our realities, if you wake up sad, angry, scared or upset the best thing to do is to reflect.

sleeping woman

Photo credit: michaeljung/iStock/360/Getty Images

For years, psychologists have wondered if dreams affect reality, and if reality affects dreams. Whether we want to believe it or not, our dreams are impacted by the reality we live each and every day. Sometimes dreams mirror events as they happen in your waking life, with only a slight twist. Other times, they're steeped in imagery and symbolism that seem at odds. Still, there's a strong connection between the mind when we're awake and when asleep, as dreams are constantly impacting our reality, and vice versa.

Connecting dreams to reality

Do you believe that your dreams are memories of past memories and experiences, or projections of upcoming events? What is the true connection between dreams and reality? These are a couple of key questions to consider.

On average, you spend a third of your life sleeping. When you wake from a dream, your consciousness can remain part of that experience, and dreams make connections more widely and more broadly. For example, have you ever experienced a sort of deja vu, where you actually dreamed about an action or event days, weeks and months before it occurred? This experience is somewhat common, as dreams typically serve as windows into our emotional responses to the details of our everyday lives. With this in mind, all dreams are healthy, reflecting the state of our mental health and revealing to us our emotions. Our dreams, even our nightmares, are tools we use to organize our thoughts and feelings into solutions.

The importance of dream reflection

Because dreams vividly reflect our concerns, thoughts and ultimately our realities, if you wake up sad, angry, scared or upset the best thing to do is to reflect, whether it be self-reflection or seeking professional dream guidance. Identify the most prominent images from that dream, keep a brief journal or log of those images and look for insight. By doing so, you might not realize how deeply you're affected by a current event such as a natural disaster, or a family member who's passed away or even prominent celebrity gossip. Once you tap into the texture of your dream's content, you'll be able to better understand your own reality, especially on an emotional level. Whether your dreams are positive, negative, content or terrifying, you should always trust them.

A dream expert for DreamsCloud, the world's leading online dream resource, with an interactive database of more than 1.8 million dreams, Susan Baragia, M.A. received a degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno. A trained marriage and family therapist and educational counselor, she has worked with dreams in the therapeutic setting for 15 years.

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