Think about all the songs that are about dreams: Lovely songs – lovely dreams. ‘I’ll see you in my dreams’. ‘Sweet dreams Baby’. ‘Sweet dreams of you’. ‘I was dreaming of old Ireland’. ‘I’m dreaming tonight of the old rustic bridge.’ And if the bridge doesn’t do it for you, there’s always a ‘White Christmas’. We could go on forever. There must be more songs with the word ‘dream’ than any other word – with the exception of ‘love’ perhaps.
You would therefore be entitled to imagine that a dream is one of life’s great little pleasures; but from my bed I tell you, dear readers, this is not how it has ever panned out for me. I love my sleep, am a heavy sleeper and rarely dream about anything; but when I do dream, I rarely get what I want and the outcome is predominately negative most of the time.
A recurring dream is where I forget to milk the cows – even though I haven’t gone down on a cow in twenty-five years. I rate myself as a happy chappie, but my dreams are almost always a tale of misery, or trying to disentangle myself from some hobble or other.
It was always the same: As a boy, I regularly woke to the terror of having gone to school without putting on my trousers, or going to serve mass in my wellington boots.
Nowadays, I am in a hotel or apartment block, desperately trying to find the door of someone I want to meet, without ever being able to find them: Or I am in a war zone and running away. (I know … I know!)
But the facts of the matter are that most of your dreams are negative too – despite the romanticism portrayed by the use of the word ‘dream’.
There are all sorts of books trying to explain the meaning of dreams. Some say that it is possible to influence the content of dreams by how we think before sleep, what we eat, listening to music, or even the position we lie in the bed; such as on our back, tummy or side. Indeed experiments with drugs and electronic gadgets searching for the perfect dreamland are widely indulged in.
I sometimes wake up after an interesting dream, as it is slipping from my memory and this is so frustrating. It is thought that as much as 90 per cent of all dreams are quickly forgotten. Apparently, the sisters have longer dreams than us fellows and with more characters involved.
Men’s dreams are generally of a more aggressive nature. Either way, dreams can be fascinating, exciting, terrifying or just weird. And the dream we are having can certainly govern how we feel about life when we wake up.
If I dream that I have gone back drinking, and then when I wake up to the realisation that it was only a dream, I get up feeling on top of the world and so grateful for my day; but when I dream that my brother didn’t die after all, I then come to my senses in a sad state: That’s dreams for you.
It is no surprise that smells and sounds can dictate our dreams. Tests confirm that whiffs of rose scent are conducive to rosier dreams – if you’ll pardon the pun. On the other hand, the smell of rotten eggs (hope you are not having your breakfast!) provoked unpleasant dreams, the study found.
Studies also confirm that recorded sounds, such as waves lapping against the shore, or birds singing in the woodlands can direct the mind towards pleasant dreaming.
Many experts have devoted years of their lives to the study and analysis of dreams. Freud placed much cognisance on dreams in his studies of the human mind. This column doesn’t believe that quite so much can be learned from our dreams. For most of us it is just the mind drifting off on a solo run with nobody at the helm, no steering wheel or navigation in place – and it can go where it likes and it doesn’t matter if it makes any sense or not.
And we shall conclude with a little story to illustrate the fact that your dream, or the wife’s, can be dangerous to your health: A wife was dreaming that she was at the exciting bit of an affair with another man, and it was then that she heard her husband’s key in the front door. “Oh my God, here comes my husband”, she screamed in her sleep. Her words woke her husband beside her in the bed – who promptly jumped out the upstairs window!!
Don’t be unhappy if your dreams never come true – just be thankful your nightmares don’t.