An Expert Explains the Unexpected Benefit of Having Recurring Nightmares
Kind of like the saying, "Any press is good press," the same sort of holds true with dreams, believe it or not.
So basically, even if a dream technically isn't good, it's better to dream a dream of any kind than not dream (or remember a dream) at all.
"If someone is having nightmares or recurring nightmares, it doesn't mean they're not doing well," Los Angeles, California-based depth psychologist Carder Stout—an expert in getting to the underlying, subconscious meaning of people's dreams—tells Sweety High. "It means that there's something that needs their attention. Dream analysis is something that is so vitally important to understanding ourselves better. More than 90% of people dream, but a very, very small percentage of people actually understand what their dreams mean. Dreams are not arbitrary. Dreams are not random. They have a message to give us and have a distinct purpose. Dreams speak to us in metaphors, in symbols, archetypes and feelings. The purpose is to try to help us rebalance ourselves, because as human beings, we get out of balance very easily."
So, why, exactly, is it better to experience angst in your slumber as opposed to nothing at all?
"If you are not dreaming a lot or if you feel disconnected from your dreams and also feel like, 'Ah, I just can't remember my dreams,' or 'I'm just not a dreamer,' it means that much of the time, you might be too stuck in your thoughts," Carder explains. "We dream from the spiritual place in ourselves. To start to access that place where dreams originate—what we call psyche—it is important to try and reconnect or connect for the first time to your more spiritual side. That can be done through any kind of spiritual practice."
It's not particularly difficult to reach this connection.
"Start a dialogue with that place in you," Carder advises. "Depth psychologists believe in the soul. I believe in a soul. I believe that we all have a soul. Carl Jung, who was a depth psychologist and someone who was very important in the 20th century as a writer, scholar and psychology, believed that the soul's voice is what we hear in dreams. If you listen to dreams you are listening to the will of the soul—which I think is a beautiful way to look at it."
He adds: "Do the things that you love, the things that make you smile, the things that make your heart leap, the things that are authentic to you. If you love to make art, make more art. That is going to stimulate your soul."
Referring to dreams as a "foreign language," Carder describes his job as "understanding the fundamentals of the language of dreams."
He explains, "When someone comes in to see me, I can say, 'Well, tell me a dream,' and then I can try and peel the layers of what the symbols are actually meaning in the dream. Much of the time, that can be really useful information for me."
Regardless of where you're at consciously or subconsciously, Carder has some pre-snooze guidelines that encourage better night sleeps overall.
"The healthier that your psyche is, the better you're going to sleep," he says. "People are obsessed with technology. They're on their phones and computers all the time. They don't really get a rest from that. I would say power down. It makes a huge difference. Power down an hour before bed. Power everything down."
Once your tech toys are put away, Carder suggests starting a calming ritual.
"Light a candle, take a bath or read a book," he advises. "Do some journaling. Do some things enriching to the soul that are going to be calming. Then, you can ask and actually have a conversation with the psyche. You can be like, 'Please reveal my dreams to me tonight, I'm really ready and I want to dream.' Have an actual conversation with that spiritual side of yourself. Power down and try and calm the mind as much as you can. Take some deep breaths and relax."
And it goes without saying, but watching your sugar and caffeine intake hours leading up to your bedtime is key to getting a good night's rest.
If you have any general questions regarding your dreams or sleeping patterns, Carder encourages you to reach out to him directly HERE!
If nightmares or other hindrances are keeping you awake at night, you'll probably relate to THESE struggles of sleepless people.