Is there any meaning to our dreams?

Is there any meaning to our dreams?

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ATLANTA -

Most of us are fascinated by our dreams, because what happens when we sleep is the one part of our lives we can't control. What do our dreams really mean?

We dream about four to six times a night, even if we don't remember our dreams. Sometimes our dreams are odd or disturbing. Sometimes we get stuck having the same dream night after night.

Usually the dreams that stand out are often the most disturbing. Have you ever had the one where your teeth are falling out one by one? Or, you're being chased by someone or something you just can't get away from?  How about the dream where you're out in public - sporting nothing but you birthday suit? Or sweating through a test for something you know zero about.

Do your dreams have any meaning?

Psychologist and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus says that's a hard to question to answer, because dreams are so personal.

"You can interpret a dream, and I can interpret a dream, and we can both be right, and both be wrong," said Breus.

Breus says if you're having the dream over and over, like the one about your teeth rotting out, you may just be stressed out.

"And sometimes you can use it almost as a meter. So if you have that dream, and you don't realize you're stressed, maybe you should do something to help reduce your stress," Breus said.

If you're having the same nightmare over and over, Breus has a trick he uses with his patients to break the cycle.

"We write down the entire dream, all of it, every single detail they can remember.  Then, we go back in and we change the ending.  So they are no longer the victim, but they are the hero or the heroines.  We change that. And then we have them read that right before bed every night for about seven to 10 days.  And you'd be surprised. We can actually change people's nightmares doing it that way," said Breus.

If you're one of those people who can never remember your dreams, try putting a pad of paper and a pen beside your bed.

"You can actually learn to remember your dreams by writing down, as you wake up in the morning.  If you wait more than about 30 to 60 seconds, it's gone,'" Breus said.

Researchers think that dreaming helps our brain consolidate information, filing away the new things we learn during the day with our old memories. Breus says dreams are interesting, but they may or may not really shed light on our waking lives.

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