Question: do dreams actually have a meaning?


  1. Great question. The reason we dream and if our dreams have any meaning is actually not fully understood. It is a very complex area of research, and there are several theories as to why we dream but none have been widely accepted.

    It was once widely thought that dreams are the result of underlying intentions and motivations, and as such could be analysed and interpreted to reveal psychological issues. This area was pioneered by the psychotherapist Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, but it’s generally now thought that the things we dream about don’t really have any real symbolic meaning and you can’t tell someone has psychological issues simply because they always see something in their dreams!

    It is now thought that dreams are a way of brain processing information while we sleep. There are many versions of this theory but most revolve around dreams being a mechanism for the brain to process information picked up during waking hours, enforce memories, to remove ‘junk’ information and even a way for the brain to ‘think’ about information differently. What is really interesting is that when scans of the electrical activity are taken of someone when they are in deep sleep (and most likely to be dreaming) they are very similar to the electrical activity when that person is awake.

    The wiki page on Dreams has a very detailed explanation of all the current theories, and the history of what people have thought dreams are ( It’s really interesting and the it appears the that debate of what we see in dreams has meaning has been around a long time, and I think that it will be a little while longer before we have an answer, but modern science is allowing us to improve our understanding of the purpose and possible meaning of dreams.


  2. Yes, no, maybe. Sorry to give you 3 answers, let me explain.

    What are dreams? Dreams is your brain’s way of organizing information. When the brain is doing that sometimes some of that information can get picked up, get connected to other bits of information which might be interpreted as if it is real by some other part of the brain, making it a dream.

    If you are dreaming of a cold, windy day it might be that your brain is getting signals saying that your body is cold. In this case, you should probably just pull the covers up. This is the “NO” answer, a case of the dream not having a meaning, or rather not having a very deep meaning other than the fact that you are cold!

    When you go to sleep, your brain does not stop working on problems. It sometimes keeps on working, coming up creative but impossible solutions. This is a case of “MAYBE” the dreams have meaning. You might manage to solve your problem by “sleeping on it”. There is some good research that shows that revising information after you have had some sleep makes it stick much better.

    When your brain is busy organizing information, it (you?) might also notice things that you did not even think about when it happened. You might get a chance to think about what your friend was wearing or what he said. This is a case of the “YES” answer where dreams have meaning because you notice new information.

    There are also people who “interpret” dreams. They might say if you see a flying bird, you should buy a lottery ticket because you will win some money, or if you dream of your teeth falling out it means you are stressed about something. The accuracy of these interpretations vary greatly. Don’t buy the lottery ticket, no dream can guarantee you winning. When people are stressed, they do grind their teeth in their sleep, so being stressed can lead to you dreaming about teeth. For other fun interpretations see

    For scientific explanations and theories on dreams, see