The Science Behind Recurring Dreams

The Science Behind Recurring Dreams

Max Wesolowski, Staff Writer

A dream of aliens taking over the world could potentially be labeled as random, but what about dreams that keep coming back- what are they trying to say? Do they even have a purpose to begin with?

For the longest time, dreams have always had confusing explanations. Going back to ancient Mesopotamia, the earliest dreams were written down on clay tablets.

Humans thought that dreams represented communications conveyed directly from one or more gods, or from past people, and that they might forecast the future.

Within modern times, these dreams can have real connections to the daily actions a person takes. 

Lake Forest’s superstar social worker Daniel Maigler talks about dreams quite often. He preaches the idea that dreams can often be pointing to other areas in our lives, and that they could be a sign of one’s emotions.

“It is not a prediction of the future or anything like that, it’s our brain trying to solve a problem that our waking conscious mind is either not dealing with or has not been able to come up with an answer for,” Maigler said.

Teenagers, especially high schoolers, fall into the trap of being consumed in their own heads. Teenagers already are the most emotional of society, with all their thoughts and emotions going everywhere. This theme is prevalent when teenagers have crazy dreams. Emotions and thoughts are amplified and make dreams feel more vivid, but there still is no solid connection between age and the content of recurring dreams. 

“I don’t think they’re generally dependent on age; they may be more intense in teens. Again, just because all feelings can tend to be more intense,” Maigler said.

The ideology behind dreams and how they form is often overlooked. However, our brains are such information powerhouses that trying to interpret your dreams can be beneficial in many ways. 

The vast bulk of recurring dreams are filled with uncomfortable feelings, like anxiety, despair, rage, and guilt. These types of dreams will often be shown with a negative instance happening to the protagonist, or when the dreamer themself is in danger. 

Recurring dreams are private and vary per person, and like other dreams, they are usually inhabited by familiar faces and people we know. Recurring dreams may be identical each time, or they may just repeat the same scenes. Be that as it may, there are many common dreams that many people report to have, such as:

  • Falling
  • Flying
  • Car crashes
  • Looking for a toilet
  • Being overwhelmed by house maintenance
  • Not being able to speak
  • Losing teeth
  • Being attacked
  • Public nakedness
  • Returning to school
  • Being unprepared for school or work
  • Being chased or trapped
  • And many more

These dreams, along with most recurring dreams, stem from something happening in our lives.

It’s our subconscious that is working on trying to solve the problem for us”

— Daniel Maigler

Dreams recur mostly due to the brain thinking that there is an unresolved conflict. Numerous studies in regard to dreams point to the idea that they are there to help us control our emotions and adapt to stressful experiences. Dreaming about emotional content might help the dreamer process a sad or challenging occurrence.

“It’s our subconscious that is working on trying to solve the problem for us and trying to figure out how do I slot these feelings and information,” Maigler said.

Our modern lives pull us in multiple directions everyday, causing us to sometimes fail to give our problems and needs the desired attention our body needs. When we ignore happenings in our conscious day-to-day life, they show up elsewhere… they very likely could pop up in our dreams.