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Lars' Dreaming FAQ

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Archive-name: dreams-faq/general

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Dreaming FAQ

Table of Contents:

1. General
1.1. Does everybody dream?
1.2. Why do we dream?
1.3. How can I increase my dream recall?
1.4. How do external stimuli affect my dreams?
1.5. Do substances like drugs, herbs and foods affect our dreams?
1.6. Is it possible to control your dreams?
1.7. Is sleep deprivation dangerous?

2. Dream interpretation and symbols
2.1. Can you interpret this dream for me?
2.2. What does this [symbol] mean?
2.3. Is this [dream scene] common?
2.4. Is there anything special about recurring dreams?

3. Sleep paralysis, walking and talking, night terrors, narcolepsy and nightmares
3.1. What causes sleep paralysis?
3.2. Information about sleep walking
3.3. Information about sleep talking
3.4. What are night terrors?
3.5. What is narcolepsy?
3.6. What causes nightmares?

4. Paranormal issues
4.1. Can dreams predict the future?
4.2. Is it possible to share dreams?
4.3. Can I view distant locations from my dreams?


1. General

1.1. Does everybody dream?
Yes. All humans (and mammals) have REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. The most vivid dreaming
occurs in REM-sleep. You start a new REM phase roughly every 90-minute throughout the whole
night with increasing duration. But all this can change depending on what you eat, if you are
on drugs, or if you have missed your REM sleep for some reason. People stopping with REM
deprivation drugs will experience a REM rebound. So you dream a lot during the night, and most
of your dreams are forgotten. If you don't pay attention to them and only sleep a few hours you
most likely will not remember any dream at all. Dreaming in non-REM tends to be more

1.2. Why do we dream?
Dreaming is highly involved in learning and memory. If you have a bad experience, it will be
digested in your dream. Most likely in a nightmare. Dreams are quite often a reflection of your
day memory. The protein-synthesis is highly active during REM, so if you want to learn, then
staying in REM is a good move. REM is also necessary to supply the cornea with oxygen. Delta
sleep, associated with large, slow brain waves, is what most people call the deepest kind of
sleep, when you are hardest to awaken. It is necessary for the brain/body to rest and heal. A
good balance between delta sleep and REM is important for learning. Growth hormones are also
produced during delta sleep.

1.3. How can I increase my dream recall?
Some people remember every dream they have; others can't remember any dream. But with the right
techniques and enough practice virtually everyone can remember their dreams. The first step is
paying attention to your dreams. Think about them. Write them down. Talk about them. Discuss
them. Your best recall is when you wake up. So you should write them down or record them with a
tape recorder right after you wake up. But spend some time recalling as many dreams and details
you can before you start writing them down. Alarm clocks are dream-killers, so stop using them
if you want to retain dreams. If you wake up naturally will you most likely wake up from REM
sleep. So you should get to bed early so that you don't have to use an alarm clock. You can
still set the alarm clock, but make sure you have gotten to bed so early that you wake up
before the alarm clock goes off. Sleeping longer will also make you dream more. You will almost
literally have continual REM sleep after 8-9 hours. If you sleep 9 hours are you almost bound
to remember at least one dream.
Waking up several times during the night may increase dream recall and possibly induce Lucid
Dreams (see my Lucid Dreaming FAQ). Since dreaming has a lot to do with learning and memory
should you try new activities and learn new things. This will increase dreaming and thereby
dream recall. Drugs, food and herbs may also affect your dream recall. And as usual the power
of suggestion is extremely powerful, so you should state, aloud if you want, your intention to
recall your dreams. Here is also where hypnosis may enter the picture. Listening to hypnotic
tapes may help a lot.

1.4. How do external stimuli affect my dreams?
Your senses never rest. Whatever input you get from hearing, vision, smell, touch or taste may
be incorporated into your dream. You may have dreamed that your alarm clock is ringing in your
dream, while it is really ringing in the physical world too. This is how lucid dreaming devices
work. They give your signals as light or sounds that you have to train yourself to recognize.
But it can go the other way around too. While dreaming lucidly you can command yourself to talk
while dreaming. This way you can record your dream while it is occurring. Having a tape
recorder that turns it self on when you speak comes in handy. You can also train yourself to
move your eyes in a certain pattern.

1.5. Do substances like drugs, herbs and foods affect our dreams?
Yes. During REM protein-synthesis is highly active, so your body needs high levels of amino
acids. The neurotransmitter in use during REM is Acetylcholine. It is made from the B-vitamin
Choline and the vitamin B-5.

But there are more vitamins that can make us dream more. The body can synthesis the B-vitamin
Choline. But in order to do that it needs vitamin B-12, Folic acid (B-9), the amino acids
Methionine and Serine. Vitamins B-12 plays a role in the activation of amino acids during
protein formation. It has also the ability to increase the production of Acetylcholine and
normalize neurotransmissions in the brain.

Vitamin B-6 is another important vitamin. It is a co-enzyme, which participates in over 60
enzymatic reactions involved in the metabolism of amino acids. It is involved in the production
of several body proteins and neurotransmitters. It is particularly indispensable to the action
of amino acid neurotransmitters, like Serotonin, Dopamine, Melatonin, and Norepinephrine, which
effect brain function. It is also involved in the metabolism of Selenium, Calcium, and

Melatonin is a neurotransmitter/hormone that is only active during sleep. It is being
metabolized when you fall asleep from Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is being metabolized
from the amino acid Tryptophan. Melatonin increases non-REM sleep and makes it easier for you
to fall asleep. But it has also an interesting rebound effect that gives more frequent and
vivid dreams. The vividness might even give you a lucid dream.

The amino acid Tryptophan can be metabolized into Serotonin and Niacin (B-3). Vitamin B-6
promotes this conversion. Taking Niacin or Nicotine patches will increase the Serotonin
production. The more Niacin you take, the more Serotonin is produced and more Melatonin is
metabolized. Calcium and Magnesium promotes Serotonin production as well. Zinc is in every cell
of the body and is a part of over 200 enzymes, so Zinc supplements may increase REM-sleep, too.

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) is a very important B-vitamin. It flows easily through the brain's
blood barrier, where it is converted into Choline. During REM, Choline is added the coenzyme A
(Vitamin B-5), and we have Acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter in use during REM.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-TryptoPhan) is a Serotonin precursor that also flows quite easy through the
brain's blood barrier. It is a good alternative to Melatonin.

Vitamin C helps metabolizing several amino acids and hormones. It is also important to have
adequate levels of amino acids. A few important ones are Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Methionine,
Cysteine, Serine and Tryptophan.

Using Tobacco, Alcohol or Coffee prohibits the absorption of necessary vitamins and amino
acids. Depressants suppress REM sleep, one is Alcohol, but taken in right doses can create a
rebound effect so that you wake up remembering many vivid dreams. And anti-depressants may
increase dream recall. Caffeine will make you sleep lighter, will increase your dream recall
and maybe even give you a lucid dream. Herbs like Valerian, Mugwort, Mullein, Kava Kava,
Dittany of Crete, St. Johns Wort, Calea Zacatechichi, Salvia Divinorum, Scutellaria Indica,
Licorice Root, Vervain, Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Datura, Bee Pollen, Catnip, Hops, Scullcap,
Mimosa, Lavender, Damiana, Withania Somnifera, Passionflower, Chamomile, Cardamom, Gotu Kola,
Ginkgo Biloba, Ibogaine, Verbena, Rose, Cinnamon, Marigold, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Holly, Yarrow
and Anise may help you dream more, recall more or even have a Lucid Dream. Make sure you know
more about these herbs before you use them: some are to be used in pillows, some are to be
smoked, some are to be used in tea, etc. And finally we have psychedelic drugs like DXM that
may induce Lucid Dreams. Some of the drugs and herbs can be addictive, and be poisonous if
taken in too large doses. Crystals and Magnets may also affect your dreams.

1.6. Is it possible to control your dreams?
Yes. If you are aware that you are dreaming can you develop full conscious control over the
dream. These are referred to as lucid dreams and it is one of the most exciting part about
dreaming. But more on this will be discussed on the Lucid Dreaming FAQ. Have you tried Virtual
Reality? Well, VR is a flop compared to Lucid Dreaming. Things can't get more virtually real
than in a lucid dream. You may use all your senses in a lucid dream, yes, even your psychic

1.7. Is sleep deprivation dangerous?
Yes. REM deprivation:
Increased frequency of occurrence, duration and intensity of REM.
Increase in seizure threshold, and progressive rise in heart rate.
Increased activity, food motivation and sexual behavior.
No major emotional problems.

Delta sleep-deprivation:
Prolonged sleep deprivation (+48 hours) results in severe mental disturbance, attention
deficit, withdrawing, visual complaints, hallucinations and time distortion. After 5 days you
may even end up in a mental institution.

2. Dream interpretation and symbols

2.1. Can you interpret this dream for me?
As shown by Dream researcher Jon Tolaas, day-memory is often incorporated into the dream. Many
times negative, ambivalent or neutral events are incorporated. It is difficult to answer why
mostly negative events are incorporated, it may be that the negative events make stronger
impressions on us. Or that not many positive events occur during the day. It may be that the
brain is working on these negative events so that it may handle it better next time. The most
qualified person to interpret your dream is yourself, you know all the details from the dream,
you remember what you did the previous day and you know what your problems are. But dream
interpretation isn't always that easy. If you fail to interpret your dream, it is nice to know
that there are many people on the internet that you can turn to. A good place to start is
posting your dream to alt.dreams. But sit down and think about your dream before doing so, try
to find the meaning and try to think about what you have done the last few days. Keep in mind
that the language of dreams are metaphors. Sharing dreams with others are a great way of paying
attention to your dreams. Writing them down, reading those of others and discussing them will
increase your dream recall. Be sure to include factors from your life that might be relevant to
your dream. This may help on the interpretation.

2.2. What does this [symbol] mean?
Symbols are one way of interpreting dreams. Researchers have tried to find, for each common
dream occurrence, a psychological situation that matches the dream in some way and link it as a
cause. A well-known example of this approach is Freud's interpretation. Asking for symbols
allows for (sometimes too easy) interpretation of dreams by given rules. But this is a
questionably approach. Dream interpretation using a catalog of symbols doesn't take into
account individual differences between dreamers. You can imagine this flaw by taking into
account that the cultural background is an important point that should not be neglected.
Freud's theories, that give high importance to hidden signs of sexual desires, are based on a
society that has suppressed sexuality. And so on. In a more global context, asking for special
symbols is of dubious value. Nonetheless, in a certain given context, these symbols can have a
valuable meaning.

2.3. Is this [dream scene] common?
Probably so, one way of finding that out is posting your dream to alt.dreams. You might also
stick around and see if other people post similar dreams. Or you might check the archive at and maybe do a search on a few keywords from your dream.

2.4. Is there anything special about recurring dreams?
Yes. If you have recurring patterns or themes in your dreams, they deserve special attention.
They indicate thoughts that occupy the dreamer a lot, consciously or unconsciously. You should
try to compare the context of your dream with your current life situation or problems. It is
very likely your subconscious that is trying to tell you something. You should try to figure
out what the dream means and make some changes to your life.

3. Sleep paralysis, walking and talking, night terrors, narcolepsy and nightmares

3.1. What causes sleep paralysis?
Your body is paralyzed during REM, your body can't even stand (This is why sleep walking happen
in other stages of sleep). Sometimes does the body fails to turn on your muscles immediately
after REM. Normally this condition lasts only a few seconds, but sometimes can it go on for
minutes, which causes a very scary feeling. But just remain calm, it will pass. And it is not
at all dangerous. You should also know that sleep paralysis is great for leaving your body.
Again, leaving your body is not dangerous either.

3.2. Information about sleep walking
The body is paralyzed during REM, so sleep walking occurs in other stages of sleep. It is quite
common among children, and can be quite confusing if you find yourself in other places than
your bed when you wake up. People have even managed to lock themselves outside their own house.
You can dream in other stages than REM, but these dreams are much less vivid.

3.3. Information about sleep talking
Your whole body is normally paralyzed during REM. Your senses remain active, and sometimes it
happens that you partly act out your dream. So you may talk while sleeping if your muscles
aren't fully paralyzed. We know that we can dream in non-REM sleep, maybe not as vivid, but
enough to talk. Most sleep talking occurs in non-REM. In a Lucid Dream can you also command
yourself to talk while dreaming.

3.4. What are night terrors?
Night terrors are nightmare-like attacks that occur during non-REM sleep which often involve
movement and screaming. Those experiencing them usually have no dream recall or recollection of
the experience. Young children, about 2% of them, mostly experience this. It occurs usually
within two hours after going to bed. A good way of relieving these experiences is finding out
when these terrors occur, and then set the alarm clock to 15 minutes before the terrors start.
Do this the rest of the night, for seven days. In most cases does the terrors stop. If they
start again, then do the program once more.

3.5. What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with no known cause. Its onset can occur at any time
throughout life, but its peek onset is during the teen years. The main characteristic of
narcolepsy is excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness, even after adequate nighttime

A person with narcolepsy is likely to become drowsy or to fall asleep, often at inappropriate
times and places. Daytime sleep attacks may occur with or without warning and may be
irresistible. They may also experience periods of catalepsy, temporary decrease or loss of
muscle control, especially when getting excited. Hypnagogic hallucinations, vivid, often
frightening, dream-like experiences, occur while falling asleep or waking up. Sleep paralysis,
temporary inability to talk or move when falling asleep or waking up. It may last a few seconds
to minutes. In addition, nighttime sleep may be fragmented with frequent awakenings. Daytime
sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations can also occur in people who do not
have narcolepsy. If sufficiently troublesome can be reduced significantly in some people with
Tricyclic antidepressants (eg. Imipramine), which suppress REM sleep.

3.6. What causes nightmares?
Nightmares are often a product of our fears. You will tend not to have nightmares if you rid
yourself of fears. So find out what your fears are, and try to conquer them. Nightmares,
however, can also be an early symptom that a disease is developing or that an attack is about
to occur.

If you are afraid of dying, then you should know that a lot suggest that you have a life after
death, and whenever you want can you return to the physical world. This is called
reincarnation. Just study Ian Stevenson's work if you want scientific evidence. If you have
other fears, like spiders, there are a few effective things you can do about them. We have
virtual reality, but since we are dealing with dreaming here anyway, it is better to bring up
Lucid Dreaming. Whenever you have a nightmare you should try to visualize a different ending on
the dream. By doing this you may experience that it is a dream and we all know that dreams
aren't dangerous. When lucidity is gained, you can confront whatever is scaring you. Once that
is done can you continue exploring the wonderful world of Lucid Dreaming.

4. Paranormal issues

4.1. Can dreams predict the future?
Yes. This is done all the time. I guess you have experienced a deja-vu. Most children do. Some
people have these experiences as adults too, and some have even gained control over this
ability. It is possible to travel in time from a Lucid Dream. But this will be discussed in the
Lucid Dreaming FAQ. These experiences that predict the future have been labeled Precognitive
dreams. Spontaneous Precognitive dreams happen all over the world and are being frequently
reported. But not many controlled scientific experiments have been done on this phenomenon, but
those that I am aware of prove them to be real. Two experiments done by Maimonides Hospital in
Brooklyn, New York gave significant results. The testperson was the psychic Malcom Bessent, and
the project was lead by Montague Ullman. Bessent slept in the laboratory for 8 nights, were he
tried to dream about an unknown event that should take place each morning after he woke up. It
was a hit 5 out of those 8 nights. Chance for this being a coincidence is 18:100 000
(p.=.00018). The second experiment tried more to avoid possible explanations like telepathy and
clairvoyance. The experiment lasted 16 nights, where 8 of them were precognitive nights and 8
of them were normal nights. What happen the morning after the precognitive night was decided by
random numbers. On this experiment was there also 5 hits out of 8 nights.

Those wanting to study the details can go over the reports:
Krippner, S., Ullman, M., and Honorton, C.
A precognitive dream study with a single subject.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 65:192-203,1971.

Krippner, S., Honorton, C., and Ullman, M.
A second precognitive dream study with Malcolm Bessent.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66:269-279,1972.

Ullman, M., and Krippner, S., with Alan Vaughan.
Dream Telepathy. New Yourk: Macmillan, 1973.

Here are other reports on the subject of precognitive dreams:
Sondow, N. The decline of precognized events with the passage of time:
Evidence from spontaneous dreams.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1988, vol. 82,

Stowell, M. S. Precognitive Dreams: A phenomenological study. Part I:
Methodology and sample cases.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1997, vol. 91,

Stowell, M. S. Precognitive Dreams: A phenomenological study. Part II:
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1997, vol. 91,

Stevenson, I. A review and analysis of paranormal experiences connected
with the sinking of the Titanic.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1960, 54, 153-171.

Stevenson, I. Seven more paranormal experiences associated with the sinking
of the Titanic.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1965, 59, 211-225.

Stevenson, I. Precognition of disasters.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1970, 64, 187-210.

Van de Castle, R. L. Sleep and Dreams. In: B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of
Parapsychology. New York & London:
Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977, pp. 473-489.

Barker, J. C. Premonitions of the Aberfan disaster.
Journal of the American society for Psychical Research, 1967, 44, 169-181.

Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (JASPR) is
available by subscription from the
American Society for Psychical Research,
5 West 73rd St
New York, NY 10023

Other books with evidence on the precognitive phenomenon is
The Conscious Universe from
and a book by the name Margins of Reality.

If you want to have precognitive dreams, you should check out my Lucid Dreaming FAQ. And if you
suspect that you have had a precognitive dream, you should write it down for later

4.2. Is it possible to share dreams?
Yes. Dreams can be shared and people may even have conversations with others with 100%
accuracy. This is an interesting concept, and again you should be lucid in order to make
conscious contact with others in your dream. Many people experience similar dreams with friends
or relatives. This is not uncommon either. Shared dreaming is also called mutual dreaming.
Telepathy is an area that has been done more research on. The same laboratory that experimented
with precognitive dreams, have also experimented with dreamtelepathy. They have done 13 various
experiments with dreamtelepathy, 9 of those gave statistical significant results.

Here are some references to some reports and books:
Ullman, M., Krippner, S. Dream Studies and telepathy.
Parapsychological Monographs No. 12. New Youk:
Parapsychological Foundation, 1970.

Ullman, M., and Krippner, S. with Alan Vaughan: Dream Telepathy.
New York: Macmillian Publishing Company, Inc., 1973.

Krippner, S. Dreams and other altered conscious states.
Journal of Communication, 25(1): 173-182, Winter 1975.

Tolaas, J. and Ullman, M. Extrasensory communication and dreams.
I: B. Wolman (ed.) Handbook of Dreams. New York:
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979, pp. 168-202.

Van De Castle, R. Sleep and dreams. I: B. Wolman, (ed.)
Handbook of Dreams. New York:
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977, pp. 473-499.

Krippner, S., Honorton, Ch., and Ullman, M.
A longdistance "sensory bombardment" study of ESP in dreams.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 65:468-475, 1971.

Krippner, S., Honorton, Ch., and Ullman, M. A long-distance ESP dream
study with Malcolm Bessent. Journal of the American Society of
Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine, 20:9-17, 1973.

Kogna, I. M. The informational aspect of telepathy. Paper presented
in absentia, at UCLA symposium, A New Look at ESP, 1969.

Mitchell, E. An ESP test from Apollo 14. Journal of Parapsychology.
35: 89-107, 1971.

Hall, C. Experimente zur telepathischen Beeinflussung von Träumen.
Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und
Grenzgebiete der Psychologie, 10:18-47, 1967.

Ross, C. Telepathy and dreams: An attempt at replication.
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University, 1972 (Mimeo).

Norquiest, J. P. A multidimensional space model for extrasensory
transmission of mental concepts. Unpublished Master's thesis in
psychology. Sacramento: California State University, 1977.

Other books with evidence on telepathy is The Conscious Universe
and Margins of Reality.

If you want to learn how you can share a dream, you should check out my Lucid Dreaming FAQ. If
you suspect having had a shared dream, then write it down for later comparing of notes.

4.3. Can I view distant locations from my dreams?
Yes. This is mostly called Clairvoyance, Remote Viewing, Out of Body Experience or Astral
Projection. It is a good way of exploring the Universe, there are no limits to distance,
destination or speed. You can leave your body from a Lucid Dream or on the onset of sleep. How
to leave your body from a dream will be discussed in my Lucid Dreaming FAQ. And you might also
check out my Out of Body Experiences FAQ for more info on this. SRI Experiments: 1973-1988. In
1988 Edwin May and his colleagues analyzed all psi experiments conducted at SRI from 1973 until
that time. The analysis was based on 154 experiments, consisting of more than 26,000 separate
trials, conducted over those sixteen years. Of those, just over a thousand trials were
laboratory remote-viewing tests. The statistical results of this analysis indicated odds
against chance of 10^20 to one (that is, more than a billion billion to one). So chance is not
a viable explanation.

Some references:
Dean Radin. Ph.D. The Conscious Universe: The scientific truth of psychic
phenomena. 91-109, 1997.

Robert G. Jahn and Brenda J. Dunne. Margins of Reality: The Role of
Consciousness in the Physical World. 149-191, 1987.

If you suspect that you have seen a distant location, then write it down when you wake up for
later verification. Good Luck.

Credit: Thanks to Jon Tolaas, people at alt.dreams, alt.out-of-body and various mailing lists.
Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for any action you may take after reading this FAQ.
Last update: February 1999
Copyright © Lars Rune Foleide ( -1999

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