A Dreamer of Dreams

Dreaming Woman
Dreaming Woman by lunarubia on Flickr

Last night I dreamed that I took my kids to a train museum and when we got the pictures from our field trip developed, every single one was blurry and not of anything important. Also, I had a cousin in the dream whose girlfriend was cheating on him and the girlfriend couldn’t understand why he didn’t like that.

And that’s pretty par for the course for me in a night. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you’ll notice that I occasionally post what I dreamed about the night before, if it’s especially entertaining. I would say it’s rare for me to have a dreamless night.

When I was a kid, this meant that I had lots of repeating nightmares, which I think is normal for kids. I still remember the most scary ones; they usually involved me losing a family member. As I got older, those eventually stopped and I started having dreams Salvador Dali would paint. Lots of random. If you sift through all the random dreams, you’ll find two or three dreams filled with symbolic imagery: stone, water, wilderness, blood, books. But most of my dreams are of the random kind. They make sleeping fun!

I was in high school when I discovered that not everyone has dreams almost every night. In fact, some people don’t seem to ever remember a dream. This shocked me and I remember commenting, “If I didn’t have dreams, I don’t think I’d bother sleeping!” To sleep and never dream sounded like a sad existence to me.

On the other hand, there are some people who seem to always have meaningful dreams that guide their lives, who probably very honestly can say, “I know that I am a visionary wo/man.” The colors, the shapes, the people in their dreams: all representative of meaning, depth, and the direction their lives should take. I’m a little jealous of these people, but that would mean the end of my fun nonsense dreams, and I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.

I am currently pregnant, and pregnancy is notorious for a higher-than-average dream count. More sex dreams, more nonsense dreams, and a few birthing dreams. But in the last few weeks, I’ve had what I consider “urgency” dreams. When I wake from an “urgency” dream, I feel an immediate impulse to accomplish a certain task. Maybe this is how my subconscious “nests” while I’m pregnant?

Last week, during a nap, I dreamed that I went back to school for a master’s in mathematics. While there, I decided (again) that I didn’t want to pursue math professionally, but when I woke, I felt the strong desire to sign up for a class of some sort. I spent the first half hour after waking searching the open enrollment classes at my local university, but ultimately decided on a Coursera class to test the academic waters before committing money to that pursuit.

This week, I dreamed I finally emailed someone I’ve been meaning to. That email will progress my “career” a little bit. When I woke up, I rededicated myself to writing that email… and did so that afternoon. I figure it doesn’t hurt to follow the impulses, since I don’t usually get them.

So all these dreams, from nonsense to meaningful, has made me want to ask the Exponent community: are you also a dreamer? Surely, I’m not the only one. Or are you one who never remembers a dream? Do you have nonsense dreams or meaningful dreams? And if someone has an insight on why some people’s brains dream and others’ don’t, please share! I know medications, foods, and hormones can affect dreams. Have you had a period in your life where you’ve been flooded with dreams or experienced a drought of them?

Heather Moore-Farley
Heather Moore-Farley
TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.


  1. I’m jealous of all your fun dreams! I dream, but they are stress dreams. When I was teaching, I would dream that the principal had walked into my classroom and I didn’t have a lesson plan and had no idea what I was doing. Recently I dreamed that I lost my kids on an outing. Sometimes I dream violent weird things, like sewing the lips shut of some man. I’ve had a dream about Santa trying to kill me with a knife. (Those last two were when I was pregnant.)

  2. I dream very vividly, but they’re mostly stress dreams, at least the ones that hit me hard. I dream about being trapped under ice, or having all my teeth fall out, or forgetting to go to class all term and then having an exam. I did have a truly lovely flying dream about a week ago though. I know Freud (?) said that those are really about sex, but I figure sex dreams are about sex, and flying dreams are about flying. I couldn’t really soar, but I could get above the housetops enough to cruise. It was really lovely.

  3. I can have pretty vivid dreams. Mostly stories; I keep thinking that if I could remember them well and had the talent, they would make fantastic books. Often I only remember bits and pieces, and I enjoy filling in the plots myself afterward.

    I’ve also had several dreams where I find myself screaming to be heard. Often several nights in a row. When that starts happening, I know that I am silencing myself in some aspect of my life, and it’s starting to bother my soul. I wrote about it here.

    I’m with you though; I’d miss it if I stopped dreaming.

  4. I have one reoccurring dream that puzzles me. I often dream that I somehow didn’t finish my undergrad, so my husband and I figure out some crazy plan for me to finish my last semester in Tucson. And, for some reason, to finish my degree requires me to move back into the dorms–every time. It’s kind of awesome when a friend from college realizes she didn’t quite graduate either so we shake our heads and proceed to figure out our schedules.

    I never dream about having to go back and finish high school or my master’s. It’s only my undergrad. So weird.

  5. I have a recurring dream that I am in school and can’t quite remember if I signed up for a certain class, and if so, when and where it is, and I am panicking because I may fail this class that I may or may not be enrolled in because I don’t know how to attend it. I also have equally nerdy dreams about projects I am working on. Yesterday I was working on a talk for church, so I dreamed that I was giving the talk, and people weren’t responding to it very well, and eventually I realized the problem was that i had forgotten to go up to the podium and was delivering the talk by yelling from my pew.

  6. I dream (and remember) often. Mostly about ex-loves, which always feels a little nightmare-ish when I wake up. I have had exactly one dream that I would classify as a vision or revelation. In it someone close to me disclosed something fairly troubling that I didn’t know, and in the dream I responded in a particular way. When I woke up I felt strongly that I needed to call the individual even though I disbelieved the information I had been told in the dream. A few months later I sat in a room with that person, and he told me everything he had told me in the dream, word for word, and I knew that I was supposed to respond how I did previously. It was one of the holiest experiences I have had.

    My husband very rarely remembers dreams, but I suspect it is because he very rarely gets enough shut-eye to sleep deeply enough to dream. My father, on the other hand, is a Very visionary man.

  7. I am a dreamer of dreams – and most of my dreams are meaningful to me. One the surface, they are sometimes a bit crazy, but I have grown to understand that symbols that my mind creates. There are strong feelings that are often associated with my dreams – and those feelings have helped me to understand my dreams.

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