Although some studies have been done on dreams, and the research indicates that dreaming serves a purpose, there’s a lot that we don’t understand about dreams. For example, what it means when you dream about someone? Sometimes it’s obvious, like when you dream about your crush or boyfriend in a happy setting, but this isn’t always the case.
It’s not unusual to have a dream about someone that makes you feel unhappy, awkward or uncomfortable. And the more vibrant the dream, the worse you can feel even after you wake up. It’s logical to wonder what are dreams mean, but you might not be able to answer every question.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT DREAMS
Before we delve into what it means when you dream about someone, let’s take a look at some of the science we do know about dreams. For example, you might know that dreams occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) portion of your sleep cycle. But did you also know we can dream during other parts of the sleep cycle?
Dreams play out during our REM cycle in an attempt to help our brains deal with emotions. Without a proper REM cycle, it can be more difficult for us to deal with feelings in the waking world . There is also a correlation between decreased sleep and mental disorders. Depression, for example, often causes people awaken in the early hours of the morning and find themselves unable to get back to sleep .
Furthermore, dreams can have a real effect on your mood when you’re awake, so you don’t want to keep dreaming about people and painful situations if you can help it. This is due to the fact that vibrant and strange dreams have links to the amygdala and hippocampus . When you’re awake, those parts of the brain deal with emotions .
Finally, dreams may feel personal, but there are common themes and symbols across the human experience. These include things such as flying, losing your teeth or losing money. One researcher, Calvin Hall, conducted studies of over 50,000 dreams and was able to predict parts of dreams based on what he knew about characters within them . Hall’s research even unveiled that college students are more likely to dream about sex than middle aged people.
While the science is interesting, there’s plenty we don’t yet know about dreams. But we can suggest some reasons why the people in your dreams are there.
TRIGGERS AND YOUR DREAMS
Sometimes it’s easy to determine what it means when you dream about someone. When something in the daytime triggers your mind to think about them, they can pop up in your dreams that night or in the near future. There are a variety of triggers, including:
- Seeing the person during the day.
- A song, photo, movie or something else reminded you of them.
- Someone else was talking about them.
- You saw someone who resembled them.
It’s sometimes easy to tell when something or someone has triggered your dreams. One purpose of your dreams is to solve problems. So you might dream about a project at work, your clogged-up plumbing or a fight that you’re currently having with your mom. If you’re nervous about having sex with someone, you may have dreams about them because of sexual anxiety.
On the other hand, you may not even realize that someone is on your mind if your memory is quickly jogged, but that won’t stop your brain from adding them to your dreams.
IS THAT REALLY YOU?
Sometimes your brain adds the wrong face to a person when you dream. You may be dreaming about your man, for example, but he might have the face of your ex. Identities in dreams easily shift, so you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned that you still want your ex or that you have romantic or sexual feelings for someone who is inappropriate. Your brain may simply be inputting the more familiar face because it’s easier.
WHAT YOUR BRAIN WANTS
Furthermore, dreams use symbols and ideas to represent thoughts and feelings, so there may be no desire to make out with your boss just because it happened in a dream.
Some people believe that when sex, in particular, happens in your dreams, it represents something else. It can represent a merger between you and the person who you’re having sex with because you wish that you had one or more of his qualities. Your boss probably has more money and respect than you do, which might be why you dream about sex with him.
Another thing that dreams like this can mean is that you desire emotional intimacy. More on that in this post. It’s easy to understand that sex or kissing represents a type of intimacy, and your mind may use this to depict your desire to be closer to a friend or family member. In the waking world, this type of relationship is entirely inappropriate. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as part of your dream.
WHEN SEX IS SEX IN A DREAM
Sometimes a sex dream is exactly what it means. When you dream about the attractive cashier, your favorite actor or even your man, it might be time for you to do something about it when you’re awake. Your body may be craving intimate touch or orgasm, and those thoughts spill over to your dreams. If your menstrual cycle or pregnancy has made you hornier, you might have more sexy dreams.
There are people who even desire to have sex dreams, so they’ll read erotica, watch sexy movies and/or masturbate before bed. But if you’re not capable of having orgasms during sleep, your dreams may leave you wanting more when you make up, so it might be time for you to have a hookup if your dreams are becoming too much.
ALTER YOUR DREAMS FOR THE BETTER
Similarly, you’ll want to deal with any frustration, sadness or anxiety in the real world that might be causing you to have dreams that are uncomfortable or negative.
Resolve conflicts with friends or coworkers. Deal with relationship issues. Figure out your finances. Get over your broken heart. Do whatever it is that sets your mind at ease so that your dreams and sleep are more peaceful.
If you want to start – or stop – dreaming about people, you might consider lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the practice of controlling your dreams, and you may be able to develop this ability. The cornerstone of lucid dreaming is knowing when you’re dreaming. We all sometimes have dreams where we have this awareness, but lucid dreaming requires you to hone it.
When you become skilled at lucid dreaming, you could potentially live out fantasies, even if you can’t experience them in real life.
Lucid dreaming may be able to prevent you from dreaming about people whom you’re trying not to think about or to have nicer dreams. But it’s harder for some people, so you may simply want to make sense of why people are in your dreams, instead.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can always decipher your dreams or change them. Sometimes they just make no sense. You can’t always know what it means when you dream about someone, and that’s okay. If you can’t figure it out, let it go. You may never have that dream again, anyway.