What's your craziest secret dream

Cologne -

Again and again this dark staircase that never ends. A loved one dies. The colleague from financial accounting becomes a hot-blooded lover. Dreams have their own logic, but there are clues to decipher their meaning. Provided you even remember them the next day.

Dreams can last three minutes or an hour and a half

Everyone dreams four to five times a night. Dreams occur especially in the physically active REM phase (see box). "Sometimes they are only three minutes long, sometimes up to one and a half hours," explains Günter Harnisch, head of the Society for Dream Research and Dream Therapy in Warendorf (North Rhine-Westphalia).

REM sleep is one of the four sleep phases. REM is derived from "Rapid Eye Movements", in English, rapid eye movements. The brain is highly active during this phase. The dreams are very emotional - positive as well as negative. The dreams from the non-REM periods, on the other hand, are more factual in nature, which is why many did not remember them.

But you don't always dream the same amount and with the same intensity. Certain situations in life are considered to be particularly dreamy: “During puberty and exams, when retiring, during a quarrel with a partner or even during pregnancy,” says Harnisch.

Dreams reflect what concerns people

Prof. Michael Schredl, scientific director of the sleep laboratory at the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim, explains that dreams are initially the “natural ability of the brain” to generate a kind of subjective experience during sleep. There are dreams that are stressful. "But in the end, dreams are not alarm signals, they reflect what concerns you - whether these are beautiful things, stress or burdensome things." Sometimes the nocturnal cinema also shows scenes or experiences that initially have nothing to do with their own world do have. "That shows how creative the brain is sometimes," says Schredl.

For Brigitte Holzinger, feelings play a crucial role in dreaming. "Dreams are feelings in moving pictures," she says. Holzinger heads the Institute for Consciousness and Dream Research in Vienna and has published several books on the subject. Those who deal with the dreams and learn to read them can evaluate the feelings from the night and grow from them. "The dream is something like a little psychotherapy."

These are the most common dream motifs - and that is what they mean:

Pursuit or attack dream

Dreams in which you are followed, someone or something is after you and which you run away from, psychologists call avoidance behavior. This also includes when you are attacked in a dream or attacked by one or more strangers. This is what it means: I feel pressured, a problem depresses me.

Injury / death

If you dream that you (seriously) injured yourself or even of your own death, then this does not indicate real dangers, but rather that the person feels emotionally hurt or destroyed.

Even if a loved one is injured and / or dies in a dream, this is not an omen of death. Rather, it means that the dreaming is afraid to lose this person.

Tooth loss

In the general dream interpretation, the motive of tooth loss is representative of fear of loss to family, finances, physical attractiveness, job. Or for a lack of recognition, loss of control or a lack of assertiveness.

Damage and loss of property

Whoever loses or damages important and expensive objects in a dream may feel guilty because he has lost something else valuable in life.

Sex with a partner, a stranger, or the ex

Anyone who dreams of sex with their own partner usually has a balanced and happy relationship. If the sex partner is a well-known but not intimately trusted person, this can indicate a desire to be closer to this person, but this does not have to be of a sexual nature. Such a dream can show that one admires certain qualities of this person.

If you dream of having sex with your ex, it is not necessarily about the ex. Rather, it could be that you are reliving old behavioral patterns in the relationship.

If you dream of sex with a stranger, then it is less about the sex itself, but more about your own personality, preferences or feelings that you want to live out, but in reality you cannot or do not trust yourself.

Get lost

In the dream one rushes through (strange) streets, through a park or in a subway network no longer knows where to. After all, you have completely lost your bearings and are left alone. If you get lost in a dream, you may feel let down in real life and have the feeling that you can no longer find your way.

Something always fails

If something goes wrong repeatedly in a dream, one can almost despair of it and try again and again. This dream motif represents frustrations in real life.

Paralyzed, locked up

If one dreams that one cannot move and can only watch a process silently and passively, that stands for a problem for which we have no solution.


Suddenly the ground sags from under your feet and you fall. And falls. And falls. The dream interpretation assumes that we have literally lost the ground under our feet because of one thing. The dream tells us: "I don't get enough support from others."

School exam

Anyone who dreams of sitting in the final exam, the Abitur exams or the exam exam again and again feels that they are constantly being put to the test in real life.

Come too late

Once again just missed the train, the plane takes off in front of your nose and you can only see the door slam from your nose. Who comes too late in a dream can all too often have the feeling that an important opportunity has been missed.

This can be done against nightmares

Nightmares can depress the mood in the long term - if they plague those affected over and over again. Around five percent of the population suffer from nightmares, says dream researcher Michael Schredl. “Most of them try to forget them again right away.” In the short term, this might also work. But those affected cannot cope with their problems like this.

To do this, they have to deal with the dream. One method for this is the so-called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy. “The basic idea is to come up with a coping strategy for the nightmare situation,” says Schredl. In the waking state, those affected then consider an alternative solution to the nightmare and repeatedly imagine this variant.

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Remember in a dream that you are dreaming right now

Another possibility is the technique of lucid dreaming. That means becoming aware in the dream that you are dreaming, explains Holzinger. Then you can influence him. Lucid dreaming can be trained, for example through relaxation techniques or hypnosis.

Brigitte Holzinger emphasizes that it is important to recognize the underlying feelings and experiences, even with nightmares, and to deal with them in order to develop further. "Even the nightmare wants to draw our attention to something and basically heal us." (Sar / with material from dpa)