Where do dreams come from?

Dreams Part 2

Where do our dreams come from?  It’s an interesting question. 

Let’s start with some neuroscience. In a part of our brain called the Limbic System, we have an area which contains all our long term memories, called the “hippocampus”. After all we need a storage system for our vast memories and experiences. Like an endless filling cabinet, we can’t carry all our vast memory systems and experiences around with us in the foremost of our minds on a day to day basis.  Therefore we store them in our filling cabinet. 

It processes almost thirty billion bytes of data per second and it records all our significant experiences that we have, from the time of our birth to our final breath.  The filling cabinet doesn’t recognise logic or reasoning but has its own language.  It recognises – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and instinct, in other words, it relies on our sensory perceptions. 


Let’s just run a bit further with this. Suppose we’re chatting and a fly passes by us, are we really going to bat an eyelid? After all, a simple fly is quite harmless; it possess no threat, so we wave it away and carry on chatting.  Now, let’s suppose it’s a wasp; now this becomes a potential threat, as a wasp can sting us and cause a reactive pain.  Our audio hearing perceives this threat through our hearing, so we’ll stop talking and look around to see where the threat is.  This is the learnt and conditioned information putting us on high alert and so we react accordingly. 

The same applies with the threat of potential aggression or risk of attack, we react accordingly.  We’ll either remove ourselves from the threat or confront it (flight or fight).  Our sensory perceptions are working for us at an unconscious and conscious level.  A foul smell or taste we don’t like can have us wrinkling our noses or even gagging; a gut feeling can tell us that something is not right.

We’re collecting and gathering files in our filling cabinet and our environmental existence contributes mostly to this.  It forms a blueprint as to how we see and evaluate our internal world about ourselves, as well as the safety of our external world.  In other words, we become shaped by the filling cabinet, good and not so good experiences.  It’s from these file snap shots that our dreams come, randomly all mixed up according to what happening in our lives in the present as well as the past. 

Understanding the connection.

Connected to this integrated function and next to the filling cabinet (hippocampus) is the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions and fear-learning.  It links areas of the cortex that process higher cognitive information with hypothalamic and brainstem systems that control lower metabolic responses (e.g. touch, pain, sensitivity and respiration).  This allows the amygdala to coordinate physiological responses based on cognitive information. 

If we experience a frightening dream, our body will also react automatically with symptoms such as;

  • rapid heart rate,
  • dry mouth
  • perspiration

This is why we can awaken from a bad dream feeling emotionally overwhelmed or a happy dream only to realise that we are chuckling with laughter.

Next time we’ll explore a weird dream and give it a rational meaning.

Dreams, The Labyrinth of the Unconscious Realm

Dreams part 1

Our dreams come to us from the unconscious part of the mind and speak to us of our hidden fears and desires           

            Many therapists will tell you when working with clients, one of the most common statements made at the start of many a session is “I had the strangest dream the other night” or “I’ve been having really weird dreams lately about ………..” It teaches and shows us that dreams are a large part of the therapeutic process and that therapy has already stated to work well for the client.  If we were to take the view that dreams are snippets of mumbo jumbo, let’s dispel this myth right now and instead ask this question. Why does there always seemed to be a connection between some part of a person’s dream and the issues they encounter in their waking life, before the dream? 

Why do we use the very old term of “Follow your dreams”? 

This is because we know that one of the functions of dreams is to express our desires and gratifications. This is emphasised in the ones we feel too embarrassed to admit to ourselves.  Likewise dreams can also mask our deeper fears and anxieties at a level we can’t even begin to fathom.  Something too horrible to contemplate or too horrific to remember, or something we want to avoid facing up to can become surpressed at a deeper level of the unconscious mind. Past trauma or incident or unhealthy behaviour pattern, begins to manifest itself in the symbolic language of dreams.  Likewise with painful memories, our dreams can have a way of letting us know upon our waking, that unresolved issues are ready to be dealt with.

Such is the power of our dreams, that they can be disturbing. 

When we experience a nightmare, we are known to thrash about in our beds, shout aloud and sob our hearts out; because of the phenomenal gripping power of a dream.  The first waking moments after a nightmare can leave us feeling emotionally overwhelmed and unbearably vulnerable with a pounding heart, accompanied by perspiration and not really sure of what’s reality or fantasy.  We know that we can be left feeling completely disorientated, desolated and even in the pits of despair.  Whatever terminology people use to describe their dreams, we’ve all experienced them from time to time, the ones that throw us off kilter for a while and the wonderful funny and joyous ones we really don’t want to wake up from.  They are a part of us; they live deep within the bottomless labyrinth of the unconscious mind and psyche.

They speak a perplexing language all of their own in symbols. These can be difficult to fathom and can stir up the most disturbing and pleasant of human emotions. This especially in the ones dreampt in vivid colour.


Next time we will be looking at where dreams come from and their symbolic language.

Hypnotherapy for Insomnia

The way insomnia works.

People with insomnia often believe that they are “Insomniacs”; i.e. genetically predisposed to insomnia. Nothing can be further from the truth. Every living organism has a dormant period, so sleep is natural, therefore insomnia is unnatural.

In general insomnia is caused by an underlying anxiety which can be about relationships, financial worries, self-esteem issues and many other anxieties. Each client is different. However, by using hypnotherapy for Insomnia we can work out what is going on and resolve the issues at a subconscious level, leading you back to a natural sleep pattern.

Using hypnotherapy for insomnia

 “Nearly 30% of the population has some form of insomnia. Insomnia is nearly always underpinned by anxiety and this anxiety interrupts the normal sleep pattern. This anxiety is what people with insomnia tend to ruminate about whilst attempting to sleep, which is what hypnotherapy for insomnia targets. This rumination generates high levels of anxiety and hence an increased level of alertness within the insomniac and therefore sleep eludes them. Sometimes this anxiety is so low level that the person may not be very aware of it and therefore believes there is no reason for the lack of sleep.”

People with insomnia often have a multitude of problems associated with their sleep disorder. Problems associated with insomnia are:

– Anxiety

– Alcohol abuse

– Health problems

– Fatigue

– Depression

Insomnia often co-exists with other disorders and can be the main factor in the other disorder. For example, someone with depression might have significant sleep disruption. This sleep disruption will cause fatigue which makes it far harder for the person to deal with and resolve their feelings of depression. So, achieving a more natural sleep pattern can significantly help with the depression. This is true with several anxiety disorders.

How can hypnotherapy for insomnia help?

We will help you return to a more normal pattern of sleep by using hypnotherapy to remove any underlying anxiety issues and helping you to get back to a normal sleep routine. Hypnotherapy is extremely effective at teaching you to relax at the appropriate times. So teaching you how to relax before sleep is a significant part of the therapy. Deep relaxation is a pre-cursor to sleep and without it sleep will elude you.

Many patterns of sleep disturbance become embedded in our subconscious mind after many months/years of unsatisfactory sleep.  By using hypnotherapy, clients will experience fast and effective changes.

Hypnotherapy really can help with insomnia. If used properly it is a very effective weapon against the lack of sleep that affects our lives significantly.