How are England’s chances in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia? Most people agree that our side has as much chance of lifting the trophy as Ksenia Sobchak had of being elected president in March (#politics).
Nonetheless, as a football-loving nation, sleep experts predict that the prevalence of football-related dreams will increase tenfold in the upcoming weeks. The Society for the Interpretation of Dreams (SID) has released pamphlets providing information about the most common footie-based fantasies (England wins, England loses, the entire team forgets their kit and has to compete in vest and pants, Germany is disqualified for slaughtering Brazilian players on the pitch); yet to my dismay, some of the most interesting dreams have been left off the list.
Here’s one of my favourites.
Everyone’s been there: you snuggle up in your duvet, having guzzled a tall glass of warm milk, ready to peacefully wander into the Land of Nod – but when you close your eyes, all you see are shin pads. Rows upon rows of them. Shin pads as far as the eye can see – all different colours and brands, some with that new-car smell, some reeking of overpaid leghair. Such dreams can haunt a person for weeks on end.
Luckily, there’s nothing inherently sinister about dreaming about shin pads. Shin pads symbolise protection, but protection from a threat you have exposed yourself to purposefully. Such dreams may imply you’re feeling uncertain about a risky decision you’ve just made and want to be prepared for any outcome.
When dreaming, the average human burns over four calories an hour!
Oh dear! Dreaming of sheep is fairly common amongst the stressed or disorganised – in fact, Google searches for “I dreamt of livestock and it scared me” peak during times of elevated national stress levels, like during exam season or just before the final of Bake Off.
Luckily there’s a simple explanation for all that wooliness – and you’ll kick yourself when you hear it.
Think back to the last time you dreamt about sheep, then think further back to the moments before you fell asleep. Have you got it yet?
That’s right! Silly, distracted sausage that you are, you counted dreams instead of sheep to help yourself drop off. It’s well known that visualising sheep, perhaps grazing in a field or jumping over a hedge, is a sure-fire way to doze off, but counting dreams is an untested method, often resulting in bizarre dreams!
We’ve all had it: that weird, Being John Malkovic-esque dream where you’re walking through a crowded city, and everyone has the face of your uncle. You wander the streets for a while, bemused, but your uncles seem to be getting more and more agitated and it puts you on edge.
Before long, you’re running for your life towards the (mercifully deserted) railway station, pursued by a pack of baying uncles. You try to escape by getting on an empty train, but when the ticket collector asks for your rail card, you see that he also has your uncle’s face. You jump out of the train window, the conductor’s hands grasping at your coat, and, thoroughly freaked out, you rush into an abandoned flat.
From the window, you can see thousands of replicas of your uncle wandering the streets, and you feel a sinking horror. Although you already know what you’ll see, you can’t stop yourself from going to the mirror. Looking back at you – your uncle.
Don’t worry! This is totally normal – in fact, some scientists suggest that the real weirdos are the ones who don’t have this dream.
Whilst it might be scary at the time, the real meaning behind this dream is pretty simple: your uncle is a metaphor for family obligation, and although you try to flee your responsibilities (or, “your uncles”), as all young adults do, you come to realise that you are an integral part of your family structure. At its essence, it’s a dream about belonging.
Either that or, you know, you’re repressing something.
Dreams connect us, so they say, to the metaphysical world. Let’s explore their meanings together.
Ever jerked awake suddenly, with the horrible feeling that you were falling? I read a really interesting article about that, but I can’t remember what it said, so I’m just going to make something up instead. I think it had to do with your body freaking out because your muscles suddenly relaxed as if you’d died, or something sciencey like that.
My explanation is much simpler: the reason you have such a vivid sensation of falling is that you actually were falling.
Think about it! When have you ever felt like that before? I’ll tell you – when you were falling. And be honest – your imagination isn’t that good. You can’t just pretend to fall and have it feel that real, so you must have been actually falling. Stands to reason.
The question remains – where were you falling from? Well, boys and girls, that’s for the scientists to explain. I just write the blogs.
Did you know that the average person experiences over fifty separate dream sequences in a single night? That’s not true, but it makes the study of dreams seem more relevant.
It’s a classic TV trope: the lovable but ne’er-do-well protagonist is sitting in an exam hall. He’s freaking out because he hasn’t studied, maybe he’s naked. He’s staring at his paper, clenching his pencil in his fist, sweat beading on his brow. Then something implausible happens, like his crush kisses him full on the mouth, or he looks down and he’s wearing his sister’s skirt, or his teacher turns into a bat. This is a subtle technique to let the audience know something isn’t quite right here. To hammer it home, he might say something like, “Of course, this is a dream,” in a resigned tone before he jerks awake, sweating, in his dark bedroom.
The truth is, no matter how well you did in your GCSEs, exams are a stressful time. So stressful, in fact, that fully grown adults remain traumatised by them well into their thirties, breaking into a nervous sweat at the mere sight of a revision guide.
Dreaming about such a stressful time is an indication that you are, perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, too relaxed. Your subconscious is seeking out high-stress memories to try and provoke a chemical response in your brain.
Why not try some high-octane sports, like jousting or badminton, or push yourself to engage with things outside of your comfort zone? You will subliminally reward yourself with sweet, sweet dopamine.