The True Meanings Of Dreams Revealed

False Awakening or Am I Still Dreaming?

zhuangzi Back in the fourth century BC there was a Chinese poet, Chuang Tzu who wrote a very seminal poem, He dreamed that he was a butterfly, flying about enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he awoke and became the venerable Chuang Tzu again. Upon reflection, he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming that he was a butterfly or whether it was the butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Tzu.

Have you ever woken up from a dream only to find yourself really waking up a few minutes later? Scientists have defined this perplexity as a, “false awakening.” It is an eerie feeling that comes over you when you’re not sure if you’re still dreaming but hope you are really awake. It is a shock of disbelief to our normal concept of direct contact with reality when the illogical things that come from dreamland start assaulting us. The immediate fear that showers down on you like cold water is that you believe you are awake, when you are really still dreaming.

What makes this all the more unbelievable is being convinced that the dream you are in has astonishing details from your waking life and circumstances Dreams can bend reality at the same time and make things appear hyper-real. You may find yourself performing routine tasks which further contributes to the illusion that you are awake. It is not the things we do every day that gives this such an emotional charge. It is the more interesting scenes that are less mundane that further create the imbalance between accepting it as a dream or realizing that reality may have a different interpretation; one that you have not seen before.

One of the common themes one in this twilight state is an uncanny sense of being watched by someone else. It is part of the overall miss assumption. Going back to Chang Tzu who has no difficulty when he is in the human mode, but has a tremendous self-conscious of being watched, as a butterfly.

Eventually, the dreamer begins to notice anomalies in the dream, and as these begin to build up, he is forced to give up the assumption that he is awake. With this comes a tremendous reversal of a locus of control. Just as we feel so firmly in control during our waking moments in reality, we feel equally out of control when we are in a dream.

Like antimatter is to astronomy, Dreams may be considered dark holes in our consciousness. Being able to travel through that dark hole allows us to be in contact with parts of our unconscious that we normally would feel are out of reach. Yet the connection between those unconscious forces and our reality is so tenuous that we cling to the idea that we are awake until the evidence becomes overwhelming to the contrary.

Although this is not a new concept, we simply don’t have enough subjective reports of cases of false awakening hopefully as we gather more information about the netherworld of dreaming these anomalies will become more understandable.

Windt, Jennifer M., and Metzinger, Thomas. (2007). “The Philosophy of Dreaming and Self-Consciousness: What Happens to the Experiential Subject During the Dream State?” In McNamara, Patrick, and Barrett, Deirdre, 193-247. The New Science of Dreaming Volume III: Cultural and Theoretical Perspectives. Westport: Praeger.
Dream and Reality

McNamera Ph.D., Patrick (2011).”How do you know that you are not dreaming?”Dream Catcher


images (18) If we spent as much time and effort on getting to sleep as we do for making the best of the time we spend awake, no one would suffer from insomnia. It is the dark secret that we all go there every night but it is treated like people reacted to Jim Morrison’s, “No one gets out of here alive!” Being able to fall asleep is not only something that happens in the dark, but we remain consciously in that same darkness when it comes to getting there. Fifty-four per cent of Americans suffer from insomnia one time or another. Ten to fifteen percent of them can’t get to sleep for periods of up to six weeks or longer. Last year there were forty-two million prescriptions for sleeping pills, which is up to sixty percent from the years before.

There are techniques taught originally by the yogis of India that have worked to help people overcome insomnia for centuries. They focus on specific breathing techniques (called in Hindu Ujjayi Pranayam) , which are an integral part of Hatha Yoga.

These breathing techniques will help you calm down, even if you are sitting, standing or walking, but they will work most effectively in allowing your body to make the transition from being awake to being asleep.

You start by taking five long, deep, slow breaths to help relax you. Next close your eyes and concentrate on the sounds and feelings of your breathing. Continue to slow your breathing down spending more and more time at the points in which you change from inhaling to exhaling and vice a versa. The more time you spend at that point of the breathing cycle the more you will begin to feel drowsy and start to fall asleep. According to Hatha Yoga using this simple basic technique for several nights will help cure insomnia.

Advanced Ujjayi breathing techniques focus on breath retention. Your goal is to inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for 16 seconds and use eight seconds to exhale. You can start out on a lower ratio of inhaling for two seconds, holding your breath for eight seconds and using four seconds to exhale. Gradually you’ll work your way up to your goal by increasing the amount of time you spend inhaling and exhaling slowly while doubling the amount of time you spend holding your breath. On the average it takes someone 11 minutes or more to fall asleep using this advanced breathing technique.

Many people have been able to take control of their insomnia simply by following their breathing cycle more consciously. Once you have developed a natural rhythmic breathing cycle you began to slowly extended taking longer time is to breathe in and out.


images (16) When someone says they are afraid to go to sleep you wonder at this curious statement and what possibly could have caused it. Aside from the usual fears of losing control the person begins to describe more specifically their fear of dreaming. Because dreams are irrational and often expose feelings that are hard to accept it becomes so uncomfortable for some people that they tried to avoid it any way they can.

Dr. Mark Blecher coined the term oneirophobia in his book The Dream Frontier as a fear of going to sleep. He described the symptoms as typical of most phobias. They included things like shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, physical symptoms of illness and an inability to speak or think clearly. His point was that the core of the problem, however, was a pattern of thinking rather than the symptoms presented. It is a fear of the irrational way in which dreams unfold. The person thinks that they are losing their sanity and entering a dream world more terrifying than Rod Sterling’s “Twilight Zone.” It is the same pattern of thinking that we can feel from a safe distance when we are reading horror stories or seeing scary movies.

Its just like a panic attack. It starts with a feeling of uncontrollable anxiety but in this case its the dream state. Like a vortex it pulls you in closer and closer to that irrational emotional black hole. Disintegration without the possibility of waking up to a sane logical world sends shock waves through your body. Your inner voice screams out do everything possible to avoid that state of mind! Just as paranoia heightens one’s senses it is not uncommon for people to say they realize their fears are exaggerated and they know they are not acting in a normal way.

The mental symptoms that go on in this state can be shared by other exaggerated fears or phobias. Thoughts become obsessive and it is hard to think about anything other than the fear of dreaming. Specific intense images from previous dreams ratchet up the intensity. Feelings of unreality and being detached are usually felt before the overriding fear of losing control.

There are several possible causes of a fear of falling asleep. One might have a nightmare that was so vivid that is indistinguishable from reality. The intensity of this experience is so overwhelming that the fear comes from a possible reoccurrence of this dream. Sometimes, particularly with reoccurring dreams. There is a tendency to view it as a bad omen or a sign that something bad will happen in one’s own life. The third possibility stems from dreams that coincidentally become true in real life. All three of these causes break the barrier between dreaming and reality. The psychotic like intensity of the dream world becomes pervasive that the only way people can control it is by not sleeping. People with this phobia may avoid sleeping by taking stimulants or even reducing the length of time that the sleep to make it so short that they do not enter the REM state.

Treatment includes psychotherapy and sleep therapy. Sleep studies may be done to determine a specific sleeping pattern. Hypnotherapy may also be beneficial in some cases. Sleeping aids such as benzodiazepines may help initially but will be detrimental in the long run.

Although there is little formal specialization there are therapists who deal primarily in treating phobias. Seeing a therapist with much experience in sleep phobia would be a good start.

The core of treatment of this phobia is to combat the fear of losing control. Any way of maintaining a positive approach and to anticipate any future loss will reduce the fear that starts the phobia. One way to control a phobia is to ignore it, which is easier said then done. However, there is always the possibility that thinking or talking about it will create more fear and anxiety, which might make the phobia worse.

Education, or biblio-therapy is very effective in reducing the effect of phobias. The second most effective method of treatment is group therapy or support groups.

Hypnotherapy has been one possible solution because it helps to reprogram the subconscious pattern of this fear. However, because hypnotism shares, the feeling of loss of control with sleeping makes it hard to complete this form of treatment.

Neural linguistic programming has also been found to be useful since it is basically the study and practice of how we create our reality. The specific programs or constructs that bring forth this phobia are reprogrammed.

Treatment is only effective when it is done in combination with a variety of methods. This website offers free dream interpretation. Simply fill out the form and described the dream in as much detail as you can and interpretation will be sent to you via email.

Afraid of Falling Asleep?

y Anyone who has been in private practice for over 30 years has run into at least one person who is afraid of falling asleep. “Doc, if I fall asleep I’m going to dream and my dreams are crazy. I wont get out of there, I can’t live in that world. I’m afraid I’m going to wake up and it will be the same way it is in my dreams. I can’t live in that world!”
“So how are you coping with it?”
“I drink as much coffee as I can. Sometimes I use amphetamines. I never lie down. When it gets real bad. I put on some headphones and play music as loud as possible.”
“How much sleep you get a night?”
“I don’t know. I don’t feel like I sleep at all. What can I do?”

Dr. Mark Bletcher, a neuro-psychoanalyst wrote a book titled The Dream Frontier in which he coined the term Oneirophobia. The first part is from the ancient Greek ὄνειρος (óneiros, “dream”) combined with phobia and meaning a fear of dreams. He proposed that this fear is suffered due to experiences with a frightening dream or nightmare, or by negative events in the dreams that spill out into waking life. The major characteristic is that all sufferers try to avoid falling asleep for fear of entering a dream state. Dr. Bletcher introduces his new terminology in the following way;

“The first task of the dream interpreter is to develop an interest in dreams and a relative lack of fear of what dreams may tell. This is an achievement that may seem easier than it actually is. We all have areas of our personality that we would rather not know about, and we also know on some level that those dissociated areas of our personality are quite visible in our dreams. So some discomfort with dreams or fear of them, which I call oneirophobia, is normal.” (The Dream Frontier)

Getting back to the patient described the beginning. He goes on to talk about how anxious he feels. “When I try to go to sleep. I feel like I can’t get enough air, I can’t think clearly. I feel nauseous. My mouth is dry and I’m sweating. There is this reoccurring overwhelming fear that I’m becoming mad as I begin to lose control. The closer I get to sleep the more I feel detached from my body, which creates a full blown anxiety attack.”

In every case of dream phobia that I have seen, there is a wide divergence of these symptoms. This is due to the fact that the core of the problem, which is the patterns of thinking, the images, sounds and dialogue that are associated with the nightmares are different in each person. The central theme remains the same. Just as you and I have the presupposition that although we fall into a dream world every night like René Descartes, we all assume the sun will rise in the morning and we will return to a reality that makes sense. Just as René Descartes, however, suffered from bouts of extreme paranoia (so much so that he had to change his residence and postal address frequently in his life) Oneirophobics do everything they can to prevent themselves from falling asleep and returning to that chaotic, at times, psychotic dream state.

This is the first of a series of articles devoted to a fear of dreaming. Next we will look at some of the symptoms that define this disorder. There are causes of those symptoms.and finally, they suggest specific treatments. From here we will then launch into a more detailed examination of how Dr. Blecher coined the term Oneirophobia in his seminal work, The Dream Frontier.


images (14) You are not alone. There are some good reasons not to tell anyone your dreams. People seem to be increasingly concerned with the misuse of their personal information these days. The more deeply disturbing or unusual your dream may be the less likely you are to tell anyone what your dream was. “Too much information” is a popular term referring to wanting to set limits on another person spilling their guts. This leads to further fear that your dreams will be misinterpreted or even worse, ignored. “Whatever” is the passive aggressive attempt to show that the other person really doesn’t care about your dream at all.

When you think of the content of most people’s dreams it’s not surprising that their reluctant to talk about them. Oneirophobia or the fear of dreams is a psychiatric term referring to people who are reluctant to discuss their own dreams. Sigmund Freud pointed out that when we dream, much of the part of our brain that represses unwanted thoughts and feelings is asleep. That leaves our wildest desires and embarrassing thoughts to be expressed. It’s no wonder that if you don’t spend any time contemplating your dreams when you wake up they will quickly go away. Using Freud’s concept, we feel uncomfortable when we think about those things. The emotions surrounding most dreams are unpleasant enough that we don’t like to bring them up alone or in polite society.

In psychoanalysis not providing information, particularly dreams is considered a form of resistance. On a simplistic level, the patient does not want to give intimate details of their psychological life for fear of being misinterpreted or even worse, criticized. More recently, the idea of resistance is taken on a different focal point. The patient may be unwilling to provide psychological information because the therapist has not established sufficient trust. This inevitably gave the psychoanalyst the opportunity to do something while they waited for the patient to open up. When you think of the few people that you trust in the world. It becomes much more clear why you don’t talk about your dreams.
There is also the pop psychology perspective that can be paraphrased by the concept of telling your dreams to someone means that you give your power away. From this viewpoint you should keep your dreams to yourself and concentrate on making them more real. Living your dream becomes the new motto, replacing the old one of sharing your dream with someone else to increase your insight as to why you may have had it.

Somehow it has become bad social etiquette to divulge dreams that may show parts of you in an unfavorable light. The initial reaction of most people, when asked to share a dream is one of being startled. “No one is ever asked me about my dreams before.” The underlying reaction is that of shock that someone is actually interested in your dream, no matter how confusing and inconsistent it may be to you. This brings up another concern that once someone knows something inconsistent about you they then have power over you.

With the increasing concern to show yourself in one particular way. There may be more of a reluctance to describe a dream because it shows your ignorance as to why you have the dream. This fear of appearing naïve and lacking in self understanding makes it hard to reveal something so emotionally charged and confused.

This has had its effect on the Internet as well. Five years ago there were hundreds of websites offering dream interpretation. People were much more confident about asking very personal questions about themselves to a complete stranger, often someone they could not even hear or see. In the last few years all but a few sites survive.

Whether it is concerns that your dream may show how little you know of yourself or if you are simply too shy to share something so personal; the point remains the same. In my own situation I have found people to be very cautious about revealing a dream to me when I tell them I am writing a book on dream interpretation. They will look to talk about all aspects of their dream except for its actual content. Even when tempted by such phrases as, “I have found that telling other people my dreams gives me greater insight as to why I have them.” People will still be reluctant to reveal the content of their dreams.

This website provides free dream interpretation. Simply fill out the form and interpretation will be sent back to you via email.

Sprayable Sleep is Just a Spritz Away!

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It’s inventor is Ben Yu, who dropped out of Harvard to develop another product with the same delivery system. About a year ago Sprayable Energy made its debut this time with caffeine in the spritzer. One pump was equivalent of a quarter cup of coffee. Its novelty was such a success that it is been shipped to customers in more than 50 countries.

Now that he has got so many people’s attention it seemed natural for Ben to come up with a product that help you fall asleep. Considering that about one in four US workers suffer from insomnia at a loss of over 63 billion in productivity. The applicator looks like a lipstick case, costs about $15 and Ben boasts that it contains “a month of good sleep.” Ben goes on to say, ” Sprayable Sleep is our answer to those who find it hard to stay well rested in today’s sleep-deprived culture. With it, we’ve built a tool to combat the daily stresses, artificial lights and constant stimulation that disrupts good sleep.”

Aside from the “new toy” aspect of this product the use of melatonin is not without caution. The American Cancer Society has pointed to some reports that indicate that melatonin may interact with blood-thinning medicines and with medications for seizures or diabetes. The list of precautions and possible drug interactions is quite extensive. But then again you don’t need to put that on the label when you sell it as a food additive.

The effects of supplemental melatonin on the sleep wakefulness cycle or circadian rhythm is a major concern of anyone seriously considering using this product. Melatonin has been known to cause vivid dreams and nightmares as well as feelings of drowsiness upon awakening (sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness.) Additional side effects of melatonin include stomach cramps, dizziness, headache, irritability, decreased libido, breast enlargement in men and decrease sperm count. Some studies show that melatonin supplements worsen symptoms of depression.

Sprayable sleep will be all over the Internet and heavily advertised since it is coming out this month. Anyone who is seriously concerned about maintaining good sleep patterns and not disrupting their circadian rhythm should understand the need for caution that is being emphasized. It is a medical tragedy that things like this can be touted as a cure for insomnia and not have to carry the precautions that any other drug is required to simply because it is a food supplement. The first time a young child gets a hold of one of these containers and start spraying their friends there will be a reactive backlash on the media. Hopefully this won’t keep you up at night worrying.

Altun A, Ugur-Altun B. Melatonin: therapeutic and clinical utilization. Int J Clin Pract. 2007;61(5):835-45.

Arendt J. Melatonin, circadian rhythms and sleep. New Engl J Med; 2000;343(15):1114-1116.

Attele AS, Xie JT, Yuan CS. Treatment of insomnia: an alternative approach.Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(3):249-259.

Lewy AJ, Emens J, Jackman A, Yuhas K. Circadian uses of melatonin in humans. Chronobiol Int. 2006;23(1-2):403-12.

Nagtagaal JE, Laurant MW, Kerkhof GA, Smits MG, van der Meer YG, Coenen AM. Effects of melatonin on the quality of life in patients with delayed sleep phase syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 2000;48(1):45-50.

Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Monteferrario F, Antoniello N, Manni R, Klersy C. The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011;59(1):82-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03232.x.

Serfaty MA, Osborne D, Buszewicz MJ, Blizard R, Raven PW. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of treatment as usual plus exogenous slow-release melatonin (6 mg) or placebo for sleep disturbance and depressed mood. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010;25(3):132-42.

Shamir E, Laudon M, Barak Y, Anis Y, Rotenberg V, Elizur A, et al. Melatonin improves sleep quality of patients with chronic schizophrenia. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61(5):373-377.

Smits MG, Nagtegaal EE, van der Heijden J, Coenen AM, Kerkhof GA. Melatonin for chronic sleep onset insomnia in children: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. J Child Neurol. 2001;16(2):86-92.

keywords: Sprayable Energy, Ben Yu, insomnia, Sprayable Sleep, new toy, melatonin, sleep, food supplement, nightmares, sleep inertia, sleep drunkenness, depression

Why Should You Trust Dream Interpreters?

images (11) Try looking up, “do not trust dream interpretation” on the Internet. What you get is a series of references interpreting mistrust in dreams. Try changing your search words around, but you will get the same emphasis on the fact that dream interpretation can help you understand your mistrustful dream. This type of myopic approach makes questions like the title of this article even more significant.

For some reason the search engines on the web assume that dream interpretation is the major focus as if it is scientifically supported. This seems contrary to the original idea of the World Wide Web, which was the free access of people to scientific information. Instead, there seems to be an implicit idea that dream interpretation is here to stay and you can unlock the power of your dreams through a dictionary of symbols or the return email from someone far away who doesn’t know you at all. Here is a typical self aggrandizing polemic from one such website soothsayer who, “continued Carl Jung’s research into the human psyche, discovering the cure for all mental illnesses, and simplifying the scientific method of dream interpretation that teaches you how to accurately translate the meaning of your dreams, so that you can find health, wisdom and happiness.”

Basis of most dream interpretation websites can be summed up in the phrase metaphor mongering. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are partially to blame for this, but there is a long history going back to the ancients using the same sort of analogical imaging procedure when interpreting dreams. The art and science of dream interpretation is not really progressed much from these ancient dream interpretation manuals and soothsayers nonsense.

A good comparison of the effectiveness of the use of scientific method on a previously purely subjective interpretive test is Exner’s method of interpreting the Rorschach. Exner uses as much scientific studies as possible to come up with a viable interpretation of random inkblots that may show something about the structure and function of the human psyche as it is applied to a large number of subjects.

A good case could be made that we need just such a scientific approach to base dream interpretation on. Just as Exner’s approach to Rorschach responses as a good deal of mathematical formulas and tables based on a large number of diverse subjects dream interpretation may someday have such a scientific substantiation to make it respectable.

There are a number of organizations that are attempting to categorize and analyze people’s dreams in a more scientific way. There are researchers who are measuring brain waves and attempting to correlate them to dreams so specifically that they have been able to predict what a person is dreaming simply by their EEG results. Despite these exciting technical developments they are in no way near to making dream interpretation a scientific reality. Keep this in mind next time someone offers you an interpretation of your dream. You may politely decline the offer, no matter how expert the person may seem to be.


Carl Jung, Dreams: (From Volumes 4, 8, 12, and 16 of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung) (Bollingen Series)

Christina Sponias, Scientific Dream Interpretation, (self published)

Edward F. Pace-Schott, Sleep and Dreaming: Scientific Advances and Reconsiderations, Cambridge University Press, Feb 27, 2003

John Exner, The Rorschach, Basic Foundations and Principles of Interpretation Volume 1, Wiley; Volume 1 edition (October 25, 2002)

Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams: The Complete and Definitive Text, Basic Books (2010)

Don’t Think You Dream? Think Again

banksyNot many people have seen Banksy, the infamous street artist who’s works are sold for millions at Sotheraby, bricks and all. Just as his piece above suggests there is a large segment of human beings who go through life devoid of one of our natural senses or claiming that they don’t experience it. Like the walking dead or the zombies that seem to captivate Hollywood they move around us everyday unaware of what we take for granted, namely insight and self awareness that we get through interpreting our dreams.

This denial takes on two forms. “I don’t dream” is the flat total denial like the silly answer one of the Three Stooges would say when Curly blurted out “I can’t see!” Moe responds with “Open your eyes!” The second form is “I don’t remember my dreams.” This may be a scientific fact. Don’t try and your conscious mind will make sure you don’t upset your Ego.

Stepansky et al (1998), studied dream recall in a sample of 1000 adult Austrians. They reported that 31 percent of this sample report dreaming 10 times per month or more, 37 percent report dreaming 1 – 9 times per month, and 32 percent report dreaming less than once per month.
Although this study may appear to be scientific it is based on the subjective reports of the participants. To be scientificly correct the participants would have to be follow every night, waking them up during REM sleep to see if they actually were not dreaming. This is the difference between science and what philosophers call reality. By that the best philosophical definition for what really took place is an agreed supposition between all those concerned. Since dream interpretation involves you yourself and no one else this is a skewed perspective in which anyone is right. The basis is that there is nothing tangible in dreams, other than insight and awareness which is only recognized by the beholder, i.e., the dreamer.

Anthropologists have noted that there are tribal groups who made dream sharing a central part of their culture. It is not far to suppose the antithesis which would be groups of individuals who never recall their dreams and claim they do not dream. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, wrote in book 4 of his Histories of just such a group living many thousands of years ago in North Africa near the Atlas Mountains. “The natives call this mountain, the pillar of heaven, and they themselves take their name from it, being called Atlantean’s or the Atlantean’s. They are reported not to eat any living thing and never have any dreams.”

Plato, in his Critas and Timaeus confirmed that such a great civilization existed at that point in the Atlantic. Some 10,000 years ago. The Atlantean’s showed significant spiritual, scientific, artistic, and technical awareness. Their civilization ended in catastrophe and refugees fled to North Africa and Persia. In Persia, the Atlantean’s were led by the spiritual leader Zoroaster who initiated a religious tradition that lives on to this day. It remains puzzling however, that such an advanced civilization did not report dreams. Perhaps they were a part of a culture that did not consider dreams part of their reality.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. You can wake up each day, putting all disturbing thoughts behind you, or you can see what Sigmund Freud called, “the Royal road to the unconscious” you happen to have traveled on the night before. Hopefully you have decided, as Plato did that the unexamined life is not worthwhile.

Blgraove, M (2007) Dreaming and personality. In: Barrett, D., & McNamara, P. (Eds.). (2007). The new science of dreaming (3 volumes). Westport, CT and London: Praeger Perspectives.
Stepansky, R., Holzinger, B., Schmeiser-Rieder, A., Saletu, B., Kunze, M., & Zeitlhofer, J. (1998). Austrian dream behavior: Results of a representative population survey. Dreaming, 8, 23-30.

Drugs to Dream On: Nootropics

images (2)After anyone has had a lucid dream there is a sudden interest in any way to increase the chances of having another one. It doesn’t take long till you stumble on the bold claims of some specific nutritional supplements called Nootropics. Take them and they will enhance your dream recall, as well as increase the intensity of your dreams. They will advertise adding a greater sense of meaning to the dreams that you are having as well is helping you become more self aware while dreaming. Bottom line is that they guarantee, “take them and have more lucid dreams.”

As early as 1975, dream researchers found out that acetylcholine and its inhibitors are somehow involved with dream sleep (Amatruda et al 1975). In fact, noted dream scientist J. Allen Hobson stated rather boldly that “Cholinergic brainstem mechanisms cause REM sleep and dreaming.” (1988, p. 202). Around the same time, high acetylcholine levels in the brain was associated with the prevention of memory loss, which is why it appears to be effective in treating Alzheimers.

Ryan Hurd began his Dream Studies Portal in 2007 ( Here is a summary of his experiences with Nootropics. He first started using Piracetam in 1990. It is a subclass of the nootropics known as racetams. He reports that they tend to sharpen his senses, as well as his working memory. He found out that this supplement inhibits dream recall however and started looking elsewhere .

Priacetam is not approved by the FDA in the United States. There has been some research in England touting its ability to reduce symptoms in the following: aging, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s and senile dementia, clotting, coagulation, vasosplastic disorders, depression, anxiety, stroke, developmental coordination disorder, schizophrenia, and closed craniocerebral trauma! There also very few side effects noted.

When Ryan Hurd tried Galantamine he found that it boosted his lucid dreaming, but left him with a headache when he woke up. The mechanism of action is to stimulate neurons called nicotonic receptors. He points out that nicotine has a similar effect that must be used in very low doses to stay asleep. The presence of galantamine has been shown to promote dreaming sleep. Specifically, the compound acts immediately to increase the duration of REM sleep, and the dream state is made more structurally sound (Riemann et al, 1994). Also, not only does galathamine increase the period of sleep that gives us dreams, but it also seems to help with recalling those dreams upon awakening.

In 2004, Stephen LaBerge applied for a patent for the use of cholinesterase inhibitors like galantamine to promote lucid dreaming. While dream researchers had discussed the importance of the cholinergic systems with dream creation and dream recall, no one had yet mentioned that it may increase the likelihood of self-awareness in dreams as well. Laberge’s pilot studies show that galantamine treatments are more effective than placebos for lucid dreaming induction. ). Most recently, LaBerge and LaMarca (2012) have presented their well-controlled galantamine data set, which shows there is a 5.8X greater likelihood of having a lucid dream with 8mg of galantamine versus placebo. It’s a small trial, but double-blind and placebo controlled. In 2007, Thomas Yushak verified LaBerge’s results that galantamine increases lucid dreaming, in particular lucid dreams that emerge direct from awakening and going back to sleep without losing awareness (also know as Wake-back-to-bed dreams.)

Taking a supplement like galantamine directly affects your brain chemistry, and so it should not be taken lightly. It’s not for everyone. Some people will have adverse reactions. The most frequent side effects are gastro-intestinal, including: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia (loss of appetite), and weight loss. As LaBerge (2004) has noted, galantamine has been shown to also increase micro-awakenings during the night. For some light sleepers, it’s possible that galantamine can interfere with a restful night and you will wake up not feeling refreshed. Also, the following medical issues have been documented to be irritated or worsened by the use of galantamine: asthma, lung diseases, epilepsy or history of seizures, heart problems, including slow heartbeat or heart murmur, kidney and/or liver problems, stomach ulcer, and urinary tract problems.

LaBerge (2004) also notes that there “was also associated with a significantly elevated frequency of sleep paralysis and a 40% increase in estimated time awake during the night.” Sleep paralysis is a parasoma where muscle can no longer move during the transition into sleep onset and also during REM sleep.

Subjects who are aware during this state experiece strange sensations that feel like being held down or being crushed by a weight on the chest. Fear makes the sensations worse, and can spin into intensely real waking-dreams that may involve the presence of a strange force bearing down on the sleeper’s chest.

Ryan Hurd has the following suggestions on dosage and maximizing the effects of Nootropics: “Taken orally, the galantamine supplement is active and at full strength within an hour of ingestion. The half-life is about 7 hours. Recommended dosage for dream enhancement is on the low side: 4 – 8 mg. (Alzheimer’s patients, on the other hand, often take 12mg or more a day). It’s best to take the supplement in the middle of the night to take advantage of the longer REM (dreaming sleep) cycles that occur in the second half of the night. Taking the pill before you go to bed can be counter-productive, and may result in unpleasant experiences.”

Amatruda, TT, III, Black DA, McKenna TM, McCarley RW, Hobson JA (1975). Sleep cycle control and cholinergic mechanisms: differential effects of carbachol injections at pontine brain stem sites.Brain Research, 98, p. 501-515.

Hobson, J.A. (1988), The Dreaming Brain. New York: Basic Books.

Luc Laberge, Paul Bégin , Jacques Montplaisir and Jean Mathieu (March 2004), “Sleep complaints in patients with myotonic dystrophy, Journal of Sleep Research, Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 95–100

La Marca, K. and Laberge, S. (2012). Pre-sleep treatment with galantamine increases the likelihood of lucid dreaming. Poster session, presented June 25, 2012 at the Annual conference for the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Berkeley, CA

Riemann, D., Gann, H. Dressing, H., Muller W., Aldenhoff, J. (1994). Influence of the cholinesterase inhibitor galanthamine hydrobromide on normal sleep. Psychiatry Research, 51 (3), p. 253-267.
Yuschak, T. (2007) Pharmacological induction of lucid dreams. Published online 2007 but not currently available.
Another reference is the Beginners Nootropic Guide (

Dream Interpretation in China

zhou-gong-01-207x300In China, Zhou Gong is regarded as the God of Dreams. Confucius once said:” I no longer dream of the Duke of Zhou” which means I do not have a dream about Zhou Gong’s good governance. Ancient Chinese believed that when something important to happen with someone, Zhou Gong will let the person know in his dream.

Zhou Gong authored the “Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams.” In it he analyzed people’s dreams and showed how to predict their future based on the contents of those dreams. He divides dreams into a series of categories based on subject matter (planets and weather; surroundings; gods and spirits; the body; music and disharmony; living creatures; clothing, jewelry, and miscellaneous). His ideas are vital to understanding the Chinese concept of dreams; so much so that even though his thoughts are anything but modern, many Chinese still believe what Zhou wrote. For example, almost every Chinese person believes that if you dream of a snake biting you, it is a sign that you will get a lot of money. If you dream of your dead relatives according to Zhou Gong it is a sign of blessings and longevity. Dreaming of a dog barking is an omen of bad luck. Gray hair means long life. Dreaming that you have no clothes on means bad luck, followed by poverty or humiliation. When you have trouble driving a vehicle in a dream, it means you can’t get what you want. Dreams where you make people drink alcohol mean you will get into arguments, but being invited for a drink together means longevity.

While every Chinese person acknowledges Zhou’s influence, they also—at the same time—downplayed it. No one believes everything Zhou said but in a typically Chinese way they just pick and choose the things that make sense to them. Given the fact that Zhou Gong says some pretty strange things, it seems like a reasonable expectation. For instance if you dream your wife is pregnant, it means she is having an affair. While some might argue about Zhou Gong’s influence on modern Chinese dream interpretation, and debate if he actually wrote the book, there is no doubt about the mark his name has left on the modern day Chinese. Even today, after Chinese people awake from a nap they are still sometimes asked: “Did you meet with Zhou Gong?”

The “Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams” is divided into seven categories. Within each section the dream interpretation is expressed in poem-like text.

The first category has to do with the planets and weather. For example if you dream of the sun or moon rising, your family will be prosperous, educated and will have good jobs. On the other hand it the sun or moon is setting, then you may be cheated by your friends or subordinates.

The second category deals with the home and surroundings. For example if you dream of bamboo trees growing healthily in your front yard, there will be good news. Or if you dream of walking about with your wife, it means that you will be buying a property.

The third category deals with gods and spirits. For example if you dream of visiting a temple, seeing the status of Buddha it means very good fortune. Have you dreamt of seeing a dead person rising out of a coffin? Do not worry. It is a good sign. It means that you will be earning a lot of money!

The fourth category deals with person or body. If you dream of going out with another woman, it means that you will lose money. It seems logical but here comes the interest part. If you dream that your wife is pregnant, it means that she will or is having an affair. And if you dream of yourself and your wife honoring each other, it means that you will be divorced!

The fifth category deals with music and disharmony. For example, if you dream of someone blowing a flute or hitting a drum it means that a party is imminent. Killing dreams are interpreted in a very interesting manner. If you dream of someone killing a chicken, goose or duck, it is a sign of good fortune. Killing a pig is even better fortune but killing a goat is a sign of evil and danger.

The sixth category deals with living creatures. If you dream of a snake becoming a dragon, it means you will get help from someone. If the snake bites you, you will receive a lot of money. Generally speaking if you dream of a dragon, phoenix or peacock it implies good fortune.

The last category deals with clothing and jewels and other miscellaneous items. If you dream of a golden hairpin, it means that you will have a noble son. However if you dream of expensive hairpins knocking together, it means that you wife will leave you. If you dream of your cloths dirty and covered with mud, it means your wife’s pregnancy will be problematic. Finally it is a sign of god fortune if your dream of picking money!

This website offers free dream interpretation by a clinical psychologist. Fill out the form on this site and include as much detail of the dream as you can. A confidential email will be sent back to you with the interpretation.