“The car won’t start. Not surprising really, because most of it’s been burnt out, there are no doors and no roof. But by some miracle the ignition is still in tact and I have the key. As I turn it into the charred barrel again, the car wheezes and splutters, but there’s no joy. It still won’t start. Someone next to me says ‘I’d hurry up if I were you, I can hear them coming…’ Shit. I can hear it too. The distant scraping of feet, the muffled moans and chomping rotten jaws of the zombie pack that’s been following us. I try the key one more time in a desperate hope that it will work. Success! The car jutteringly sparks into life. But the zombie pack is already on us, my friends are kicking and pushing them off the exposed body of our car as we wheel spin away. Cold, grey, clawing dead hands desperately reaching for fresh human flesh to satisfy their neverending hunger. I swerve the car away from the majority of the zombie crowd and run over a few stragglers that stood in our way. I hear the bones of the undead crunch under the wheels, but I feel no remorse. I’m relieved we’re moving again. Me and my four friends sit in silence as we head out of yet another town and onto the open road. I glance at the petrol gauge and see its close to empty, but I daren’t break the comforting silence with more bad news. I look in the rear view mirror and it looks like one of the girls has been bitten. Great. Not another one. This day is not going to end well.”
So, that there was part of my dream from a few nights ago. I love horror movies, so I end up dreaming about them more often than not. I wouldn’t describe them as nightmares though. Although in the dream there is tension and suspense, it’s no more than what you would feel when you watch those sorts of movies, despite actually being in them when you’re dreaming.
I think part of the lack of fear when I dream, is that I realise I’m dreaming. I know most of the time I can wake myself up at any point. On occasions where the dreams have become a bit too much, I have shaken myself out of them. When the dreams are really awesome and my sleep is interrupted, I can often fall back into the same dream and carry it on. Most of the time I feel in control of my dreams. I am able to make decisions and change the course of my dream. This is called lucid dreaming. Not all of my dreams are lucid, but a lot of them are at varying levels. When I did my Psychology degree, there was a section on dreams and it was by far the module I found most interesting. There were various different theories and experiments. One particular study, about a lady who experienced lucid dreams was able to, with only the power of her sleeping mind, give herself multiple orgasms. As a scientist, that’s gotta be a good day at the office right? “Yes Dr Smith, electrode number two is certainly enjoying itself'”.
I remember as a kid my mum having an A-Z ‘Book of Dreams’, where you can look up what it means if in a dream you experience flying, or if your teeth fall out. Both very common themes in dreams. I used to love it. Even as a kid I used to remember my dreams quite vividly, so I had a fascination with it from an early age and used to look up why the monster would be chasing me or why I’d turn up to school naked. However, these interpretations of dreams are a bit like tarot reading. There is no scientific basis for these dream dictionary’s, but they often reassure people that what they are dreaming about is ‘normal’ and rarely give the answer that you are going to die, which I think is what people fear the most. Dr Sigmund Freud, the ‘father of psychoanalysis’ thought that dreams were the door to the unconscious mind. He also thought up the Oedipus complex, where everyone secretly wants to sleep with/kill their mother/father. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of Freud’s theories are fascinating, but you have to remember they are just theories and he isn’t taken as seriously by a lot of academics nowadays as he was back in the day. Sure some of his stuff changed the face of psychoanalysis and psychology as we know it today. But if you ask me, I think he had way more issues with sex than most of his patients ever did.
From what I know about the subject, dreaming is a mixture of your thoughts, your desires and your worries/fears combined with everyday happenings in your waking life. Your mind is trying to process roughly the last 12-16hrs of you being awake, experiencing different things at home, at work and at play. It is trying to sort out which memories it needs and which are useless pieces of information it can just get rid of. Your mind is a super complex machine, sorting through data like Rain Man whilst you are sleeping. No, you do not need to remember the colour of the man’s jumper who sat next to you on the bus. Yes you do need to remember the date of when your mother in law is coming for dinner. It’s freaking amazing. Obviously sometimes it gets it wrong and dumps you right in the shit when you can remember all the words to Rappers Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, but you forget to send your friend a birthday card.
In history, dreams were often revered as predicting the future or associated with prophecies. Over the years, dreams have been studied in minute detail, but they remain very much an experience associated with the individual dreamer and until they invent something similar to the systems in the films Minority Report or Inception, then they will remain a mystery. I think this is one of the reasons why I think as humans we are awesome.
Animals also dream. I often watch my dogs dream. Their legs twitch and they make whimpering sounds and I like to think they’re having fun and chasing rabbits. But we will never know what it is that they’re experiencing. Sure, we can attach eletrodes to them and measure their brain frequency, but we can never see and experience what they do. Same with humans. Sure we can ask the human what it is they dreamt about, but we can never really know why or how they dream or experience it as they do.
My zombie dream involved the basic zombie apocalypse storylines and rules that most films do. Stick together, avoid the zombies, leave behind/kill anyone who gets infected, try and stay alive. My three friends were in my dream, as was Mila Kunis. She survived longer than anticipated (it’s always the pretty ones that die first), but from 5 of us, we ended up down to two as the zombies got the better of us. I don’t remember how the dream ended. I don’t know why Mila Kunis was even in my dream. Perhaps I’d watched an episode of Family Guy before bed (she is the voice of Meg), maybe as I was going to sleep my boyfriend was watching a zombie movie in the other room. Maybe, I have predicted the next zombie apocalypse and secretly want to kill/sleep with Mila Kunis. All of those are entirely plausible explanations.
I really do enjoy dreaming. I have a friend who remembers dreams as vividly as I do and we often share dream experiences. We discuss which cheese is the best to eat before going to sleep to ensure that your dreams are whacky and wonderful. I’ve found that mature Wookey Hole cheddar is a good bet. Now, the cheese itself is not really giving you the dreams and it isn’t just cheese that can bring on dreams. Eating anything that is difficult to digest before bedtime, is likely to give you a disturbed sleep. This means more REM (Rapid Eye Movement), the sleep stage in which you dream and essentially more dream time.
If you’ve seen the film the Matrix, it puts forward a good argument. It implies we are in a constant state of dreaming. That the world in which we actually live is too horrifying and we are plugged into an alternate reality that is slightly less horrifying for our tiny brains to deal with. Or like in Inception, although everyday we wake up, we’re only waking up within a dream, within a dream, within a dream. I don’t know about you people, but I stand by the theory that ignorance is bliss. I enjoy my alternate reality. And would take the blue pill everytime.