Ever had a dream where you suddenly realize you never graduated high school and you need to take one test to get your diploma but can't find the classroom -- and you also happen to be naked? What about the one where the giant cupcake is chasing you through a pathway made from jelly beans?
Don't worry. You're not going crazy. Losing things, being chased, and showing up in public sans clothes are common themes in dreams for everyone.
Dreams Cloud is a free community-based dream journal Web site that not only lets you keep track of all your dreams and nightmares, but also offers analysis aimed at helping you discover what your subconscious is really trying to tell you.
"Dreams Cloud has the largest database of dreams in the world, and also gives its users access to a group of expert professional dream reflectors," Dreams Cloud co-founder Matt Tabrizi told Crave. "Dreams Cloud users can request a professional reflection when they log their dreams, then someone from our team of experienced dream workers will get back to them with thoughts and insights to help lead and guide them towards their personal self-reflection process."
To date, Dreams Cloud has provided more than 20,000 free professional reflections from psychologists, social workers, and authors in the field of dream study, he said.
The global dream community is comprised of members from 165 countries. All users can log their dreams for safekeeping and personal use, or share them using Dreams Cloud's free apps, available for iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry devices. They can also create an online dream journal, learn the meaning of dream symbols, and explore dreams similar to their own.
The site also has a regularly updated database of dreams that range from everything to lights never working to being left at the altar. But if you really want to be entertained (or scared silly) take a look at the site's Nightmares category, which has a rather creepy paranormal possession journal entry that involves a basement with cement walls and a girl being exorcised by the dreamer's brother and his girlfriend.
Luckily, many of the nightmare entries also have responses by Dreams Cloud "reflectors," who analyze dreams and explain what they might mean.
It's these "reflections" that the site hopes will train users to start looking at their own dreams for clues to what kinds of anxiety or stress may be affecting their sleep. The site also has an extensive database of dream symbols and their meanings if you want to decipher dreams on your own.
"Our dreams can reveal everything about our thoughts and desires, and they can reveal how we feel about events and experiences in our past, present, and future," Angel Morgan, a dreams-study expert for Dreams Cloud, told Crave.
"When we slow down enough to look at our dreams and reflect on them in a meaningful way, we see that dream 'language' often uses symbols, puns, and metaphors. Once we practice reflecting on our dreams, and develop a better understanding of our own personal and cultural dream meanings, it becomes more natural to recognize our feelings, thoughts and desires as revealed to us in our dreams."
But what happens when we grow tired of constantly dreaming about losing our wallet or all our teeth? One approach to taking control of dreams and guiding them is called "lucid dreaming."
"Lucid dreaming is becoming aware of dreaming while dreaming," Morgan said. "Here is a technique I developed for beginning lucid dreamers: As you are falling asleep, imagine you are standing at the top of a cliff in a beautiful landscape. Imagine jumping off the cliff and landing gently on your feet at the bottom, then turn to face the cliff and imagine yourself levitating up to the top again. Repeating this exercise is very effective and has helped many people have their first lucid dream experience shortly after."