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What Our Dreams Are Trying to Tell Us

A person is upside-down, floating in space.
Dreams are one of the unsolved mysteries of the brain.

Flying. Falling. Arriving late to school and realizing you had an exam you never prepared for. All these are common elements in dreams, which make up one of the most intriguing mysteries of the brain.

You probably don’t remember all of them, but you have on average three to five dreams a night. Dreams help with problem solving and emotional processing as your brain catalogs short-term memory and stores it for the long term.

Host Anita Rao talks with dreamworker Angel Morgan, a past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and a professor of transpersonal psychology at Sofia University. She's also the founder and director of Dreambridge, an organization providing resources and education on the link between dreams and creativity.

Also joining the conversation is Chris Ufere, the founder and CEO of uDreamed, a global dream database. He discusses the “COVID-19 dream” phenomenon. And Michael Nadorff, associate professor of psychology at Mississippi State University, explains the research linking nightmares to suicide — and how nightmare therapy can provide interventions to both.

Thank you to Catherine, Ashley, Grace, Zaida, Chate, Matt and Mark for contributing dream stories to this episode!

What’s In a Dream?

Here are a few snippets of dream stories, shared by our listeners in response to a question about the strangest dream they ever had:

“[The roller coaster] flew off silently, off into the distance, presumably off into space … and then I turned to my friend, because we were about to get onto the next cart, and I said: ‘It’ll be fine.’”


“I often put my phone down somewhere and can’t find it later … I dreamed I did this with a baby. I lost and forgot my baby in a drawer or duffel bag.”


“I see this giant, half-melted — you know that movie, ‘Annihilation’? Like, straight outta that movie — zombie-looking elephant … and I know it’s looking for me.”


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Kaia Findlay is a producer for Embodied, WUNC's weekly, live talk show on health, sex and relationships. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.