February 21, 2019

The Science of Dreaming That You Forgot to Put on Pants

“One muggy Saturday last summer, I went on a date with a man who seemed entirely fine. We drank two beers and went for a walk, and he explained why he liked certain buildings that we passed. We kissed, and his breath tasted like cigarettes. We parted ways, and I couldn’t muster the energy to answer his emoji-laden follow-up texts about my weekend activities.

The date was mediocre at best — but in the days that followed, I second-guessed my decision not to see him again. Maybe I had written him off too soon; maybe I should have given things a chance to develop. After all, he had some good qualities. He was handsome, tall, employed — and not, refreshingly, as a writer.

It was only after a painfully on-the-nose dream a few weeks later that I stopped doubting my intuition. In the dream, I had agreed to a second date, and I had brought along two friends to observe our interactions and help me assess him. At the end of the group outing, my friends pulled me away and offered a unanimous decision: He wasn’t for me. I had made the right call.

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have accepted the conventional wisdom: We shouldn’t dwell on our dreams. Even though research suggests that REM sleep — when most dreaming takes place — is crucial for mental and physical health, we think of dreams as silly little stories, the dandruff of the brain. We’re taught that talking about our dreams is juvenile, self-indulgent, and that we should shake off their traces and get on with our day.”

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