Dreams don't have a one-size-fits-all meaning. But here are the broad interpretations of the most common ones, as well as tips for deciphering your quirkier journeys.
Step 1: Tell yourself to remember Before you go to sleep, tell yourself you're going to remember everything you dream.
Step 2: Lie still Upon waking, don't move a muscle--or even open your eyes. Lie still for a few minutes, committing your dream to memory.
Step 3: Record the dream Grab your dream journal and record as much of the dream as you remember.
TIP: Write quickly--your dreams are stored in the same part of the brain as your short-term memory, which is why they fade so fast.
Step 4: Review your journal Every month or so, review your dream journal. Did recent dreams involve being chased, falling, or drowning? Those are the three most common dreams; they suggest you're feeling threatened, helpless and overwhelmed in real life.
TIP: Age and gender influence dreams. Women in their twenties often dream they can't find a restroom (indicating their personal needs are not being met) and thirty-something women often discover rooms they never knew existed (meaning they feel guilty about neglecting something).
Step 5: Note teeth dreams Pay attention to dreams where your teeth are falling out. This means you're caught up in a situation you have doubts about, and you're feeling powerless to change it.
TIP: Having trouble remembering your dreams? Each night before bed, jot down a few thoughts on what you did and how you felt that day. This can increase dream retention by 40%.
Step 6: Note naked dreams Keep track of the very popular "I'm-naked-in-public-and-I-don't-know-why" dream--it means you're feeling vulnerable and exposed.
Step 7: Note car dreams Note any dream involving a car crash or breakdown; it's a sign something in your life is out of control.
Step 8: Note school dreams Don't dismiss the "I'm back in school and totally unprepared for this exam" dream. Figure out what part of your life you feel is being judged or tested, and what you can do about it.
Step 9: Note dreams of the deceased No need to panic if you see dead people; it just means you're feeling guilty about someone's death--or worried about how their passing will affect you.
TIP: It's up to you to figure out what the objects and players in your dreams represent. A child's dream about a mouse probably means something different than an exterminator's dream about a mouse!
Step 10: Keep analyzing Keep recording and analyzing your dreams. The more you do it, the better you'll get at it!