Are dreams about what you watch on TV meaningful?

It’s easy to dismiss a dream as ‘just’ being about the TV show you watched before bed, nothing too meaningful, but wait! These dreams can provide deep insight into your mindset and your life.

The same applies to dreams featuring bits and pieces from the film you saw at the cinema, the play you attended at the theatre, or the book you were reading that evening.

Most TV shows, films, plays, and books explore at least one major dilemma to be resolved. The characters wrestle with issues and challenges until some sort of resolution or change in perspective is reached at the end of the story. If you are totally immersed in the drama, you are right in there, empathising with one character, mystified by another, perhaps angry with someone else, or urging the whole cast to come to a mutually beneficial understanding.

The elements of the drama that resonated with your personal dilemmas, challenges, and unresolved issues can find their way into your dreams for further processing. You might dream about your personal relationship issues if you watched a show about a relationship breakup, and that dream may look nothing like the show, or it may feature one or more of the characters, the location, or a particular event. Your dreaming mind is busy processing the input from the show you watched, helping you to uncover or resolve deeper issues about your relationship, find new perspectives, and generally update your mindset to prepare you for a new day.

So don’t dismiss your dream as ‘just’ being about the show you watched: explore it to discover more about yourself, the issues the show brought up for you, and how to resolve these.

Another job of your dreaming mind is to problem-solve things of a less emotional nature. If you go to bed puzzled about how to fix a household device, you might wake up with an answer that had eluded you the night before. That answer might be the glaringly obvious that was too bright for you to see when you were tired, or it might be incredibly creative. Whether or not you remember your dreams of that night, it’s highly likely that the solution was found during a dream that was processing all the bits and pieces of the puzzle.

Why do I mention this?

During the show you watched before bed, your mind might have been working hard trying to follow clues, be the detective, work out who the murderer was, who stole the jewels, or what kind of technology might save the world from destruction. If all the ends were tied up nicely to your satisfaction before the credits rolled, your dreaming mind might not be enticed to keep working on solving these problems for you. But if you were still puzzled, or if the elements of the problem were emotionally close to home for you, or – and this is the biggie – you were watching a series and had to go to bed after an episode that finished on a cliffhanger, then your dreaming mind is likely to do its best problem-solving for you while you sleep.

But again: don’t dismiss such a dream as ‘just’ being about trying to solve the whodunnit clues or work out possible outcomes for the cliffhanger from the pre-sleep episode. While you might not really need to update your mindset on fictional murders, or how to get back to the future after time travelling to the past, such a dream can reveal the way your mindset approaches a problem in general. You might discover when exploring your dream, for example, that your unconscious mindset drives you to expect failure, or impels you to passively wait for rescue from a metaphorical cliffhanger that has you suspended in your personal life.

While these dreams affected by your media consumption can be extremely helpful, once interpreted, what can you do if your dreams always seem to be continuations of your evening watching, and you’d rather get to know yourself more through dreams with different scenarios?

Brush up on your sleep hygiene: have a screen break of at least an hour before sleep, partly to offset the effect of blue light on interfering with your melatonin levels and ability to fall asleep, and partly to avoid over-stimulating your mind before bed. Make sure that you spend some time, every day, in nature, or simply outdoors, focussing on your senses and the present moment, gathering non-screen experiences and symbols to populate your dreams.

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Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in developmental neurobiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author (her latest book is her debut fiction, NINTH LIFE), and is a frequent guest in the media. She is also host of the long-running podcast, 'The Dream Show with Jane Teresa Anderson', and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.