Where do we go when we dream?

Should we pay more attention to our dreams? Are they signs from our subconscious, guiding and pointing us in certain directions? Perhaps that would explain why we often feel the need to describe them to others: to help make sense of them. Since being pregnant my dreams have got wilder. They are vivid and often haunting. I was told that you can’t dream about a face you’ve never seen, but strangers regularly pitch up in mine. Some people say it’s boring when others talk about their dreams. I disagree. I think it’s fascinating to hear where minds go at night; our parallel lives. Whether they cover frightening or familiar territory, dreams

The best podcasts to be enjoyed at 4 a.m.

Now that all of the billionaires are going into space, the night sky holds a special new kind of allure. We see a little twinkle in the distance and we can think to ourselves, there they are, out there, far away, away from us. It’s not clear whether Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk spent their childhoods looking up at the stars, fantasising fervently about joining them at some future date, or if they are now just bored. But perhaps their sense of identification and belonging in the vast night sky can be understood in another way. Humans have always told stories about the stars, and many of these myths could

The importance of daydreams

I miss daydreaming. It’s a small problem to have in a pandemic, but it nags at me. Laptop, cooker, home-school, broom. ‘Mum, Mum, Mumma, Mum… You’re not looking, Mum. You have to look!’ The gap between things seems to have disappeared. There’s no time to drift and wander. I look at my phone too much, and sometimes I have the strange feeling my brain is suffocating. And I might not have thought this worth mentioning were it not for a new book, When Brains Dream, by a pair of American sleep scientists, Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold. Bob and Tony, they call themselves throughout the book, and if they’re right,

Memory – and the stuff of dreams

Can you remember when you heard about 9/11? Chances are you’ll be flooded instantly with memories — not only where you were, but what you were doing, who you were with, what you could smell and see at the time as well as how you felt. How does that happen? In the first half of this fascinating book, Dr Veronica O’Keane explains the neurological pathways and processes involved in memory. We are constantly receiving stimuli from our environment via the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. These sensations travel via cells called neurons which are electrically activated and release various transmitters into the spaces between them and

A high-end car-boot sale of the unconscious: Colnaghi’s Dreamsongs reviewed

In 1772 the 15-year-old Mozart wrote a one-act opera set, like The Magic Flute, in a dream world. Il sogno di Scipione was based on an account in Cicero’s Republic of a dream experienced by the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus while serving in North Africa in 148 BC. In the dream the younger Scipio is visited by his adoptive grandfather Scipio Africanus, who foretells his destruction of Carthage, dishes out advice on dealing with populist politics and shows him ‘the stars such as we have never seen them from this earth’. Scipio’s is a recurring dream: it inspired Dante’s vision of Heaven and Hell and it returns to haunt us