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What Our Dreams Are Trying to Tell Us

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 The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show. Kaia grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a household filled with teachers and storytellers. In elementary school, she usually fell asleep listening to recordings of 1950s radio comedy programs. After a semester of writing for her high school newspaper, she decided she hated journalism. While pursuing her bachelor’s in environmental studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, she got talked back into it. Kaia received a master’s degree from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism, where she focused on reporting and science communication. She has published stories with Our State Magazine, Indy Week, and HuffPost. She most recently worked as the manager for a podcast on environmental sustainability and higher education. Her reporting passions include climate and the environment, health and science, food and women’s issues. When not working at WUNC, Kaia goes pebble-wrestling, takes long bike rides, and reads while hammocking.
Anita Rao is 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. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.