Turns out, a peaceful mind can foster happier dreams.
It has long been assumed that the content of dreams can tell us something about a person's well-being. However, so far, dream researchers have mostly studied the dreams of people suffering from various disorders and we know very little about the positive side. Well-being researchers, on the other hand, have specifically studied happiness, but have neglected an important aspect of well-being - peace of mind.
Lead author Pilleriin Sikka says, "We wanted to address these important gaps in both dream and well-being research and to study how dream emotions are related to not only different aspects of waking ill-being but also to different aspects of waking well-being, including peace of mind. In fact, this is the first study to look at how peace of mind relates to dream content."
Peace of mind is a state of inner peace and harmony, a more complex and durable state of well-being traditionally associated with happiness in the Eastern cultures.
"Even though it has rarely been directly measured in studies of well-being, in several philosophical traditions and spiritual approaches, peace of mind has always been regarded as central to human flourishing," added co-author Antti Revonsuo.
The findings of the study showed that if we want to understand how dream content is related to well-being. It is not enough to measure only the symptoms of mental ill-being; we should measure well-being in its own right.
"Surprisingly, those aspects that are typically considered and measured as 'well-being' were not related to dream content. So there seems to be something unique about peace of mind and anxiety," added Sikka.
The researchers propose that individuals with higher levels of peace of mind may be better able to regulate their emotions, not only in the waking state but also during dreaming, whereas the opposite may be true for those with higher levels of anxiety.
The full findings are present in the journal- Scientific Reports.