Here's What It Means When You Dream About Your Childhood

We've all been there. You wake up in a completely different world, wondering where on earth you've been for the last eight hours' slumber. As Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and author of "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams," puts it, people have their "most vivid, hallucinogenic, narrative, memory-laden dreams" during the REM stage of sleep (via Business Insider), so it makes sense that these vivid dreams can have you waking up feeling confused.

But when you dream about your childhood, you have the added confusion between memories and made-up scenarios in your new dreams. So what does it mean when you dream about your childhood? The List asked the experts to share some insight, and it turns out dreaming of your childhood could mean a number of things.  

Dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg explains, "The subconscious will often borrow things from our past and incorporate them into our dreams because it is recognizing that something in our present seems very similar to something from back then." She adds that it can change depending on the scenario, but "often there is a lesson we learnt then that we need to remember now."

Your inner child may want to come out and play

Sometimes dreaming of your childhood can indicate a yearning for your inner child and who you were in your childhood (via What Your Dream Means). Maybe part of you wants to let go a little bit, and have some fun, or perhaps you're under too much pressure and want to escape responsibility for a bit, either way, dreaming of your childhood can mean a desire to return to simpler times.

On the other side of things, says Lauri Loewenberg, if you're raising children of your own, you could be getting more conscious of how it is "important to remember the perspective of a child."

Loewenberg also shared her thoughts of dreaming of a childhood home. She notes, "Usually, in these dreams, we are still living there even though we are our current adult self."

With this, it's important to keep in mind that your dream might not be about the house itself, but rather "who you were when you lived there or what your life was like when you lived there," adds Lowenberg. If your childhood home is where you grew up, Loewenberg asks, "Is there a situation in real life where you need to grow up and handle it like an adult?" 

Here's how a childhood trauma shows up in your dreams

Having unresolved trauma from a difficult childhood can be hard enough, but it can seem pretty unfair when those memories come back to haunt your dreams. For example, if you dealt with abuse or neglect during your child years and those experiences are showing up in your dreams, Lauri Loewenberg explains, "Your subconscious may be showing you that part of you is still living in the past."

Dreams can also offer the opportunity to try out different responses to past events, potentially simulating threatening events to develop threat-avoidance skills (via National Library of Medicine). However, if you're dreaming of the same trauma over and over again, Loewenberg adds, "You may not have gotten the help you need to process and overcome the childhood trauma or pain."

Of course, when discussing dream interpretation, it's important to understand metaphor (via Psychology Today). Loewenberg notes that dreaming of your childhood could also mean that you "may be acting childish in some area of your life right now," as if you're at the maturity of the age in the dream. If these dreams are happening, "your subconscious may want you to make an adult decision," adds Loewenberg. In the same vein, dreaming of being a child could represent inexperience in certain situations (via Dream Dictionary).

Here's how passions and old friends show up while you're sleeping

If you find yourself dreaming of passions and activities you used to do when you were a child, Lauri Loewenberg says that your subconscious wants you to remember your childhood ambitions and goals and enthusiasm, and "life may have distracted you from them." Perhaps its time to pick up that hobby again?

Loewenberg adds that if you're dreaming of your childhood, and there is the appearance of other children you don't know, it can be an indication of "a project, idea or endeavor of yours that is not fully developed and still needs your care and focus."

But what if those other children are childhood friends of yours? This can represent underlying feelings, depending on what's happening in your life at the time of the dream (via AuntyFlo). For example, if you're fighting with your old friend in the dream, it can mean that you're not giving enough credit where it's due. On the other hand, if you're having a pleasant experience with your old friend, it can indicate the aspects of the relationship that you are missing.

As AuntyFlo, if you're dreaming of a childhood friend, it can also represent a regression in your waking life and it can show getting back to the basics, which might be a good thing if you're under stress and feel like life is too serious.