“Dreams are often the most profound when they seem the most crazy.

— Dr. Sigmund Freud

For the past 15 years, January 24 has been officially proclaimed “Belly Laugh Day.” We all know laughter can often be the best medicine, thus if you’ve ever laughed yourself awake, you may have actually improved your well-being.

Laughter not only lightens your mood and reduces stress, it also induces positive, physical changes in the body. Whether awake or asleep, the endorphins released by your brain when you laugh produce natural painkillers,1 while the intake of oxygen-rich air can stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles. 

Have you ever been around someone laughing and started to do the same without knowing why? Laughter is contagious – even animals laugh. Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs, and even rats love a good tickle and belly laugh. Healing laughter is something we all want to share and catch, so tickle your furry friends often.2

In fact, laughter may have been a precursor to language. People have been laughing since before they could talk, literally. Babies laugh in their sleep3 before they can speak, and some scientists think human ancestors laughed in groups before they developed language.

If you feel that laughing for the sake of health feels forced, try these three tips:

  • Find a way to laugh about daily personal situations to reduce stress and increase personal satisfaction because doing so can make it easier to cope with difficulties. 
  • Try laughing yoga and practice laughter as a group. 
  • Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. Return the favor by sharing your funny personal situations and stories with them. 

Our dream world is a microcosm of our waking world, so is it any wonder we can laugh in our dreams? As we celebrate 2023, let’s empower our inner-child joy and set the dream intention to belly laugh as we sleep like a baby. Write your intention in your dream journal or on a piece of paper. Then place the paper under your pillow to ‘sleep on it.’ Laugh and the dream world laughs with you. 

Let’s also resolve to have a daily belly laugh for a healthier and happier year, and if laughter is indeed a form of medicine, laugh ’til it heals.

Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos of Rancho Mirage is a survivor, author, dream expert, speaker, TV/radio host/producer and has been featured on Dr. Oz and The Doctors. Her new book Dreams That Can Save Your Life is available now. For more information, visit www.KathleenOkeefeKanavos.com.

References: 1) https://www.nbcnews.com/health/body-odd/comic-relief-laughter-natural-painkiller-flna1c7137345;  2) https://www.openculture.com/2022/01/animals-laugh-too-ucla-study-finds-laughter-in-65-species-from-rats-to-cows.html; 3) https://www.bettersleep.com/blog/sleepwalking-in-kids

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