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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

TODAY asked you to send us your dreams or nightmares earlier this month. As part of a segment on the show about his work and his life, Charles McPhee, former host of the Dream Doctor Radio Show, chose to interpret three of them. Two deal with common themes: flying and getting lost. Charles tells us what these dreams can tell us about troubles in our own lives. The third one is also common, but instead of giving the sleeper insight into her waking life, it is a warning about a serious health problem.

If you’d like to send Charles your dream and participate in his study with Marvin Bressler, professor emeritus of sociology at Princeton University, visit his Web site, the meantime, here are his interpretations of TODAY readers’ dreams:

Always lost

I can’t get back to where I started. I’m in a motel … I leave my room, but cannot get back to it … drive out of a town cannot get back, the road dead ends, but I can see the town from the dead end. Leave the motel, go to dinner, cannot find the motel. Park my car, go to dinner, cannot find car, I can find where I parked it, but the car is not there, and I cannot find it. I ask someone for help, they cannot help me. — Anonymous, Washington

Hi Anonymous: If you’re feeling lost in a dream, you have a lot of company. The dreams represent confused feelings about “the direction you are headed” in your life. For example, dreams of lost cars are common when uncertainty exists in your career. You don’t know “how you are going to make it” to the next destination on your career path. What’s the solution? Next time you have this dream, ask where you are feeling lost and uncertain in your waking life. Then sit down with a pen and paper, and start designing a road map to your future. Be specific about your goals, and the steps you need to take to achieve them.

High flyer

I used to have a repetitive dream about flying. This was the most wonderful dream, and I always enjoyed it. In this dream, I would fly down and over through beautiful green valleys and hills as a person, but like a bird. In my dream, I could control the elevation of my flight through concentration. The more I concentrated, the higher I could fly. With less concentration, I could go closer to the ground. Sometimes I would also be in the middle of a large crowd in a downtown city that looked like Chicago or New York with tall buildings. Sometimes in my dream, I would think it was fun to concentrate really hard and lift off in the middle of this crowd and surprise them by flying over them and over the tall buildings still controlling the elevation of my flight through my concentration. Sometimes, when my concentration would start failing me and my elevation was dropping, regardless of how much I concentrated, I would feel like a hot air balloon that lost its air and have to go back down with my feet on the ground. This would also happen, when I was standing on the ground and try concentrating as hard as I could and still not lift myself more than a few feet off of the ground. — Pam T., Avon, Ind.

Hi Pam: All your neighbors are jealous. You can fly in your dreams, and you don’t mind showing off either! Flying in dreams is a metaphor for confidence, and not all flying dreams, as your experience shows, are the same. In some dreams it’s easy to soar like an eagle. In others, it’s hard to get off the ground — you feel like your flying privileges have been revoked.  While both dreams involve flying, they actually have very different meanings. If you’re cruising above the clouds, it’s a reliable indicator that you’re feeling good about yourself.  You’re feeling “on top of the world” and think that any goal is within reach. Give yourself a pat on the back for this dream.

If your dream wings are clipped and you can’t take off and get going like you hoped — this dream is a sign that you’re feeling grounded in real life. It’s time to identify the goal that you wish you could achieve, but which you feel is out of reach. A plan with simple steps will have you flying again in no time.

Sweet but dangerous

I often dream that I am chewing a large amount of very soft pink bubble gum and it gets caught in the back of my throat. I try to get it out and my mouth is just full of this gum and I can’t get it out! I have probably had this dream since I was a teenager and I am now 53 years old! — Judy M., Paulding, Ohio

Hi Judy: Danger!! Warning!! This “silly old dream” is actually warning you about a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea!!

I’ve heard this dream a thousand times, Judy, and the scenario is always the same. Just from hearing your dream, I know you are constantly tired during the daytime, and are a restless sleeper at night. I know it’s easy for you to fall asleep — sometimes in public places — and your constant sleepiness can be embarrassing and can interfere with your work, social and family life. You’ve lived with it for so long (since you were a teenager) that you’ve come to think that being tired is normal. Well, it’s not, and understanding the meaning of this dream is about to change your life.

The soft, pink bubble gum in your dream really represents your tongue (that other big, soft, pink thing in your mouth when you sleep) that is falling backwards and blocking your airway during sleep. Your dream is letting you know that your airway is being repeatedly blocked all night long by your tongue. This is the meaning of the big wad of gum that you just can’t clear from your mouth. This blockage — known as sleep apnea — causes hundreds of micro-arousals during the night (that you won’t remember, but your body will) and it causes high blood pressure and doubles your risk for heart attack and stroke.

You need to go to a sleep disorders center now to have your sleep evaluated. Write me a note when you get treated, and let us all hear about your new lease on life. The dream will be gone — and so will your constant tiredness and risk of heart disease!

For more information on Charles McPhee, visit his Web site,