Everyone dreams—every single night— and yet we tend to know so little about our dreams. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Can we control them and should we try to interpret them? We spoke to the dream experts to bring you twenty surprising facts about dreams. Read before snoozing!
Dreaming is one of the most mysterious and interesting experiences in our lives.
During the Roman Era some dreams were even submitted to the Roman Senate for analysis and dream interpretation. They were thought to be messages from the gods. Dream interpreters even accompanied military leaders into battles and campaigns!
In addition to this, it is also known that many artists have received their creative ideas from their dreams.
But what do we actually know about dreams?
Here are 20 interesting facts about dreams – enjoy and what’s most important, don’t forget to share your dream stories in the comment section!
1. Dreaming can help you learn.
If you’re studying for a test or trying to learn a new task, you might consider taking a nap or heading to bed early rather than hovering over a textbook an hour longer. Here’s why: When the brain dreams, it helps you learn and solve problems, say researchers at Harvard Medical School. In a study that appeared in a recent issue of Current Biology, researchers report that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and understanding new information. To improve the quality of your sleep—and your brain’s ability to learn—avoid noise in the bedroom, such as the TV, which may negatively impact the length and quality of dreams.
The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety. Negative emotions are more common than positive ones.
3. Dream Incorporation
Our mind interprets the external stimuli that our senses are bombarded with when we are asleep and make them a part of our dreams. This means that sometimes in our dreams we hear a sound from reality and incorporate it in a way. For example you may be dreaming that you are in a concert while your brother is playing a guitar during your sleep.
4. Men and Women Dream Differently
Men tend to dream more about other men. Around 70% of the characters in a man’s dream are other men. On the other hand, a woman’s dream contains almost an equal number of men and women. Aside from that, men generally have more aggressive emotions in their dreams than the female lot.
5. You can experience an org a s m in your dream
You can not only have s e x as pleasurable as in your real life while dreaming, but also experience an o r g asm as strong as a real one without any wet results. The sensations felt while lucid dreaming (touch, pleasure and etc..) can be as pleasurable and strong (or I believe even stronger) as the sensations experienced in the real world.
Did you think only men experience this phenomenon? Not true, says Barbara Bartlik, MD, a psychiatrist and sex therapist in New York. Warning, further reading may produce blushing: “Women have orgasms during their sleep, just as men do,” she says. “These orgasms often accompany erotic dreams, but they also may occur during dreams of a non-erotic nature.” When women dream, she says, it’s not uncommon for their genitals to become engorged and lubricated. “This occurs during REM sleep, which happens several times during the night,” she says. A similar thing happens to men. “Men get erections during REM sleep, whether or not the man is having an erotic dream.”
6. You can control your dreams.
The premise of the new movie Inception is that people can take the reins of their dreams and make them what they want them to be. But it may not just be a Hollywood fantasy. According to the results of a new survey of 3,000 people, dream control, or “lucid dreaming” may be a real thing. In fact, 64.9 percent of participants reported being aware they were dreaming within a dream, and 34 percent said they can sometimes control what happens in their dreams. Taking charge of the content of your dreams isn’t a skill everyone has, but it can be developed, says Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California. The technique is particularly useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares, he says. Dr. Bulkeley suggests giving yourself a pep talk of sorts before you go to sleep by saying: “If I have that dream again, I’m going to try to remember that’s it’s only a dream, and be aware of that.” When you learn to be aware that you are dreaming—within a dream—you not only have the power to steer yourself away from the monster and into the arms of Brad Pitt, for instance, but you train your mind to avoid nightmares in the first place. “Lucid dreaming enhances your ability to learn from the dream state,” says Dr. Bulkeley.
7. Animals Dream Too
Studies have been done on many different animals, and they all show the same brain waves during dreaming sleep as humans. Watch a dog sleeping sometime. The paws move like they are running and they make yipping sounds as if they are chasing something in a dream.
8. You can have several—even a dozen—dreams in one night.
It’s not just one dream per night, but rather dozens of them, say experts—you just may not remember them all. “We dream every 90 minutes throughout the night, with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the previous,” explains Loewenberg. “The first dream of the night is about 5 minutes long and the last dream you have before awakening can be 45 minutes to an hour long.” It is estimated that most people have more than 100,000 dreams in a lifetime.
9. Blind People also Dream
People who became blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion.
10. Recurring dreams may be your mind’s way of telling you something.
Do you have the same nightmare over and over again? Loewenberg suggests looking for underlying messages in recurring dreams so that you can rid yourself of them. For example, a common recurring nightmare people have involves losing or cracking their teeth. For this dream, she recommends that people think about what your teeth and your mouth represent. “To the dreaming mind, your teeth, as well as any part of your mouth, are symbolic of your words,” she says. “Paying attention to your teeth dreams helps you to monitor and improve the way you communicate.”
11. You Forget 90% of Your Dreams
Within 5 minutes of waking half of your dream is forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone.
12. Precognitive Dreams
Results of several surveys across large population sets indicate that between 18% and 38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive dream and 70% have experienced déjà vu. The percentage of persons that believe precognitive dreaming is possible is even higher – ranging from 63% to 98%.
*Precognition, also called future sight, refers to perception that involves the acquisition of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information.
13. Dreams are Symbolic
If you dream about some particular subject it is not often that the dream is about that. Dreams speak in a deeply symbolic language. Whatever symbol your dream picks on it is most unlikely to be a symbol for itself.
14. Everybody Dreams
Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder). If you think you are not dreaming – you just forget your dreams.
15. In Our Dreams We Only See Faces That We already Know
Our mind is not inventing faces – in our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces throughout our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.
16. Not Everybody Dreams in Color
A full 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s maintained that the majority of dreams were in black and white, but these results began to change in the 1960s. Today only 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white. Recent research has suggested that those changing results may be linked to the switch from black-and-white film and TV to color media.
17. The most common dream? Your spouse is cheating.
If you’ve ever woken up in a cold sweat after dreaming about your husband’s extramarital escapade with your best friend, you’re not alone, says Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a dream expert, author and media personality. “The most commonly reported dream is the one where your mate is cheating,” she says. Loewenberg conducted a survey of more than 5,000 people, and found that the infidelity dream is the nightmare that haunts most people—sometimes on a recurring basis. It rarely has anything to do with an actual affair, she explains, but rather the common and universal fear of being wronged or left alone.
18. Body Paralysis
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a normal stage of sleep characterized by rapid movements of the eyes. REM sleep in adult humans typically occupies 20-25% of total sleep, about 90-120 minutes of a night’s sleep.
During REM sleep the body is paralyzed by a mechanism in the brain in order to prevent the movements which occur in the dream from causing the physical body to move. However, it is possible for this mechanism to be triggered before, during, or after normal sleep while the brain awakens.
19. You can have four to seven dreams in one night.
On average you can dream anywhere from one or two hours every night.
20. If you are snoring, then you cannot be dreaming.
This fact is repeated all over the Internet, but I’m a bit suspicious whether it’s really true as I haven’t found any scientific evidence to support it.
Well, I hope you had a great time reading these strange facts about our dreams. Now I’m going to my bed to check those facts once again. Good night and sweet dreams!
BMSS Addendum: In conventions for the blind, they often segregate themselves as being born blind versus being advantageously blind (where blindness occurred after being able to see). My advantageously blind Psychology of Sleep and Dreams professor stated that once he went blind, he still retained the ability to see in his dreams, but after a while, his dreams became more sensory related to touch, smell and sound versus visual cognition.
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