Dreams are a natural part of sleeping. Surprisingly, many things about dreams and their purpose still remain unknown. Nevertheless, science is making progress in discovering the mysteries behind dreams. From premonition dreams and most common nightmares to sleep paralysis, check out these 25 interesting facts about dreams you might not be aware of.
A psychological research discovered that people who used to watch monochrome television as kids, often dream in black and white.
Most people have anywhere between 4 to 6 dreams per night. However, you won't always remember them. Most of us forget about 95-99% of our dreams.
On rare occasions, people can have dreams in which they see what will happen in the future. Known as premonition dreams, these dreams have been documented on many different occasions including some of the worst tragedies such as the 9/11 attacks, the Titanic disaster, plane crashes, etc. Are they mere coincidence or do these people somehow tap into some supernatural foresight? There's definitely a strong debate but the short answers is "we simply don't know".
Some people can consciously observe and even control their dreams. This unusual phenomenon is known as lucid dreaming.
According to the American Psychological Association dreams recharge your creativity. Studies have shown that dreams may help ordinary people find creative solutions to their problems. It also suggests that dreams model the free association process of creativity which precedes actual creation.
When we fall asleep, our brains don't shut down. Quite the opposite. Our brains become even more active. Sleep for humans is divided in two main phases (which go through 5 stages): non-REM (stages 1-4) and REM sleep (stage 5). REM sleep is where most of our dreams happen (but sometimes they happen in the non-REM phase as well), During REM sleep, our brains can become even more active than when we are awake because in simple terms, patterns of brain activity are more random and variable during this phase.
Dreams occur in all five stages of sleep but nightmares tend to occur in the final stage (REM) which is associated with high brain activity, rapid eye movements and inhibited voluntary motor activity.
There have been people who dreamt of inventions that they actually made later in their real life. These inventions, envisioned in dreams, include alternating current generators, DNA’s double helix, sewing machine, periodic table and guillotine.
Blind people have dreams as well. People who went blind later in life have visual dreams just like anybody else. However, people who are blind from birth have dreams that feature elevated levels of sensory perception similar to how they would experience the world while they are awake.
Speaking of blind people dreaming, a 2014 study done by a group of Danish researchers found that blind people have more nightmares than non-blind people. In the study, 25 percent of the blind participants experienced nightmares compared to 7 percent of the later onset group and 6 percent of the non-blind group.
It's common for men to experience erections in the final REM stage of sleep. However, researchers recently discovered that these erections are not necessarily related to erotic dreams as previously thought. Nevertheless, the origin and purpose of these night erections remains unknown.
Dream studies have revealed that dream experiences are mostly negative. Dreams that feature negative emotions such as fear, anger and anxiety are more common than positive dreams.
Although most dreams are negative, the word “dream” itself has a positive connotation. It has its origin in the Middle English word “dreme” which means "joy" and "music".
There are some differences between the dreams of men and women. Men´s dreams tend to be more violent and feature less characters than women´s. Men also dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.
It's estimated that in five minutes after the end of a dream, we've already forgotten 50% of it. Ten minutes later, we have forgotten 90% of it.
Also known as the “spirit molecule,” Dimethyltryptamine (or DMT) is the chemical substance that is believed to be responsible for dreams. Some people enjoy dreaming so much that they use the synthetic form of the substance in order to have dreams even during the day.
Some say that even the most terrifying nightmares such as those of death, monsters, being chased etc. usually do not represent bad omens. Instead, they rather signify major changes or emotional moments in your real life.
If you want to learn more about the meaning of dreams, check out our list on the 25 most common dreams and their meanings.
Scientists say it is very likely that animals have dreams as well. Most mammals experience the REM stage of sleep in which dreams occur so it is reasonable to suppose they dream just like us. However, scientists now believe birds, reptiles, and possibly even fish, could be dreamers.
Our dreams can feature many characters but our mind is not inventing them – in our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember.
Not self-aware, toddlers up till the age of 4 cannot see themselves in their dreams.
Sleepwalking is real and can be a potentially dangerous thing. People who sleepwalk suffer from a form of REM sleep disorder where they act out complex actions while still sleeping. There have been extreme stories involving people who sleepwalk. One guy drove 10 miles and killed his in-law, then there's a 55-year-old chef who cooks while sleeping, and probably one of the most artistic ones is a the male nurse that produces "fantastical artworks" while sleepwalking.
To prevent us from doing things like sleepwalking, our muscles are paralyzed during REM sleep. In some cases, however, this paralysis can carry over into the waking state for as long as several minutes. This extremely unpleasant state of mind and body is known as sleep paralysis.
We start to dream as early as in the prenatal stage of our life. Scientists have observed dreams in fetuses just around 7 months old and it is thought that the very first dreams (based just on sounds and sensation) can occur even earlier.
According to research, the most common setting for everyone´s dreams is their own house.
Dreams are usually very subjective, influenced by our personal experiences but there are several universal themes that people all over the world seem to dream of. These themes include dreams of being chased or attacked, falling, being unable to move and being naked in public.
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