Dreaming is an essential part of the human psyche, but we often reduce it to a mundane everyday experience. However, dreams are anything but ordinary, and they can reveal a lot about who we are – our anxieties, fears, desires, and more. So, if you’d like to uncover more about why and how we dream, then keep on reading.
You might wake up with the question, “what on earth did I just dream about?” or “what is the meaning of having such bizarre dreams? We will attempt to help you answer these questions and more to unlock the mysteries of our subconscious minds.
Scientists are yet to discover many secrets about our dreams, but this post will reveal some facts about dreams that will either leave you feeling excited or dreading tonight’s sleep. Are you intrigued yet?
Here are 51 mind-blowing psychological facts about dreams that can hopefully answer your questions.
51 Psychological Facts About Dreams
Did you know that your day informs your dreams? One could argue that our dreams reflect our daily lives and possibly everything else that the subconscious has picked up on. Therefore, dreams are the part of human existence that we cannot fully understand and control, which will keep us on our toes for years to come.
Below, you will also discover the symbolic meaning behind specific dreams, how they can affect our memory and other interesting facts.
Humans have always been fascinated by dreams throughout history. From the earliest recordings of dreams that were founded on 5000-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablets; to Sigmund Freud’s “The interpretations of Dreams” and Native-American beliefs and religious practices that seems to revolve around dreams.
Many cultures believe that our dreams contain deeper meanings and reveal much about reality, religion and spirituality that we cannot comprehend with the conscious mind. Most of our dreams are visual, with little sound or movement. Our brain sees pictures while we dream the same way it processes reality when we’re awake.
There are many theories as to why we dream. Some theories suggest that dreams are a reflection of our unconscious wishes and wants, or that dreams process our daily experiences.
Perhaps our dreams serve as a form of psychotherapy (the treatment of mental disorder by psychological means). Whatever the reason may be, scientists are still puzzled by the complexities of dreaming.
We tend to have our most realistic dreams during the REM stage of sleep, which will generally last around an hour. The “Rapid Eye Movement” stage starts to kick in about 90 minutes after falling asleep.
Some dream in color while others dream in only black and white. The exception is people who mostly dream in colour but would dream in black and white now and then. Black and white dreaming generally means that you dream from an observer’s point of view with a lack of emotional participation.
Some studies have suggested that violent outbursts during REM sleep could be an early warning sign of Neurodegenerative Disorders. Studies on REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) done by Mayo Clinic and Washington University School of Medicine suggest that more than half of people diagnosed with RBD will go on to develop mental and physical health issues such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
The link between neurodegeneration and RBD is a protein called alpha-synuclein, which the brain releases when you dream. Over time, the protein can build up and cluster, damaging the brain and eventually leading to neurodegenerative disease. All that information may have been a lot to take in, but it shows how complex the mind is and how dreams can affect it.
There are some differences in how men and women dream. Generally, women tend to have more characters and longer-lasting dreams than their male counterparts. They also dream about both male and female characters equally, and dream about depression.
Men tend to dream more about other men and themes such as sexuality and physical aggression.
Those born blind have no understanding of sight, so they cannot see in their dreams either. However, people who become blind later in life can still have visual dreams. Also, blind people tend to have more nightmares than non-blind people.
Lucid dreaming is the ability to be conscious during a dream, typically when you are in the REM stage of sleep. About half of the world’s population have had a lucid dream, but they usually only occur a few times per year.
Some people believe that you can learn to control your lucid dreams, and there are many techniques that you can use to achieve this sense of control in your dream world. There are various methods you can use to induce more lucid dreams into your sleep.
Ways to gain consciousness and control in your dream state includes keeping a dream journal or repeating phrases like “I will have a lucid dream tonight,” or “I will realize patterns in my dreams and become conscious,” before bed-time.
By the time you wake up, you’ll have forgotten most of your dreams–up to 90% of them within minutes. Keeping a dream journal and having a consistent sleep cycle could help you remember your dreams.
Wet dreams are a common phenomenon that occur not only in your teenage years but throughout life, and they don’t only affect men. Both genders and all ages can experience nocturnal orgasms.
These wet dreams are not proven to be linked to erotic fantasies and may occur more during puberty and times of abstinence. Nevertheless, it is believed that wet dreams can reveal your deepest sexual desires.
Precognitive dreams, also known as premonition dreams, contain knowledge about the future, and up to 98% of people believe that it is possible to have them. More people experience deja vu, an uncanny sensation that you have dreamt or experienced something in the past.
Pets dream about their daily experiences. Dogs can dream about their anxieties and fears and the things that make them happy, like their favorite snack or toy. Cats will most likely dream about being on a hunt, or about their owners, food, and toys. Here are more fascinating facts about cats for you to enjoy.
The National Sleep Foundation alleges that the average human dreams four to six times per night.
Dream-reality confusion is when you can’t determine if something has occurred during the waking state or a dream. Try looking around for clocks if you’re still confused, as they never appear in dreams.
When you dream, almost all emotions can be involved, but most dreams contain a lot of negative emotions.
Sleep paralysis happens when you wake up during the dream phase. Our bodies are wired to shut down when we dream, which causes our muscles to relax to a point where they can’t move. Your mind may be awake, but while you’re still in the dream phase, your brain cannot signal your body, so you end up conscious but paralyzed–a very frightening experience.
The brain can’t create brand new faces, so all the characters in your dreams are only faces you’ve seen in your lifetime.
Dreams can be shared and experienced by many people on a global scale. Here are some examples of universal dreams that we have all dreamt of at some point in our lives:
- Falling and drowning
- Failing tests
- Being chased or attacked
- Public nudity or inappropriate clothing
- Missing a bus, train or other transportation
Some people get addicted to certain drugs that induce vivid and abnormal dreams as it offers an escape from their reality.
It’s impossible to read books and time in your sleep due to certain parts of your brain being inactive.
Your brain is more active during the REM stage than throughout the day. While you’re in the REM stage, your blood pressure and heart rate will increase, and your brain will be at its most active. Your brain activity increases in the REM stage because this is when your mind is sorting through information and creating and storing memories.
Dreaming can enhance your creativity as many past and present connections are made in our subconscious during the REM stage of sleep. These connections are the basis of human creativity.
Carl Jung was an influential psychologist well-known for his establishment of analytical psychology. He once wrote this about dreams: “They do not deceive, they do not lie, they do not distort or disguise … They are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand.”
People who remember their dreams also tend to respond quickly when their names are called out in reality. Studies have shown that dreaming may reorganize and initiate information you take in throughout the day, which improves your memory and boosts your performance.
If you are constantly dreaming about someone, it may be that they miss you and think about you quite often. Psychology has also said that if you struggle to fall asleep it could be that someone is dreaming about you.
Being in love causes your body to release more oxytocin during the day which means that the same thing could happen to you as you sleep. The higher doses of oxytocin hormones present can alter your dreams in a positive way as you are feeling emotions that relate to love.
We dream about what we think of the most and if you have a crush, chances are they show up in your dreams quite often.
Psychology says that a flying dream could indicate an innate desire to be creative or break free from everyday life. If you find yourself constantly dreaming about flying, it could mean that you seek to escape from pressures that you may feel from other people or circumstances.
If you are not dreaming at all, it could be a sign that you have a personality disorder. People with Borderline Personality Disorders will generally have more negative dreams than those who do not display any symptoms of personality disorders.
The body’s stress chemistry shuts down during the REM sleeping stage. During this stage, the brain will process emotional experiences that will ease the effect of negative memories.
Sadly, you will never remember the beginning of your dream, no matter how hard you try. Our brains are wired to release certain hormones when we wake up and therefore we can no longer access these parts of our memories.
Many people believe that their dreams carry more weight and meaning than their conscious thoughts while we’re awake. It is believed accross cultures that dreams contain hidden secrets and messages about ourselves and the world.
On average, people dream about six years of their lives.
Dreams represent your subconscious mind through imagery, and they exist from your personal experiences. Some theories propose that dreams help your mind store essential memories and get rid of insignificant memories, and they can also help our mind sort through complicated feelings and thoughts.
The brain can still perceive and monitor its surroundings as you sleep. Sometimes the external perceptions that the brain picks up can be incorporated into your dreams, such as certain sounds and smells.
Recurring negative vivid dreams could be a reflection of your real-life stress. Trauma and stress could also induce frequent vivid dreams. When you are under a lot of pressure, you can experience anxiety dreams which cause a sense of panic during and after your dream.
You’ll discover that dreams inspired many scientific breakthroughs and artistic, musical and linguistic achievements throughout human existence. Here are a few examples of dreams that had an immense impact on the history of humankind:
- Niels Bohr’s dream led him to discover the atomic structure.
- Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” was initiated from a vivid nightmare she had experienced and is now considered the world’s first science fiction novel.
- Albert Einstein discovered his principle of relativity through a vivid dream.
According to psychology, the inability to fall asleep could mean that you’re awake in someone else’s dream.
Psychology revealed that sleeping on your stomach could induce erotic and nightmarish dreams. So if you want to have more pleasant dreams, try sleeping in a different position.
Before you fall asleep, about 90% of your thoughts will be about stuff you would like to happen. You may think about your goals, a crush, or desires, and sometimes these things would appear in your dreams, but of course in the most bizarre ways.
Euneirophrenia is the feeling of wanting to fall asleep to continue pleasant dreams. About 75% of people try to fall asleep just to finish their dreams.
If you trip in your dream and wake up with a twitch, it could be that your brain thinks you’re dying.
Nightmares are more common if you’re sleeping in cold room temperatures.
Dreaming about death could symbolize personal transformation or a desire to free yourself from unwanted bondages.
Snoring is unlikely to occur during the REM sleep phase when your brain is focused on dreaming only.
Common nightmares that many people have include:
- Being chased
- Naked in front of people
- Teeth falling out
- Falling and drowning
- Being cheated on or left by your partner
The subconscious picks up on feelings and thoughts that we repress. So these desires or fantasies will reveal themselves in our dreams.
Dreams help your mind process day-to-day realities, and they can help you process your emotions, gather your thoughts, solve problems and keep track of your memories.
Dreams become more complex as the night progresses, so by the time you wake up you will have dreamt about the most complicated or bizarre things, such as your deepest fears and anxieties.
Some brain injuries can cause some patients to dream. The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced after an injury could induce more vivid and anxiety-ridden dreams.
Dreams about snakes can symbolize toxic persons in your life that need to be removed or handled.
You will always wake up just before you “die” in your dream because our brains do not know what happens after death.
According to experts, if you see an unfamiliar face in your dreams, it’s probably the face of a ghost watching you as you sleep.
Falling dreams could symbolize that something important to you is going in the wrong direction, for example, relationships, goals and finances.