Top 10 Facts About Dreams

Facts About Dreams

Dreams: we all do it. Sometimes we don’t remember our dream when we wake up, but in fact we dream every night. Scientists cannot (for the time being) explain why a person dreams while sleeping. However, in the last 25 years, research on human sleep has expanded greatly. 

Specialist doctors analyzed sleep and learned a lot about the cause of sleeping problems, the different phases of sleep and the phenomenon of ‘dreaming’. The brain is known to remain active during sleep and even become very active in the REM sleep phase, which is when most dreams occur. 

A person dreams about six years of his life and you can have four to seven dreams in one night. Yet dreams have not yet fully given up their secrets. Here are 10 surprising facts about dreams.

10. You only dream about what you once saw

dreaming about things you have in your family

You probably can’t dream about something you’ve never seen in your life . You have actually seen the faces of people that appear in your dreams. That may have been a long time ago and you may not be able to actively remember those people, but in your dreams they keep popping up. 

For example, the face of the terrifying killer during your last nightmare may be someone you happened to meet on the train many years ago. Your mind does not “make up” faces. In your dreams, your mind draws on a vast collection of hundreds of thousands of people that you once encountered in your life.

We probably added the word because this is an assumption, but it is obviously impossible to prove it scientifically.

9. Blind people dream too

blind people dream too

The blind dream as much as people who can see. However, a person who was born blind does not see visual images of other people, places or objects in his dreams.

 A person who is blind from birth dreams intensely about other perceptions: smells, sounds, tangibles and emotions. People who became blind during their lives still see visual images in their dreams. These images come from memories of places, objects, people or animals they once saw.

8. You forget most of your dreams

forget your dreams

Usually you cannot remember your dream for a long time when you wake up. Research shows that ten minutes after waking up, you have already forgotten about 90% of your dream. 

So, if during a dream you see the solution of a difficult problem or get a brilliant idea, write down your dream as soon as possible after waking up. One of the greatest English poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, got inspiration for his well-known poem Kubla Khan during a dream

That inspiring dream may have been the result of smoking a large amount of opium, which Coleridge used as a painkiller. Other writers were also inspired by their dreams. Mary Shelley wrote her novel ‘ Frankenstein‘ after an intense dream. Writer Robert Louis Stevenson came up with his characters Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde after a nightmare.


7. Dreams keep you from going into psychosis

no psychosis

Apparently the dream phase in sleep is absolutely necessary. If people cannot dream, they are more likely to go into psychosis. This was shown in a recent sleep study, in which volunteer students were repeatedly awakened at the beginning of their so-called REM sleep or dream sleep.

 In total, the volunteers were allowed to sleep for eight hours. The students became more irritable, had difficulty concentrating during the day and showed signs of hallucinations and psychosis after only three days. 

When the students were no longer awakened and were therefore allowed to ‘enjoy’ their dream sleep to the fullest, it seemed as if their brains wanted to make up for the lost dream sleep. In the days following their disturbed sleep, their dream sleep phase lasted significantly longer.

6. Dreams in black and white and in themes

black and white dreams

Strange as it may sound, some people only dream in black and white. Research shows that about 12% of the population does not see colors during a dream. However, there is no association with visual impairment. A British study showed that it is mainly older people who dream in black and white. 

One possible explanation is the fact that the older generation has still lived through the era of black-and-white TV and black-and-white photography. Apparently the same themes regularly occur in your dreams. 

Common themes include events at school, passing a bad exam, being chased, being late, sexual experiences, and car accidents. In a dream, negative than positive emotions are more often discussed. The emotion most experienced during a dream is fear.


5. Every person dreams during sleep

everyone dreams

Although you often don’t remember when you wake up, you dream every night. Every person dreams, except in the case of a serious psychological disorder. Men dream about other men in 67% of the cases , while in women men and women appear in dreams just as often. 

In both women and men, sexual reactions occur during dreaming (erections in men and increased vaginal blood flow in women), even in dreams that have nothing to do with sex at all. Animals also dream during their sleep. If your dog makes movements with his paws while he sleeps, he is most likely dreaming.

4. Dreams speak a symbolic language

dreams are symbolic

If you dream about a certain subject, in reality the dream is usually not about that subject. Dreams are symbolic. So a dream about a terrifying chase or a beautiful sunset on a paradise beach is not about chases or sunsets. Your subconscious gives it a different meaning. However, the exact meaning of a dream remains a mystery to science.


3. Whoever quits smoking experiences more vivid dreams

dreams about smoking

Inveterate smokers who suddenly stop smoking experience dreams that are more vivid and realistic than in other people. In a study that followed 243 people who had permanently given up cigarettes, 33% experienced dreams related to smoking. 

Most of the subjects in this study had never dreamed about cigarettes before. Vivid dreams about smoking were found to occur as frequently as other known withdrawal symptoms in ex-smokers.

2. External stimuli penetrate your dream

External stimuli

Most people have experienced this interesting phenomenon: external stimuli, for example the ringing of your alarm clock, which are integrated into your dream. For example, in your dream you experience the sound of your alarm clock as a school bell that signals the end of a lesson. 

Also the external feeling of cold, heat and noise is often integrated in your dreams. For example, if you are thirsty before falling asleep, you dream about a tasty drink that quenches your thirst. When you are very warm in your bed, you may dream that you are walking in a blazing hot desert under a scorching sun.


1. Paralysis while you sleep

sleep paralysis

Most dreams occur during what’s called REM sleep (REM means “Rapid Eye Movement”), a stage of sleep in which your eyes make rapid movements and your brain is almost as active as when you’re awake. The REM phase takes up about 20% to 25% of the sleep period in adults. 

Researchers discovered that a kind of paralysis of your muscles occurs during the REM phase. In a curious way, your body prevents you from physically doing what you dream about while you sleep. 

So when you dream about killing your meddling mother-in-law in a bloody way, luckily you are unable to actually do it. In individuals who suffer from REM sleep disorder, the muscles do not paralyze. These individuals sometimes express their dreams in a violent, almost violent way.


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