Before entering into our list of weird facts about dreams, we need to define– what is a dream?
One of the best known quotations about dreams is from the pen of William Shakespeare, and is contained in the famous “To Be, Or Not To Be” soliloquy by Hamlet:
To die, to sleep To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, For in this sleep of death what dreams may come..
But, for a more down to earth definition, we have to turn to the scientific explanation. While not quite as poetic as the Bard, most of us can understand these words that define dreams. Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation and a subject of philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history. One of our weird facts about dreams contends that all mammals dream, but whether this is true of other animals, such as birds or reptiles, is uncertain.
Dreams can be fascinating, terrifying, exciting, or just plain weird. We set our Life Daily researchers the task of identifying the ten weirdest facts about dreams, and this is what they came up with:
1. Everybody dreams
We all dream, men, women, even babies – and even those of us who claim we don’t! In fact, people usually have several dreams each night, each one lasting for between 5 to 20 minutes. During a lifetime, people spend an around six years dreaming!
2. You forget most of your dreams
Dream researcher J. Allan Hobson, calculates as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. Why are dreams so difficult to remember? Maybe because the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place.
3. Animals Probably Dream
Have you ever watched a sleeping dog wag its tail or move its legs while asleep? While it’s hard to say for sure whether the animal is truly dreaming, researchers believe that it is likely that animals do indeed dream. Animals go through sleep stages that include cycles of REM and NREM sleep.
4. Men and Women Dream Differently
There are a number of differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams. Men report more instances of dreaming about aggression than women do. Dream researcher William Domhoff says women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters. Men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.
5. Not All Dreams Are In Color
While approximately 80 percent of all dreams are in color, a small percentage of people claim to only dream in black and white. Where dreamers have been awakened and asked to select colors from a chart that match those in their dreams, they most frequently choose soft pastel colors.
6. You Can Control Your Dreams
A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming even though you are still asleep. During this type of dream, you can often “direct” or control the content of the dream. Approximately half of all people can remember experiencing at least one instance of lucid dreaming, and some individuals are able to have lucid dreams quite frequently.
7. Negative Emotions Are More Common in Dreams
Researcher Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream accounts from college students. The results were made public during the 1990s by Hall’s student William Domhoff. It was revealed that many emotions are experienced during dreams including joy, happiness and fear. The most common emotion was anxiety, and negative emotions in general were much more common than positive ones.
8. Blind people dream
While people who lost their eyesight prior to age five usually do not have visual dreams in adulthood, they still dream. Despite the lack of visual stimulus, the dreams of the blind are just as complex and vivid as those of the sighted. Instead of visual sensations, blind individuals’ dreams typically include information from the other senses such as sound, touch, taste, hearing and smell.
9. You are paralyzed during your dreams!
This is a REALLY weird fact! REM sleep, the stage of sleep during which dreaming occurs, is characterized by paralysis of the voluntary muscles. The phenomenon is known as REM atonia and prevents you from acting out your dreams while you’re asleep. Because motor neurons are not stimulated, your body cannot move. In some cases, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as ten minutes, a condition known as sleep paralysis. Have you ever woken up from a terrifying dream only to find yourself unable to move? While the experience can be frightening, experts advise that it is perfectly normal and should last only a few minutes before normal muscle control returns.
10. Most dreams are universal
Dreams are often heavily influenced by our personal experiences. However, researchers have found that certain themes are very common across different cultures. For example, people from all over the world frequently dream about being chased, being attacked or falling. Other common dream experiences include school events, feeling frozen and unable to move, arriving late, flying and being naked in public.
Even though some of our facts about dreams are weird, you should be comforted by the knowledge that you are not alone in your dream experiences.
You are welcome to contribute your own observations about dreams and dreaming by using the comments feed below.