Dreaming is one of the most mysterious, eye-opening, bewildering, interesting, entertaining and sometimes disturbing and nightmarish experiences in our lives.
Dreams are the images and stories our mind creates when we are asleep. They can be happy or sad and may sometimes seem confusing while other times they make perfect sense and feel rational. While dreams can occur at any time during sleep, the most vivid dreams happen during REM phases, when your brain is the most active.
Some researchers believe that dreams have no meaning or purpose, others believe that dreams are essential for our emotional, mental and physical health and exist to process emotions and help solve problems.
While you are trying to figure out what your dream from last night means, here are our TOP 10 facts about the exciting dreams you experience every single night.
#1 Memory Limit
Sometimes we remember our dreams but most of the time we can’t recall anything that happened in our dreams. But if we do remember, there is a time limit of how much we can remember. Only within the first five minutes after waking up we can actually remember our dreams and in just 10 short minutes, 90% of our dream is gone. However, if we wake up at the REM phase, we are much more likely to remember our dream.
#2 Men and Women Dream Differently
70% of the characters in a man’s dream are other men while women’s dreams are more gender balanced and contain almost an equal number of male and female characters. Besides the gender difference, men tend to generally have more aggression in their dreams than women do. Interestingly though, both men and women dream equally often about sexual themes.
#3 Blind People Dream, Too
People who are born blind dream as well, but they don’t see any images. This doesn’t mean that their dreams aren’t equally vivid, it simply means that their dreams are full of other senses like smell, sound, touch and emotions, creating the same intensity of dreams as for sighted people. People who became blind after birth do see images in their dreams, since their mind has a visual they can recall.
#4 Some People Only Dream in Black and White
A surprising 12% of sighted people exclusively dream in black and white, the remaining 88% of people dream in full color. Early studies until the 1950s came to the conclusion that the majority of people dreamed in black and white, but the results changed in the 60s and nowadays only 4.4% of people under the age of 25 dream in black and white. Many researchers believe that the switch from black and white to full color is a result of the switch of black and white TV to color media.
#5 Body Paralysis
The REM phase of sleep is characterized by rapid eye movement and typically happens 20 to 25% of total sleep time. During REM sleep, which is when our dreams are most vivid, our body is paralyzed by a brain mechanism that prevents the body to physically move and duplicate the movements experienced in the dream. Studies show that while we experience body paralysis, the amygdala is hyper active and the amygdala is responsible for our ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
#6 Faces You See Are from People You Already Know
When we dream, we only see real faces of real people, the mind is not inventing new faces. Whether you remember it or not, you have seen the faces in your dreams before. Keep in mind, throughout our lives we see thousands of faces, so our mind has an endless supply of characters to choose from that our brain can use during our dreams.
#7 You Can Experience an Orgasm in Your Dream
While many people have sex in their dreams that is just as pleasurable, if not more pleasurable in their dreams than in real life, some people can actually experience an orgasm in their dreams that is just as strong as a real one. The sensations we experience in lucid dreams can be as strong and pleasurable as the sensations we feel in the real world.
#8 You Can Learn While You Dream
If you are struggling to retain new information or are working on perfecting a new skill, a good night’s sleep with vivid dreams can be the answer to your problem. Studies show that your brain is honing learning skills and problem solving skills while you sleep, helping you to learn better and come up with solutions to your problems.
#9 Dreams Recharge Your Creativity
We all know that sleep recharges our body. Similarly, dreams recharge our creativity. Researchers concluded that we boost our creativity skills while dreaming because dreams are actually quite similar to creativity. As our mind solves problems during dreams, it actually mimics the creative process just like in our waking hours. This is also the reason why many artists are stimulated by their dreams and think and act more creatively when they are awake.
#10 Your Mind is More Active While You Dream Than When You Are Awake
While our body is resting when we sleep, our mind is actually more active when we sleep and dream than when we are awake. While we dream, our mind is sorting through information we absorbed during our waking hours, files the information away and is trying to make sense of it all, all while learning and solving problems. While we may not be consciously aware of it, our mind does a lot of work at night, which is why we sometimes wake up with an ‘aha moment’.
Some believe that dreams have no connection to our normal life, others are certain that dreams reflect our underlying emotions, feelings and thoughts and are a reflection of our deepest desires, concerns and fears, especially when we have recurring dreams. Even though science can’t pinpoint the reasons why we dream or know for sure what they mean, a lot of people find meaning and comfort in their dreams.
Joschi & Monika