Dreaming is one of the most mysterious and exciting experiences in our lives, so it is only natural that we should know as much as we can about the psychology of our dreams. Here are 15 interesting facts about dreams you may not have known.
We all dream every night
Our brains are active throughout the night. But after we wake up, we often don't remember much about our dreams. People over the age of 10 generally have at least four to six dreams every night, but forget 95 to 99 percent of them. You’re more likely to remember your dreams on weekends or days when you sleep in, because each episode of REM sleep is longer than the last.
We dream most vividly during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep
Some of our sleep has vivid, structured thoughts - or dreams. These occur during a stage of sleep that is called REM sleep. REM sleep occurs in short episodes across each night each about 90 minutes apart. Our longer dreams are in the morning hours.
We are specially wired not to act out our dreams
During REM sleep many of our muscles relax completely and this prevents us acting out our dreams. If this system doesn’t work properly we may try to act out our dreams, especially if the dreams involve strong emotions.
Strange dreams are normal
When we are awake the front part of our brain controls how we make sense of the world. This shuts down during dreaming. Because of this, the dreaming brain puts together ideas that normally do not go together.
Most dreams relate to recent awake experiences
Dreams are often linked to real life events from the past. Usually these are events or thoughts from one to two days before the dream.
We dream in pictures
About two thirds of dreams are mainly visual, with fewer that involve sounds, movement, taste or smell. Colour is only in about a third of all dreams. It has been said that when we are awake we think in ideas, but when asleep we think in pictures.
We can learn to control our dreams
Many people have bad dreams or nightmares. These can happen over and over again. But people can change the events in these dreams to be less frightening. First, write down memories of the scary dream. After this think about how it might end differently.
Scientists disagree about the meaning of dreams
Some people say our dreams mean nothing. They say we have them only because parts of our brain are stimulated when we sleep. Other people say dreams have value. They say it is a kind of therapy for when we're feeling down. Having and remembering vivid dreams about stressful things in our lives may help deal with stress. Many people think that dreams contain messages, but the evidence for this is weak.
Our day informs our dreams
Most of our dreams are linked to thoughts or events from the previous day or two.
Faces are familiar
You likely only dream about faces you’ve already seen in person or on TV, according to Stanford University.
Low stress leads to happy dreams
You’re more likely to have pleasant dreams if you’re experiencing low stress and feel satisfied in your real life. Confusion, disgust, sadness, and guilt are more often the driving force behind nightmares than fear, according to research.
We tend to dwell on the negative
Negative dreams are more common than positive ones. The most common emotion experienced in dreams are anxiety, anger, sadness and fear. Negative emotions in general are much more common than positive ones.
Men and women dream differently
Researchers have found some differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams. In several studies, men reported dreaming about weapons significantly more often than women did, while women dreamed about references to clothing more often than men.
Another study showed that men's dreams tend to have more aggressive content and physical activity, while women's dreams contain more rejection and exclusion, as well as more conversation than physical activity. Women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters. When it comes to the characters that typically appear in dreams, men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.
Sex dreams are not that common, but they do exist
Approximately 4 percent of dreams are about sex, according to research. Men aren’t the only ones who have wet dreams. Women can release vaginal secretions from arousal and even orgasm when having a sexual dream. You’re more likely to dream about sex if you sleep facedown. Men tend to dream of sex with multiple partners two times more than women, while women are twice as likely to have sex dreams about public figures compared to men.
'Morning Wood' has nothing to do with sexy dreams or stimulation
The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get 3 to 5 erections every night, each lasting up to 30 minutes.