Our waking hours fill us with challenges and joy, but our sleeping mind gifts us with dreams that make sleep a special event. Our dreams can inspire or frighten us with realistic imagery, while leaving us unable to describe vivid events, once we wake.
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Usually residing in our Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep stage, dreams can sometimes sneak into other sleep stages or confuse us by lingering while we wake. Everyone dreams, with each event lasting for a few seconds or up to 30 minutes.
Once relegated to religious figures and psychics, dream interpretation found a scientific home through Sigmund Freud, who explored dream theories and interpretations during the 1900s.
His ideas were overthrown by Carl Jung, who elevated dreams and said they bore messages the dreamer should take seriously. No matter the frequency of your dreams, their content may be sleep’s most interesting aspect. Take a look at the below 11 interesting dream facts.
1. Before color television, most people reported dreaming in black and white.
2. Dreams often incorporate real-life events that happen around the sleeping dreamer.
3. 10 to 13 percent of dreams may be precognitive, meaning they are predictive.
4. Some people believe they can effect lucid dreaming, controlling many aspects of their dreams.
5. Blind people dream, too. If blind from birth, the dreams feature other senses, like smell and touch. If blinded later in life, the dreams have images.
6. You do not meet strangers in dreams. The only faces we see, in dreams, are those we already know.
7. Dreams use the language of symbols. In other words, dreams are not literal representations of reality.
8. Women and men have different dreams. Men dream about other men 70 percent of the time, while women dream about men and women almost evenly.
9. Want to enhance your dream experience? Rumors hold that vitamin B6 makes dreams more vivid and easier to remember.
10. The Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, inspired the name of a powerful painkiller, Morphine.
11. You are illiterate in dreams. Reading and dreaming use different areas of the brain and those areas do not cooperate.
Common Dream Themes
Even though sleep differs from one person to another, we have some dream themes in common. They hearken back to prehistoric man’s feeling powerless against nature and other humans. Everyone dreams about:
The Chase: Being chased can represent a closed-mind (yours), avoidance and fear. If you are chasing someone or something, it can signify drive or ambition.
Snakes: The reptile represents a hidden threat, the subconscious and temptation, but it can also represent transformation or a callous person.
Cheating: Fear of abandonment, neglect (naturally, you feel neglected when abandoned) and low self-esteem cause these dreams. If the dream shows you as the cheater, you may have compromised your principles or you might crave power and control.
Death: Although frightening, dreaming about death signifies new beginnings or a wake-up call for you to take action. Death can also mean escape or mourning a loved one.
You can exert a little control over your dreams. The biggest hurdle is learning to recognize a dream before it ends. You can influence your own actions, but not those of other characters in your dream. Using one of three, or all three, methods you can train yourself to remain aware and engaged in your dreams.
1. Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming (MILD): Repeat “I’ll know when I’m dreaming” as you fall to sleep every night. This phrase, or the phrase you choose, forms a habit of sleep awareness.
2. The Dream Journal: Every morning, write your dreams in a journal or diary kept next to your bed. Doing so forces you to practice remembering your dreams. People have tried using tape recorders as their sleep journal, but you can speak before you are fully awake, meaning your recording could be a string of incoherent mumbling. Writing wakes you up, completely, to hold the writing utensil!
3. The Reality Check: Throughout your regular days, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” and then try reading a clock or a sign. Look away, and then look back a few times. If the print is blurry or changes when you look back, you are probably dreaming.
Dreams make sleep interesting, as our minds take us through impossible landscapes with fairy tale-like beasts, make us confront our fears or literally give us wings to fly.
If you can remember your dreams, you may understand yourself better. Lucid dreaming needn’t be the only reason to keep a dream journal. Your next dream may inspire novel-worthy fiction. All you need to do is remember that last dream.