Sleep is a welcome refuge, and dreams can either enhance the experience or turn it into a true nightmare. Here are several facts to consider before turning in tonight.
1: The number of dreams a person has depends on the number of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycles they have, as we can only dream during those cycles. On average, a person dreams 1-2 hours every night (or around 6 years of a lifespan), but some nights feature up to a dozen dreams per night.
2: Every person dreams when they sleep, unless they suffer from a REM disorder. Up to 60% of us don’t remember dreaming at all, even though it happens every night.
3: Animals dream just like humans do. Any pet owner can verify that dogs have a very active dream life. They chase and bark like they do when they’re awake.
4: Most people have more “bad” dreams than “good” ones. Anger, fear, and grief are the three most common reactions to a dream.
5: Men dream about other men more often than women dream of men. Men’s dreams are usually more violent or aggressive than women’s dreams, but they both dream about sexual motifs to equal levels.
6: Dreaming in color is incredibly common, but not everyone is so lucky. Around 10-15% of dreamers dream solely in black and white.
7: Sleep paralysis is very real and involves two key afflictions: (1) A temporary inability to speak or move; and (2) Frightening hallucinations that a person or presence is in the room. Those affected show high amygdala activity during an episode, which accounts for the “fight or flight” instinct and feeling of deep terror.
8: Our brains are more active during sleep than waking hours. As a result, many inventions and works of creativity have sprung forth from the harvest of a dream. People who suffer from rare REM disorders experience low levels of creativity.
9: If you want to remember a dream, you’d better write it down soon after waking. After about 5-10 minutes, a dream will almost completely disappear from one’s mind, never to return. The one exception? If someone wakes up during the REM stage.
10: A sleep artist named Lee Hadwin dreams of being an artist. He creates magnificent drawings as he sleeps and doesn’t remember creating them at all. Check out his Facebook page to see the goods.
11: A British teenager named Louisa Ball suffers from Kleine-Levin Syndrome, which turns her into a real-life “sleeping beauty.” She sleeps for up to two weeks at a time. Most patients recover from KLS by age 13, but Louisa suffered until age 15 when a new medication stopped the episodes.
12: Sleepwalking is a rare REM disorder but dangerous to those afflicted. Sufferers have jumped out windows and driven cars as they slept.
13: Blind people can still dream visually if they retain their eyesight past age 5. People who lost their vision early or were born blind lack visuals in their dreams but include other sensory information such as sound, hearing, taste, and smell.
14: Lucid dreams are a type of dream where individuals are aware that they are asleep. Those who dream lucidly can control their dreams and guide their own experiences. Approximately 1/3 of people have experienced lucid dreaming at some point in their lives. Lucid dreaming can be effective in controlling a recurring nightmare.
15: If you ever wonder whether you’re dreaming or not, there’s a quick test to help you figure it out. Try to read something. Most lucid dreamers report not being able to read anything (even a clock) while asleep.
16: The single most common dream in humans is being cheated on by a spouse. Most of the time, this dream doesn’t reflect reality but, instead, the fear of the dreamer. This fact comes as little comfort to those who experience this dream on a regular basis.
17: Dreaming can help people learn, absorb, and process information. Those students who take regular naps are more likely to retain facts when studying for an intense exam.
18: The vast majority of people believe that dreams can predict the future. Around 1/3 of people have experienced such a dream that they associate with an event that occurred in the future, although these phenomena can never be proven.
19: The Native American culture believes in woven webs (made of a loop decorated with feathers and beads) called dreamcatchers. These devices are said to ward off nightmares and evil spirits.
20: An illegal, hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine is used by some to induce a constant state of dreaming. This drug is a synthetic form of the chemical produced by our brain during real dreams.
21: Wakeful dreaming is different from daydreaming and lucid dreaming. It occurs when someone thinks of a recent dream, relaxes, and lets the mind wonder while awake. Wakeful dreaming can be useful to help a person figure out the meaning of a puzzling dream.