Throughout history, both researchers and laymen have been examining dreams trying to find their meaning. Still, while there are several theories, they haven’t managed to explain why our minds create these elusive stories and images while we sleep. There are so many questions that are yet to be answered. However, this article will give you a quick overview of what scientists and psychologists have found out so far.
The Most Fantastic Dreams Facts and Stats
- We have 4–6 dreams every night.
- We forget up to 95% of our dreams shortly after waking up.
- A typical dream lasts 5 to 20 minutes.
- Most people dream in pastel colors.
- Blind people also dream.
- During a lucid dream, there’s increased activity in the parts of the brain that are typically inactive while we sleep.
- We are paralyzed during REM sleep.
The World of Dreams
1. The first dream dictionary originates from Ancient Egypt.
It dates back to 4,000 BCE. Apparently, people have been interested in interpreting their dreams for thousands of years. After all, most of us have wondered, What do dreams mean? Nevertheless, experts claim that there are no universal symbols; each dream reflects personal feelings or problems.
2. We forget up to 95% of all our dreams shortly after waking up.
That’s why some people think they don’t dream. However, it’s believed that we all dream every night. Only people with personality disorders may not dream.
3. Blind people also dream.
According to a study from 2017, even people who are blind since birth can have visual dreams.
(SPIE Digital Library)
4. It’s likely that animals dream, too.
One of the more interesting facts about dreams is that experiments have suggested that animals probably also dream. In one study, scientists found out that a rat’s brain activity while it was awake was very similar to that in REM sleep. Although we can’t be absolutely certain that their dreams look like ours, it’s very likely that they do dream.
5. We have 4–6 dreams every night.
Although we can dream during any sleep stage, the most vivid dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Since a new sleep cycle begins every 90–120 minutes, the REM phase occurs four to six times per night.
6. A typical dream lasts 5 to 20 minutes.
According to researchers, we dream for about two hours every night. During that time, we normally have a few dreams of different durations, from 5 to 20 minutes. A fascinating fact is that we on average spend about six years dreaming during our lifetime.
7. During a lucid dream, parts of the brain that are typically inactive during sleep show increased activity.
A lucid or conscious dream is the one in which you are aware of the fact that you’re dreaming. One of the well-known lucid dreams facts is that lucid dreamers can change the direction of their dreams. When you have this type of dream, it seems that your brain is on the borderline between REM sleep and being awake. It’s interesting that some people use different techniques in order to become lucid dreamers so that they can control their dreams.
8. We are paralyzed during REM sleep.
While we dream, motor neurons aren’t stimulated, so we can’t move our muscles. This state is called REM atonia. However, people with a REM-sleep behavior disorder (RBD) are able to move during REM sleep and can act out their dreams. Although this may seem like one of the funny facts about dreams, it’s a serious state that can result in injuries.
9. 1%–15% of people sleepwalk.
This behavior disorder is characterized by walking or moving while still fast asleep. It generally occurs in the deep sleep stage. Besides walking, sleepwalkers commonly perform other complex activities as well. For example, they can get dressed, prepare food, or drive a car. Some of them can even become violent. One of the common myths about dreams and sleeping is that you shouldn’t wake up a sleepwalker. In most cases, this isn’t true. For the sake of everyone’s safety, sometimes it’s even desirable to wake them up instead of letting them wander around. Also, sleepwalking can occur as a consequence of other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
(National Sleep Foundation)
10. Most people dream in pastel colors.
When researchers woke up people participating in a study and asked them to pick colors from their dreams, most of them chose the pastel ones. Although a majority of people dream in color, some dreamers, about 12%, claim that they only dream in black and white.
Dreams and Emotions
11. Dreams statistics reveal that emotions in dreams are mostly negative.
By analyzing over 50,000 dream accounts, researchers found out that people experience a wide range of emotions in their dreams. However, negative emotions, like anxiety, are more common than the positive ones.
12. About 51% of respondents believe that we express inner fears and anxieties in our dreams.
Although scientists haven’t agreed on the purpose of dreaming, most Americans participating in the survey had a ready answer to the question, Why do we dream?
13. Visual dreams are the most common type of dreams.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychology, people rarely use their senses of smell and taste in their dreams. It’s also interesting that dreams are the most vivid after 4 a.m.
(American Psychological Association)
14. Dream content differs among genders.
In one study, participants were asked to keep dream diaries and to record as many details as they remember from their dreams. The findings related to the psychology of dreams revealed that men dream more about weapons than women, while women had more references to clothes in their dreams than men.
(American Psychological Association)
15. Men dream about other men more often than they do about women.
The ratio of male to female characters in men’s dreams is 70 to 30. On the other hand, women dream equally about both men and women.
16. We can only dream about people we’ve seen before.
Yet another of the cool facts about dreams—all the faces we see in our dreams are from our real life. Whether we’ve seen them on the street or we actually know them, characters from our dreams are real people.
17. There are some common themes that most people have dreamed of.
They include falling off a cliff, being chased, or appearing in public naked. Experts say that these kinds of dreams are probably brought on by stress or anxiety.
18. Babies and toddlers don’t have dreams about themselves.
You might think that this is one of the weird facts about dreams, but there’s a simple explanation. Since kids are not self-aware, they don’t dream of themselves until around the age of 4.
(Lucid Dream Society)
19. We tend to incorporate external stimuli into our dreams.
When our senses receive external stimuli while we are asleep, our mind starts to interpret them, and sometimes they become part of our dreams. For example, if a phone starts ringing, we may have a dream of being in an office. However, if the stimuli are too intense, they will likely wake us up.
(Lucid Dream Society)
20. Between 50% and 85% of adults have nightmares occasionally.
However, nightmares are just one of the types of dreams we can have and shouldn’t be confused with nightmare disorder, which affects only 2%–8% of people. They have disturbing dreams that don’t let them have a good night’s sleep. Nightmares are particularly common in children aged 3–6 years, and they usually become less frequent with age. For example, Tesla suffered from nightmares in his childhood.
21. Physical aggression is the most common theme in nightmares.
Canadian researchers have made a comparison between nightmares and bad dreams. According to their dream statistics, the predominant theme of bad dreams was interpersonal conflict. Another difference is that nightmares provoked more intense emotions and were more bizarre.
(The National Center for Biotechnology Information)
22. 60%–75% of adults have recurring dreams.
Interestingly, women have recurring dreams more often than men. Some of the themes that commonly repeat in our dreams are being late, failing an exam, being attacked, and losing control of a car. Experts studying the psychological facts about dreams generally believe that recurrent dreams occur when a person has to deal with an unresolved conflict or a stressful situation in their life.
(Lucid Dream Society)
23. About 53% of Americans dream about falling over and over again.
This is the most common theme of recurring dreams according to a survey by AmeriSleep. It’s followed by being chased and being back in school.
Side Effects of Dreaming
24. Some of the greatest inventions originated in dreams.
This is maybe one of the most mind-blowing facts about dreams. The idea of Google came to Larry Page in one of his dreams. Also, Dimitri Mendeleyev created a periodic table in his dream. This proves that our brains are active even when we’re fast asleep, and they continue working on a problem we’ve been thinking about while awake.
25. Keeping a dream diary boosts creativity.
A study published in the Journal of Creative Behavior showed that people who can recall their dreams are better at creative thinking. So if you need a boost of creativity, try remembering all the details of your latest interesting dreams.
(Wiley Online Library)
26. Men can have up to 20 erections per sexual dream.
Sexual dreams are very common, and these ones even have a scientific name: nocturnal penile tumescence.
27. 18%–63% of people claim that they’ve had a precognitive dream.
In addition, between 63% and 98% of people believe that it’s possible to have a dream that comes true in real life. Scientists explain that precognitive dreams are actually a coincidence or the result of faulty memory. There’s also another way to explain precognitive dreams with scientific facts. It’s possible that people unconsciously tie together what they know and thus seemingly predict the future in their dreams.
Everybody dreams. Although we forget most of our dreams, our minds are kept busy throughout the night while our bodies rest. Some believe that we dream to consolidate our memories; others claim that dreams give us an opportunity to sort out our emotions. However, the role of these nighttime hallucinations is yet to be fully explained. Here, we’ve compiled as many interesting dreams facts as possible to give you better insight into the topic. Anyway, no matter if you remember your dreams or not, keep in mind that dreaming is part of a normal sleep process and that you need it to fully recharge. Sweet dreams!