Dreams have fascinated and intrigued people ever since the dawn of history. Over the course of time, different civilizations have tried to unravel the mystery of dreams, giving them various meanings and turning dream interpretation into an art form. Millennia have passed, we’ve managed to find answers to millions of complicated questions, but dreams have remained a hard-to-crack secret. Even though scientists are now able to explain many sleep-related phenomena, there’s still no consensus on why we dream.
Of course, theories surrounding dreams and their purpose abound, varying from fairly reasonable to completely bizarre. Until we find out the answer to this age-old question, we’ll have to quench our curiosity with what researchers have managed to find out about dreams to date, and their findings are nothing short of surprising. Here’s what we know so far.
We’re all in this together
Everybody dreams, so if you know of someone who claims that he never ever dreams, you might want to show him this article. Literally everyone and their dog dreams (yes, apparently animals dream as well), but not everyone remembers what they dream. Researchers have found that both adults and infants dream on average two hours per night. But it’s more like watching a series than a feature film since we have several different dreams per night. And if we do the math, the average time a person spends dreaming during a typical lifetime is almost six years. That’s a lot of dreaming for sure.
We forget most of our dreams
Some people are concerned with fighting insomnia or reading mattress reviews at aslreviews.com to improve the quality of their sleep, while others spend their waking hours trying to remember what they’ve dreamed the previous night. To each their own. But as much as we might like to remember our dreams vividly and store them in our memory so we can later dissect them and find their meaning, our treacherous nature gets in the way. We usually forget 90% of what we’ve dreamed of within 10 minutes of waking up. So, by the time you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face, your dreams are mostly gone.
A lot of inventions were inspired by dreams
It’s a shame that we can’t remember more of what we dream, because apparently a lot of great minds have been inspired by the things they’ve seen in their dreams. Humankind would be deprived of many of its innovations if it weren’t for some perfectly timed dreams that certain brilliant people somehow managed to remember. Curious about what inventions we’re talking about? Here are some of the most notable ones: Google, Einstein’s theory of relativity, the story of Frankenstein, the periodic table, the sewing machine and a lot more. Just use the first invention we listed to search for the rest.
Not everyone dreams in color
While some might assume that dreams look the same for everyone, that’s not necessarily true. Studies have shown that for one reason or another, certain individuals dream only in black and white, even if their percentage is much smaller than that of people who dream in color. Research results varied over the years. Before 1960 it was believed that most people dreamed only in black and white, but recent studies show that only 12% of the population dream exclusively in black and white. Scientists have come up with an interesting theory, suggesting this change could be explained by the transition from black-and-white to color TV.
Blind people dream as well
When we said everyone dreams, we really meant everyone, including people who are blind, regardless if they were born with this disability or if they became blind later in life. Those who became blind after birth can see images in their dreams, while the other category experiences dreams a bit differently and don’t see any visual elements. However, their dreams involve their other senses, so they can dream of smells, sounds, touches or emotions.
Men and women dream differently
We say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus to point out the differences between the two genders, but did you know that men and women are also different when it comes to dreaming? Researchers revealed there are major differences regarding dream content for men and women. This one might not come as a surprise, but men tend to dream about weapons more than women, while women dream of clothes more often than men (shocker!). But what may surprise you is the fact that men tend to dream more about other men, while women are less discriminatory and dream about both sexes equally. Scientists still have no explanation for this phenomenon.
Dreams can be controlled
It sounds a lot better than it actually is. We can control dreams, but only in certain situations, more precisely when one experiences a lucid dream. Lucid dreams are those dreams in which the person is actually aware that he or she is dreaming, while still being fully asleep. It’s a weird combination of consciousness and REM sleep and again, it’s still a mystery why it happens. What’s more, lucid dreams are more frequent than one might expect. Almost half of people can remember having a lucid dream at least once in their life, while a smaller demographic experiences lucid dreams on a regular basis.
Some dreams are universal
Our unique circumstances, our cultural backgrounds, the things each of us experience every day and thousands of other variables influence the way we dream. After all, a big part of what we dream stems from the realities that surround us, or so they say. However, after studying people from different cultures and different parts of the world, researchers found out that some dreams are universal. Dreams like being unable to move, trying to scream but not making a sound, falling from a great height or being chased by someone seem to fill the nights of people from all over the world.