Dreams are a part of human life, animals dream too, so if we keep track of their reactions when they sleep. They exist and run independently of our will, sometimes by well-defined patterns – inability to escape or fight back, state of weightlessness derived from moving with tremendous speed – sometimes, chaotic, random, premonition, threatening or euphoric. We explain some of the experiences that follow more or less marking events during the day, while for others it is impossible to identify their source or to associate them with different symbols. Science dream interpretation, whose father is famous neuropsychiatrist Sigmund Freud, provides, in some cases, satisfactory explanations. However, decoding the hidden symbols of dreams is not the subject of this paper, but the features they have, in purely scientific perspective.
10. Blind people dream
People who become blind after birth still see images in their dreams. Those who were born without the gift of sight are deprived of this oneiric dimension, they have dreams equally “alive” like everyone else, limited, but their dreams range runs all the other senses: hearing, smell, taste, touch and emotion. For a seer is hard to imagine all these things in a dream, but the brain’s need for sleep is so powerful that it can engage all situations and possible physical mechanisms to impose a restful and effective sleep system.
9. We forget 90% of what we dream.
Five minutes after a person wakes up, he has already forgotten half of what he dreamed. After ten minutes, 90% of the memory of the dream is gone. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge awoke one morning after a fabulous dream – probably induced by opium – and he wrote in pencil on the paper describing “vision in a dream” in what became later one of the most popular English poems: Kublai Khan. While writing, exactly after the 54th verse, was interrupted by someone. Coleridge returned to complete his poem, but he could not remember the rest of the dream. The poem has never been completed. Similar cases exist. For example, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the story of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde through a dream, and Frankenstein of Mary Shelley was a result of a dream.
8. Everyone dreams
Every human being dreams (except in cases of serious psychological disorders) but men and women dream differently and have different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women dream equally about men and women. Moreover, both men and women experience physical reactions of a sexual nature while dreaming, whether or not their dreams have explicit sexual temptation, almost daily men get erections and the women’s genital area gets stronger blood supply.
7. Dreams prevent psychosis
In a recent study on sleep, it was found that subjects who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but were allowed, however, eight hours of sleep, all of them experienced concentration difficulty, irritability, hallucinations and signs of psychosis after only three days of such treatment. When they were finally allowed to sleep continuous and uninterrupted, with dreams, the subjects lost significant time raising the percentage of the REM sleep state (Rapid Eye Movement). They dreamed more, to help brain restore.
6. We only dream about what we know
Our dreams are often populated by strangers who play certain well defined roles, but, although maybe it’s hard to believe, they are not inventions of our mind – those figures are real faces of real people that we met during life, but you might not recognize them. For example the deadly assassin in the latest nightmare may be the man who put gasoline in the father’s car tank while we were just kids. We’ve all seen hundreds of thousands of faces in our lives, so there is an endless reserve of characters which our brains uses while dreaming.
5. Not everyone dreams in color
It was shown, in some studies, that 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. People also tend to have common themes in dreams, situations related to school or work, chases, cluttered running, sexual experiences, failures, delays, death of a loved one, fallen teeth, flight, failing an exam or car accident. So far, it is unknown if the impact of a dream marked by violence or death has a stronger emotional load for a person that dreams in colors than for someone who dreams in black and white.
4. Dreams are not what they appear to be
When you dream about a certain topic, your dream will not refer just to that. Dreams communicate in symbolic and encoded language. The mind and the unconscious are trying to compare the dream to something similar. So, any symbol the dream would choose is unlikely to be a explicit one. Basically, this is where the “interpretation of dreams” made by Freud occurs and it associates dream scenarios like tooth loss with the death of someone close, swimming in troubled waters, a disease is approaching or the presence of animals with enemies in real life.
3. Addicts who have given up vices have more realistic dreams
People who have been smokers for long and have quit the addiction, it seems that they experience much more vivid dreams than they would have normally. In addition, the Journal of Abnormal Psychology reports: “Among 293 abstinent smokers in a period between one and four weeks, 33% said they had at least one dream about smoking. During most dreams, subjects were caught smoking and felt strong negative emotions, such as panic and guilt. Dreams about smoking were the result of decreasing levels of nicotine and have been experienced by 97% of subjects when they used to smoke.
The occurrence of dreams was related significantly to abstinence. These dreams were classified as being more vivid than usual and were as common as most symptoms of quitting smoking.
2. External stimulus invading our dreams
It’s called dream incorporation and it’s the experience that most of us have, in the most common, when a sound from reality is heard in a dream it’s somehow associated with an element of the dream script. A similar example is the situation when we are thirsty, we are cold or other physiological needs, in reality, our minds incorporate this need into the dream. For example if you are dreaming that you drink a large glass of water, then the thirst returns, you drink again, and the cycle is repeated until you wake up and just drink a glass of water. This concept is illustrated in Salvador Dali’s painting called “Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening”.
1. We are paralyzed during sleep
Whether we believe it or not, our bodies are virtually paralyzed during sleep – most likely to prevent their movement consistent to what we dream. According to some studies, glands secrete a hormone that helps inducing sleep and neurons send signals to the spine, which causes relaxation and, ultimately, temporary paralysis of the body. Also, when snoring, the subject is not dreaming. Toddlers do not dream about themselves until the age of 3 years old. At the same age, the little ones typically have more nightmares than adults, until around the age of 7-8 years old. Also, if we wake up in the middle of a dream is more likely that we remember it better than if we wake up after a full night’s sleep.