We generally spend about a third of our lives dreaming and sleeping. While this theory is backed up by strong scientific studies, there are a few unexplored facts and findings about dreams that baffle us still.
We may know why we dream, but we are yet to fully decipher the imagery and sensory experiences within our nighttime visions and how they reflect onto our real lives.
Listed below we can, however, learn a few interesting facts about dreams and their symbolic meaning as a normal part of our sleep.
1. The first dream dictionary dates back to Ancient Egypt
Precisely back to 4,000 BCE, proving to us that mankind has always displayed a fascination and dedicated interest toward dreams, seeking to discover their true meaning with endless curiosity.
Experts today claim that within this dictionary there are no universal symbols and that each dream has its own personal story and format, reflecting the dreamer’s own feelings and real-life problems.
2. A typical dream lasts between 5 to 20 minutes
According to scientists and researchers, the majority of us dream for approximately 2 hours every night. Although the dream frequency and duration vary from individual to individual, on average we experience dreams between 5 to 20 minutes long.
This means that in total we end up covering 6 full years of our lives with vibrant and vivid nighttime visions, most of which we forget by the time we wake up.
3. Some of our greatest technologies and inventions came from dreams
One of the most mind-bending facts about dreams is that they can inspire us to create improvements for our real lives.
A popular invention created after such a dream is the period table, designed by Dimitri Mendeleyev after seeing it in a dream. Google was also created by Larry Page as a result of a powerful dream.
This further proves that our brains remain active, even when we are asleep and dreaming.
4. Keeping a dream diary may increase creativity
The Journal of Creative Behavior released a study that showcased the statistics about people who kept a diary of all dreams they could remember and those who did not.
Those who kept a dream diary reportedly felt better at creative thinking than those who didn’t.
5. Animals also experience dreams
Mankind is not the only species to experience dreams. Many scientists believe that animals are also capable of dreaming through the close observation of their brain activity during REM sleep phase.
These studies showed that there is indeed a heightened activity in the brains of animals during sleep and, after all, who can say they’ve never seen a dog or a cat “chasing” after something while asleep.
6. Some people experience Déjà vu in dreams
Several surveys conducted around the world have shown that on average between 18% to 38% of people experienced a form of precognitive dream in their lifetime. Moreover, 70% claimed that they regularly sensed a déjà vu happening in their dreams, out of which 63% to 98% believe these dreams to be actually true.
7. Physical sensations feel real in our dreams
One study shows that 39% of 28 non-ventilated burn victims who were interviewed for 5 consecutive mornings during their first week of hospitalization reported feeling pain in their dreams.
The pain level felt in the dream is linked to several factors such as reduced sleep, increased nightmares, higher intake of anxiolytic medication as well as higher scores on the Impact of Event Scale.
Although the majority did not report any pain in their dreams, those who did have also experienced increased discomfort during their therapeutic procedures.
8. Depression is also experienced in dreams
Researchers compared the dream content of people kept in psychiatric facilities after attempting to take their own lives. The dream contents of these patients were related to depression, anxiety or angst.
This further proved that those with higher contents of negative emotions and violence in their dreams were more prone to committing violence toward others or themselves in the real world.
9. We are really bad at remembering our dreams
Although each one of us is capable of experiencing between 3 to 6 dreams per night, around 95% of those dreams are forgotten by the time we wake up.
This is a result of our brain freeing up data space so that we can develop and improve our long-term memory.
A research conducted by an assistant at Carnegie Mellon University showed that those who believed in the dreams they did remember, were more likely to extract meaningful insight and apply it into their lives.
10. Parts of our brains shut down during dreams
Although we can still learn and improve our problem solving while we sleet, certain bizarre dream creatures and occurrences are the result of our brain being partially shut down as we sleep.
When we are awake, the frontal part of our brain controls our senses and perception of the world around us, however during dreams, it is completely dormant.
As a result of this, most of our dreams end up feeling and looking unusual and, in some cases, it may serve as exercise for our problem-solving skills and learning.
11. Some people dream only in black and white
It is known that people who have become blind but were born with normal eyesight can indeed experience imagery and visual experiences in their dreams. One interesting fact, however, is that whether you are blind or not, you may be one of the few people experiencing dreams solely in black and white.
This phenomenon has been studies by the US National Library of Medicine, according to whom 12% of people dream in black and white only.
Age plays an important role in this study, as younger people almost never reported dreaming in black and white while people 55 and older reported being able to dream in color only about 75% of the time.
12. We can learn to control our dreams
Lucid dreams, as known by many are in fact the percentage of dreams in which we are in control of anything that is happening, being fully aware that we are in fact asleep.
Although these dreams or nightmares can happen with or without our intention, we always have the power to change their outcome, contents and intensity.
13. The true meaning of our dreams
Most people don’t pay attention to their dreams or don’t find any exponential meaning in them whatsoever. This is also a normal response to dreams.
Some scientists, however, allegedly claimed that the real meaning of our dreams is to help exercise our brains and help provide a kind of therapy while we are asleep.
The emotions we experience in our dreams is mostly related to the emotions we experience in our real lives and may influence the meaning of things taking place in our nighttime visions.
Whether dreams do in fact have a deeper meaning or are purely brain simulated entertainment is subjective to each person’s own individual experiences.
All in all, while most of us dream every single night, up to 60% of people cannot remember their dreams at all and therefore do not believe in their actual meaning.
Out of 3-6 dreams lasting up to 2 hours, as much as 95% is lost after we wake up. We can choose to keep a dream diary handy to exercise our creativity and remember them better.
Certain areas of our brains shut down during REM sleep and may not project the characters and surroundings in a realistic way to us.
Dreams are needed to make space for valuable information and to help us improve our long-term memory.
We are not the only species capable of dreaming, yet we are the only ones that can dig deeper and find out the secret meanings behind them.