Dreams are stories that happen while we sleep. They can last for different lengths of time. They can be clear and vivid or they can be fantasy-like. Some dreams can be scary and dark. Some feel like we are living on Jupiter and some are normal and rational. Since people have been dreaming since the beginning of time, there have been many studies on why we dream, how we dream, what our dreams mean, and how our dreams affect us when we’re awake.
While this topic is complex and still has a lot of question marks, it is so interesting! Let’s learn a little more. Let’s talk about 10 things to know about the psychology of dreams.
Dreams became a psychological study in 1899.
Dreams first started gaining acknowledgement among the ancient Egyptians. They believed that dreams were gods and prophecies communicating with us about our futures. However, dreams did not become a psychological study until 1899 when Sigmund Freud published a book on the topic. The Interpretation of Dreams was filled with Freud’s theories on the unconscious mind. The main theory in the book was that our dreams are psychologically connected to us. They are more than a story in our brains. They point to significant elements in our lives.
Everybody dreams even if we don’t remember.
While most of us only remember a small portion of our dreams, we all dream! It’s thought that 95% of our dreams are forgotten. So even for the people that claim that they “never dream”, it’s happening! We can dream for around two hours a night. This usually entails several different dreams. Dreams can last from five to 20 minutes.
The reason why we don’t remember most of our dreams once we start waking up is actually pretty simple. Our frontal lobes are the parts of the brain that create and retain memories. When we are sleeping, our frontal lobes are not active. This means that those dreams aren’t fully processed and remembered. They can just drift away!
Dreams can be deeply connected to our lives.
Similar to Freud’s theories, dreams can definitely be connected to our lives. Dreams have the ability to provide insight into the lives we are living. While this can of course be debated, it is another way to connect our dreams to our inner psychology. Many scientists, philosophers and therapists believe that our dreams tell us what we need to know and how we really feel about things in our lives. It is thought that dreams can show us what we need to work on, what we need to express, and what paths we should take. Maybe ignoring our dreams is like ignoring a news report on ourselves!
Nightmares stay with us even after we open our eyes.
Negative dreams are called nightmares. While nightmares typically affect children, adults absolutely suffer from them as well. These bad dreams tend to cause a strong emotional response in our brains. This response can lead to many different emotions, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, etc. While nightmares are not typically life threatening if you are in good physical health, this emotional responses can absolutely take a toll on your psychological state.
Nightmares can also occur because the brain is already stressed out. If someone is under stress, suffering from anxiety, sleeping irregularly, taking medications, or diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as PTSD, nightmares may occur.
Lucid dreaming is the practice of controlling dreams.
Lucid dreaming is a state of dreaming. Usually when we are sleeping, we are unaware of our thoughts. We are not in control of our brains. However, lucid dreaming may help us do the complete opposite. It is thought that while practicing lucid dreaming, a person can be aware that they are asleep and be in control of what they experience. It can be a creative activity when done properly. For some people, it is even a form of psychological entertainment.
Men and women experience dreams differently.
Women’s brains tend to be more sensitive and more complex than men’s. They are psychologically, biologically, and emotionally different. This seems to carry over into the psychology of dreams. Women and men have very different dreams. According to psychological dream studies, not only do women dream more, it’s also easier for them to remember them the following day. Their dreams are usually longer, too!
Women are more likely to dream about people they know personally. These dreams may take place in familiar and comfortable places. Men are more likely to dream about total strangers. Their dreams may be in unfamiliar places, such as the outdoors. The dreams may also be far less comfortable and may include aggressive behaviors because of that.
Blind people have visual dreams too!
While it wouldn’t make sense for people who were born blind to see in their dreams, some people lose their eyesight later in life. The imagery of a blind person’s dreams is dependent on whether they ever had vision and when they lost it. Blind people don’t tend to dream very different than anyone else’s common, nightly dreams. However, a study conducted by DreamSearch in 1999 claimed that there are some significant differences in the dreams that we found pretty interesting. After analyzing the dreams of 15 blind adults, it was found that blind people have fewer dreams about success and failure, they don’t tend to dream about aggressive actions, many dreamt about animals (often their service animals), and many claimed to dream about food and eating. They also seemed to dream about their difficulties in daily life that many people don’t struggle with. Interesting, right?!
We don’t all dream in color.
Did you know that we don’t all dream in color? We live in a world that has us constantly looking at billboards, our phone screens, our laptops and our television screens. Because of this, it makes sense to assume that when we close our eyes, our dreams are in color as well. However, there are some people that claim they dream in black and white. This may mean that the person only watched black and white television when they were younger. Or perhaps they are color blind. There is a very small percentage of people that claim to dream this way…but how wild!
We all dream similarly.
Each person’s brain is different. Everyone sees things differently. However, when it comes to dreams, most of them are universal. Regardless of the personal experiences that we go through when our eyes are closed, the overall experiences are not very different. We may all come from different cultures and different lifestyles but we tend to all care about the same core things. We also tend have the same basic fears. This could mean dreaming about our friends and family. It could also mean dreaming about being chased or attacked.