Our dreams drive us, guide us, fascinate and sometimes frighten us. But most of all, they tend to mystify us. Here are ten fun facts about dreaming — some offer insight, and others just may surprise you!
2. Myth: Not everybody dreams all the time. Everybody dreams several times a night, even babies, even if you don’t remember dreaming.
3. How long do dreams last? Each dream can last approximately 5-20 minutes. Over an average lifetime, a person can spend six years dreaming!
4. Why can’t we remember most of our dreams? We tend to forget 95% of our dreams soon after we wake up because the part of the brain responsible for memory (frontal lobes) was also “sleeping” while we were dreaming.
5. Is it true that you can control your dreams? Yep! You can dream whatever you like. When you are aware that you are dreaming, it’s called lucid dreaming. You can even train yourself to control your dreams during lucid dreaming!
6. Myth: Not everyone is capable of lucid dreaming. In fact, everyone has had at least one lucid dream. (Brogaard, 2012)
7. Dreams help you learn! According to research by the BIDMC, dreams give the brain a boost when it comes to memory consolidation and processing new information. Contrary to the tradition of burning the midnight oil before an exam, important meeting, or interview, it’s more effective to go to sleep earlier the night before.
8. What is up with sleep paralysis?! The body paralyzes itself while dreaming to prevent us from acting out our dreams. Think of sleep walking as a type of sleep paralysis fail. Sometimes, sleep paralysis can carry over up to 10 minutes after you’ve awaken — a terrifying experience for kids and the superstitious.
SUPERSTITION AND SLEEP PARALYSIS: In many cultures, this carry-over effect of sleep paralysis into our waking world has inspired many ghoulish legends of demonic supernatural entities, such as succubi and incubi paralyzing the “sleeper” by sitting on him or her. Spooky!
9. True or false: There are some dreams virtually everyone has. It’s true. Common dreams include being naked, being chased or attacked, being lost or trapped, being haunted or guided by the deceased, falling, and flying.
10. Ever wish you could stay in a good dream? Well, you can! When you wake too soon, just don’t move an inch. Really. Stay perfectly still and you should be able to drift in the dream between asleep and awake for a few more minutes. (Lowenberg)
Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams and Change Your Life by Lauri Loewenberg
The Superhuman Mind: Cases of extraordinary mental ability by Berit Brogaard, DMSci, PhD and Kristian Marlow, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201212/lucid-dreaming-and-self-realization
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) research summary, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422153753.htm
Allan Hobson and the Neuroscience of Dreams by Ryan Hurd, http://dreamstudies.org/2010/01/07/neuroscience-of-dreams/
Uncovering Your Dreams: 12 Universal Themes by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/10/17/uncovering-your-dreams-12-universal-themes/2/
The Succubus Reconsidered by Ryan Hurd, http://dreamstudies.org/2010/06/25/succubus-and-supernatural-assault/)