Ready to hear some amazing dream facts?
Raise your hand if you have found your nose stuck between books trying to understand Freud’s theories or various other interpretations to try to decipher some wild dream. Well, no shame there!
Dreams are intriguing realms of our brains. These manifestations are sometime inspired by our imagination and often by our lived experiences. In any case, they have continued to interest scientists, doctors, psychologists and laity for decades now.
Whether you know, what your dreams exactly mean or not, knowing some lesser-known facts about them is sure to satiate some of your curiosity:
1. Do I know you?
You can never meet ‘new’ people in your dreams. When you see a person in your dream, regardless of whether you recognise them or not, they are cannot be a figment of your imagination.
This means that our brain is incapable of conjuring up faces on its own. The faces that you see in your dreams are those that your brain has registered, consciously or sub-consciously, at some point.
2. Lucid Dreaming
An interesting manifestation of dreaming is lucid dreaming. As the name suggests, a person is aware that they are dreaming in such a state. They are able to interact with and control their surroundings in contrast to passive dreaming, where they are mere observers.
This psychological phenomenon has amused scientists for a long time who have developed certain techniques to train the mind to lucid dream.
3. I Knew It!
People often report that they had a premonition about a future event in a dream and have attached several superstitions to this belief. Scientists call this precognitive dreaming.
Credulity aside, this can be explained simply by the fact that a large number of events happen every day and for some dream of yours to corroborate with a recent event is not improbable. The most quoted example of precognitive dreaming is of Abraham Lincoln having dreamt of his own assassination!
4. The Science Of It
Scientist have been enchanted with how varied our dreams can be in terms of imagery and brain function. This has led to the development of the specialized science of Oneirology, which insists on understanding how our brain functions when we are dreaming.
The results of such research can lead to a better understanding of how dreams help in memory building and also give us a deeper insight into certain mental disorders.
Yes, there is a fancy word for sleepwalking. It literally breaks down as- ‘somn’ from Latin Somnus, meaning sleep and ‘amble’, the Latin word for ‘to walk’. It is an extreme form of sleep disorder where people become capable of walking around, while still asleep. Not just that, people are known to have performed activities during sleepwalking, which they have neither skill for nor recollection of when they wake up!
A rather interesting example of such somnambulism is from London, where a 15-year girl climbed a 130-foot construction crane, all while sleepwalking!
6. Dreaming Blind
The imagery in our dreams in based on what we see every day in real life. But due to their lack of the sense of sight, blind people experience reality and hence dreaming, differently from those who can see.
Congenitally blind people have heightened auditory, olfactory and tactile senses when they are dreaming. They also report of more nightmares, which scientists have linked to the difficulties they face in getting by in real life.
7. Game On!
Dr. Jayne Gackenbach of the MacEwan University led an extensive research programme to conclude that video game players tend to exercise more control over their dreams. This also makes gamers excellent candidates for lucid dreaming as they are attuned to responding to virtual reality.
Another conclusion she drew from a 2008 study was that gamers cope better with nightmares in comparison to non-gamers. This is because they are used to problem-solving and fighting back when faced with a scary or sticky situation, as they do when playing a game.
You now have the perfect excuse for the next time your parents ask you to turn off that Xbox!
8. Boost Creativity
Researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest that dreaming is an essential process to boost creativity and learning. Through dreams, the brain processes newly acquired information and integrates it.
This is one of the reasons why people with serious REM disorders, which render them incapable of dreaming, face serious creative retardation. So, listen to your mother the next time she asks you to have a good night’s sleep before an exam.
9. So Many Dreams, So Little Time
In the course of their lifetime, an average person can have as many as 100,000 dreams. You can have as many as seven different dreams on a single night.
This number is quite large considering that we can dream for only the duration of the REM cycle of our sleep which tends to last not more than 2 hours.
10. Oh Baby!
Women with children are more prone to nightmares than pregnant women or women who have no children. Understandably, these nightmares pertain to bad things that can happen to their children.