6 Shocking Psychological Facts About Dreams
During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of your sleep, the base of your brain, from a place called the pons, will send up a signal to other areas of your brain and so, you begin your wonderful, torturous or disturbing dream. Psychologists have long theorised about what our dreams mean, why they occur and whether we can use them for our own good. Nowadays more and more psychologists are positive about the possibility to control our dreams and use them to better our minds. Here are 6 surprising facts about your dreams and what you can do with them.
When you are lucid dreaming; you have the ability to be self-aware of dreaming while you’re dreaming. When you’re sleeping, you can wake up still in your dream, noticing an inconsistency or impossibility that occurs. For example, if you wake up in Myanmar or you’re floating, you’re aware there’s something strange going on. A lucid dreamer may even be able to change elements of their dream, with people reporting a feeling of leaving your physical body.
There are many tips and tricks to performing lucid dreaming well and has many reported benefits. Because dreams allegedly reflect deeper, inner problems with our identity and personality, people report feeling more resolved with their inner conflicts. To start, lucid dreamers suggest to should keep a dream journal, recording your dreams and observing what repeatedly pops up.
A survey done in 1993 and follow up study in 2009 displays that the number of people and frequency with which people dream in colour is on an upward sloping trend. Nonetheless, this increase appears to be confined to those in the 20s, 30s and 40s (as initially found in 1993). Results suggested that around 80 percent of under-30 year olds dreamt in colour while only 20 percent of individuals dream in colour by the age of 60. Logically, the researchers suggest that TV might have an effect on the colours that we dream in.
Larry Page’s idea for Google, James Watson’s theory of DNA’s double helix form and Dimitri Mendeleyev’s idea for the periodic table are only three examples of the eureka moment’s these people had in their dreams. Harvard psychologist Deidre Barrett says that we creatively problem solve when we dream and if we choose the right things to think about before sleeping – it might help us land the next big thing.
If you want to do this, the next time you go to bed, think of your problem, whatever it may be, right before you sleep. Have an image of the problem in your head, this will be a strong visual cue for your dream. When you wake up, stay absolutely still and reflect on your dreams. Think about what you have just dreamt even if it doesn’t make sense at first. You’ll soon realise that these images might actually be a metaphor for something deeper. Barrett conducted a weekend-long study where 50% actually dreamt about the problem they visualised and 25% found a solution. If this translates; 1 in 4 nights you’ll solve your problem!
Especially women. A study done in Turkey, displays that night owls are 2-6 percent more likely to have a nightmares. It is speculated that this is due to an irregular sleeping pattern. Waking up between a night’s sleep intermittently throws off your circadian rhythm, leading to more nightmares and higher stress levels than normal when you wake up. This study also relates sleep-related anxiety to evening-type individuals.
On the flip side, if you’re someone that experiences nightmares; you might just be more resilient than your rainbow-dreaming counterparts. Psychologists found that those suffering from depression were more likely to experience dreams that were pleasurable. However, more resilient, mentally stronger individuals’ had dreams with more disturbing content. It’s theorised that subconsciously when we have nightmares, we are facing our innermost emotions and conflicts therefore resulting in more waking peace.
Psychologists conducted studies on people who are deaf and some participants who had paraplegia against individuals who were able-bodied. And it turns out when they dream, they dream of themselves as able-bodied individuals even when they were born with their condition.
Psychologists found no difference between the body movements in dreams’ of those who had paraplegia and those who were deaf. The same applied to those who were born deaf with their hearing and speaking abilities. Here is an excerpt from one of the participants that were born deaf:
“I was supposed to and wanted to sing in the choir. I see a stage on which some singers, male and female, are standing… I am asked if I want to sing with them. ‘Me?’ I ask, ‘I don’t know if I am good enough.’ And already I am standing on the stage with the choir. In the front row, I see my mother, she is smiling at me… It is a nice feeling to be on stage and able to chant.”