As soon as our head hit the pillow, its lights out and many of us wake up not remembering a single thing that occurred, in the 7 or so hours, during that time. However the cells firing in your brain are very much awake, enough so to produce vivid and sometimes downright haunting dreams that take place during the rapid-eye-movement stage of our sleep.
Why do some people have nightmares about man-eating butterflies (like me) while others spend their nights in bliss? Dreams are still a very mysterious phenomena, but as technology advances, scientists are slowly finding some of the answers. Here we have collected a list of dream facts and information on what we know goes on in dreamland, such as:
Dreams can inspire greatness
Some of the greatest inventions of our time were given birth in a dream state. Newton, Graham Bell and famous poets are all known to got their inspiration from a dream. Einstein was also known to use “power napping” to his advantage. Power napping is basically a controlled micro nap designed to last no longer than a second. To accomplish this micro nap, Einstein recommended sitting in a chair with a book clamped in his left hand. The moment Einstein would enter his slumber, the book would fall on the ground and awaken him. Einstein believed this technique revived his whole physical and physic being.
You can control your dreams
If you’re interested in taking control of your dreams so you can fly a pink elephant or slide off rainbows instead of being chased by man-eating butterflies, then you may want to take up video gaming. The link? Both represent alternate realities, said Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada.
“If you’re spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it’s practice,” Gackenbach told LiveScience in 2010. “Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams.” Her past research has shown that people who frequently play video games are more likely than non-gamers to have lucid dreams where they view themselves from outside their bodies; they were also better able to influence their dream worlds, as if controlling a video-game character.
That level of control may also help gamers turn a bloodcurdling nightmare into a carefree dream, she found in a 2008 study. This ability could help war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Gackenbach reasoned.
Animals have complex dreams
Animals have complex dreams and are able to retain and recall long sequences of events while they are asleep, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report for the first time in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Neuron.
While any pet owner knows that animals seem to dream, these studies show that animals brains follow the same series of sleeping states as ours do and are a lot more complex then one would think. What exactly they dream about is still unclear though.
Dreams can get you in trouble!
One West African group, the Ashanti, take dreams so seriously that they would allow a husband to take legal action against another man if that man had an erotic dream about his wife. How these crimes can ever be proven is beyond me though…
We all have nightmares
All cultures and time periods report nightmares. The word “nightmare” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word mare, meaning demon—which is related to the Sanskrit mara, meaning destroyer, and mar, meaning to crush. So the word “nightmare” carries with it connotations of being crushed by demonic forces. Yup, that sounds even scarier then just nightmare.
We forget 90% of our dreams
Within 5 minutes of waking up you will have forgotten 50% of your dream. Within 10 minutes 90% is gone. The famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge woke up one morning from a fantastic dream that gave him a great boost of inspiration. He immediately began to write his “vision in a dream”, which later became one of the most famous English poems: Kubla Khan. However while he was writing, he got distracted by a “Person from Porlock”. Coldridge later concentrated again on his poem, but couldn’t remember the rest of his dream and never finished his poem. Moral of the story, always write down your dreams within 5 minutes!
Blind people can see images in their dreams
People who become blind after birth see images in their dreams, while people who were born blind do not. Instead their other senses such as smell, sound and touch take over.
Dreams can predict the future
Several studies worldwide have shown that 18 to 38 % of people have experienced at least one predictive dream. Also no less than 70 % has had a Déjà-Vu experience linked to a dream. Researchers have tied evidence of precognitive dreams to déjà vu experiences that occurred anywhere from one day to eight years later. To this day, not much is known about this bizarre phenomena and why Déjà-Vu experiences are typically about mundane everyday things. One explanation is that something more exciting is more likely to be remembered, making a déjà vu experience less likely.
Our body is paralyzed during sleep
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a normal phase during sleep in which, as the name suggests, our eyes are affected by rapid movements. When you sleep, the REM stage lasts approximately 20 percent of the total dream, that is about 90 to 120 minutes. During the REM stage, the body is paralyzed by the brain, so you can’t make any physical movements during the dream.
All the people we see in our dreams are people we actually met
Our dreams are usually filled with, what seem to be, strangers. However did you know that your brain does not make up any of those faces? It are all faces of people you’ve already seen, but probably do not know or do not remember. The killer in your latest dream may as well be the mailman you bumped into years ago, but never talked to and never given a second thought ever since. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces so our brain has accumulated an endless supply of characters that we can use in our dreams.
Well, I hope you had a good time reading these bizarre facts about our dreams. Now I am off to my bed to re-check those facts. Good night and sweet dreams!