When was the last time you woke up from a really crazy, creepy dream? Or, even worse, the last time you had one of those weird reoccurring nightmares where you’re running completely naked through Trafalgar Square in London and everyone is just standing around unwilling to help? Just me? Oh, or what about the one where all of your teeth are falling out or you’re running late to a meeting or exam? These are a bit easier to explain according to science and are typically linked to anxiety, which are the worst. If you’re having weird dreams of late, you can definitely attribute some semblance of it to mercury in retrograde.
While some things can be explained when it comes to dreams, and some have been linked to things like low blood sugar, or being sick or stressed, there’s still so much to be discovered about how and why we dream what we do.
“Dreams are influenced by our waking lives in many ways, and theories suggest dreaming is a means by which the brain processes emotions, stimuli, memories, and information that's been absorbed throughout the waking day," Dr. Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep expert told Bustle. "Our most memorable and emotionally powerful dreams happen during the REM (rapid-eye movement) phase of sleep, which is the stage of sleep when our brains are most similar to a wakeful state."
Sigmund Freud famously theorized that dreams were nothing more than an expression of one’s unconscious subconscious. In his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, he argued that dreams are nothing more than desires that we’re looking to fulfill in our waking lives. Possible. But there’s more to the story here and as science and studies continue to evolve, there’s more evidence than ever about some of the weird and downright creepy things that happen while we sleep.
1. You’re Actually Paralyzed When You Dream
Well this is horrifying, but according to the NationalSleep Foundation, REM sleep which is the acronym for rapid eye movement by the way, is the part of your sleep cycle where you dream the most. While most of us already knew that part, what you may not have known is that while the brain becomes more active, your muscles become more relaxed and your voluntary muscles actually become immobilized.
2. . Women Have More Nightmares Than Men
Sometimes you have to see it to believe it, and this one came about when a researcher by the name of Jennie Parker was inspired by her own nightmares and took matters into her own hands. Parker’s Ph.D study at the time found that women suffer more nightmares then men. In the study of 100 women and 93 men between the ages of 18-25 who were asked to record their most recent dream in their very own “dream journal” concluded that 19 percent of men reported a nightmare compared with 30 percent of women.
3. Women and Men Are More Often Victims Than Aggressors in Their Dreams
According to this excerpt from The Dreams of Men and Women: Patterns of Gender Similarity and Difference,“ both men and women are more often victims than aggressors in the aggressive interactions in their dreams, and they face the same attackers, namely, men who are not known to them ('male strangers') and animals." On the upside, the study found, both men and women are equally likely to befriend another character in their dreams. So, that’s good.
4. Women’s Dreams Are Also More Emotional
Women taking part in the above study were much more likely to report dreaming about very emotionally traumatic events like the loss of a loved one. Great.
5. 60 Percent Of People Don’t Remember Their Dreams
A lot of times you hear somebody say they don’t dream. That’s simply not true. Everybody dreams, the problem is 60 percent of people don’t remember it. According to a report in Neuropsychopharmacology, the hypothalamus, or the area of the brain involved in information processing is much more active in people who regularly remember their dreams.
6. You Forget 90 Percent Of Your Dreams Within 10 Minutes
According to a report by Scientific American, there are a number of contributing factors associated with why we have a low dream recall. While it’s fairly complex, the gist of why we tend to forget is due to the absence of the hormone norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, a brain region that plays a key role in memory, thought, language and consciousness. Sigmund Freud theorized that we forget our dreams because they contain our repressed thoughts and emotions that we wouldn’t want to remember anyway.
7. Dreams Are Mostly Negative
Well this one’s a real bummer. But according to the website VeryWell.com, the most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety and negative emotions. These findings are attributed a study by researcher Calvin S. Hall who collected more than 50,000 dream accounts from college students.
8. Sleep Eating Disorder Is Also Real
Yep, sleep eating is a real thing, and while not as common as sleep walking or talking, this disorder, known more commonly by its acronym SRED involves recurrent episodes of involuntary eating and/or drinking during sleep. While some people have no recollection of their behavior, others are completely alert.
9. Our Best Sleep Will Never Happen Again
According to Psychology Today, the best sleep happens between the ages of eight to 10 years old... and then it’s all downhill from there. This is due to sleep quality, which inevitably worsens in ways that become “more profound” as we age. Unlike adults, a child under eight years old only awakens about 20 percent of the time from R.E.M. with a dream recall, compared to adults.
10. According To A Study, 12 Percent Of People Dream In Black & White
According to one 2008 study on PubMed.gov, people over 55 who grew up with little access to color television reported dreaming in black and white about a quarter of the time, and 12 percent of people dream entirely in black and white. Given all of the modern technologies we’re exposed to on a daily basis, it might be time to give this study another go.