Dream Facts

Interesting Facts about Dreams and Sleep

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About Dreams

Did you Know?

  • The record for the longest period of sleep deprivation is 18 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes.
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  • The majority of people sleep with their eyes open. This occurs during very brief naps lasting only milliseconds.
  • Adults dream every night for a total of between 1 ½ - 3 hours.
  • If you take longer than 5 minutes to fall asleep it is an indication that you are sleep deprived. Ten to fifteen minutes is considered ideal.
  • The quality of dreams depends, at least in part, on the stage of sleep in which the dreams occur. Dreams during REM tend to be more bizarre and detailed and have a story line. Dreams in stages 1 and 2 of sleep are simpler and shorter. Deep-sleep dreams tend to be diffused and may be about nothing more than a colour or emotion.
  • People who are born blind report no visual imagery in dreams, but they experience a heightened sense of taste, touch, and smell. Those who become sightless between the ages of five and seven may have visual images in their dreams, while those who lose their vision after age seven continue to “see” in their dreams, though images tend to fade as they grow older.
  • For reasons that are unknown, males dream of males more often than females dream of males. This sexual asymmetry is universal and has emerged from at least 29 different comparisons of male and female dreams—and it holds true for children, adolescents, and adults in all parts of the world.
  • When deprived of dreams, individuals become irritable and disoriented, hallucinate, and show signs of psychosis. They will also dream excessively the first chance they get in a phenomenon known as “REM rebound.”
  • Parents lose between 400-750 hours of sleep in the first 12 months of having a baby.
  • Research shows that dreams once thought to only occur during REM sleep, also occur (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. Suggesting that we may actually be engaged in dreams the entire time we are asleep.
  • Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analogous to watching television.
  • Researchers hypothesize that with the exception of dolphins, all mammals dream. Read more about Do animals dream?
  • By the time we die, most of us will have spent a quarter of a century asleep, of which six years or more will have been spent dreaming—and almost all of those dreams are forgotten upon waking.
  • There is a probability that REM sleep may help the development of baby’s brains. Evidence is that premature babies have 75% REM sleep, whilst full-term infants require 65%.
  • Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing that a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain's sleep-wake clock.
  • Drugs that are used for regulating the endocrine system, for controlling blood pressure, and for treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease can wreak havoc on form, content, and frequency of dreams.
  • The memory-recording processes of the brain seems to switch off during sleep. In so-called non-dreamers, this memory shutdown is more complete than it is for the rest. Dreams may be forgotten because they are incoherent or because they contain repressed material that the conscious mind does not wish to remember.
  • St. Jerome’s mistranslation of certain key biblical passages led Medieval Christians to fear their dreams and to view them as the devil’s invitation to sin.
  • Nicotine patches and even melatonin (an over-the-counter sleep aid) are reported to increase the vividness of dreams and nightmares. The nicotine patch in particular is said to intensify dreams.
  • The link between hallucinogenic drugs and dreams has been recognized since the time of oldest societies. Belladonna was the drug of ancient oracles of Delphi, used to induce trances and dreams. The early Persians used Haoma for the same general purpose.
  • Sufferers of epilepsy can have extremely vivid and disturbing nightmares that immediately precede seizures during the night.
  • Researchers at New York University suggest that wakefulness and REM sleep are essentially similar brain states, differing only in the extent to which they are shaped by sensory stimuli from the outside world.
  • Modern studies show that children have more animal dreams than adults. The animal figures that occurred most frequently are dogs, horses, cats, snakes, bears, lions, and mythical creatures or monsters. Read more about children's dreams.
  • South Asian Hindus developed the idea that this world is actually a dream and the “real” reality is somewhere else. The Vedas, the oldest Hindu scriptures (3,000-4,000 years old) suggest that people are reincarnated back into this world, which is a dream, and it’s only after breaking the cycle of reincarnation or “waking up” from this dream world, that they’ll understand the truth and become complete.
  • Research shows 17 hours of being awake, leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.
  • After the printing press was invented, a dream dictionary called Oneirocritica (The Interpretation of Dreams) by second-century author Artemidorus Daldianus became one of the first best-sellers, comparable only to the Bible in popularity.
  • The average person has about 1,460 dreams a year. That’s about four per night.
  • Modern research has shown that a sharp decrease in daily calories results in fewer nocturnal ejaculations in men and an overall decrease in the sexual themes of dreams.
  • Some people possess a "natural alarm clock" which enables them to wake up when they need to. Researchers attribute this to a burst of adrenocorticotropin which is a stress hormone and is indicative that the sleeper reacts to the stress of waking up.
  • In general, pregnant women remember dreams more than other populations. This is largely due to the extreme hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • Sleeping tablets can suppress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.
  • Attempting to “treat” insomnia as a result of bereavement via sleeping pills, is shown to disrupt the grieving process.
  • Vitamin B complex (B6) and St. John’s Wort have been shown to produce more vivid dreams.
  • Research has demonstrated that the tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can disrupt the sleep cycle even. Scientists state that such light turns off a "neural switch" in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.
  • During REM sleep, the flow of blood to the brain increases, as does the brain’s temperature. Additionally, both the penis and the clitoris in women become erect.
  • Falling dreams typically occur at the beginning of the night, in Stage I sleep. These dreams are often accompanied by muscle spasms, called myoclonic jerks, and are common in many mammals.
  • Body temperature and the brain's sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. The blood flow mechanism that transfers core body heat to the skin works best between 18 and 30 degrees. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23 and 25 degrees - one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.
  • Discovered in 1856, the planet Neptune (which is named after the Roman god of the sea) is considered the planet of dreams—because, like water, dreams distort and cloud images and meaning. Additionally, water represents the depths of the unconscious and our emotional levels in dream imagery, places that our dreams take us.
  • If you suffer 5 straight nights of partial sleep deprivation, then 3 standard alcoholic drinks will have the same effect as 6 drinks would when you have had adequate sleep.
  • Snoring only occurs in Non-REM sleep, thus you cannot REM sleep when you are snoring.
  • Research shows that females need at least 1 hour more sleep than males. It is believed that by not obtaining this extra hour could account for why depression is more predominant in females than males.
  • 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.
  • Research subjects deliberately deprived of sleep initially noticed major effects on their alertness, mood and physical performance, but this awareness subsided after the first few days, implying that people actually grow used to being fatigued.
  • Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions in the modern-day is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.
  • Studies show that when people wind their clocks back one hour for the initiation of daylight saving results in fewer road accidents.

Related Pages

* History of Dream Interpretation

* Famous Dreams

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