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14 things you didn't know about dreams

14 things you didn't know about dreams

By Intellibed | Posted - May 26, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.



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Flying vampire penguins, talking monkeys, your high school crush: all these can appear in your dreams during just one night of REM sleep.

While your body is resting in bed for approximately one-third of your life, your brain gets busy spinning wacky tales. Here are some things you might not know about the world of dreams.

1. Many dream themes are universal

Being late for class (even though you haven’t attended school in a long time), flying, being chased and falling are common themes almost everyone has at one time or another experienced. A study of these common themes is what has allowed dreams to be interpreted unless, of course, you are Joseph of Egypt.

2. You are paralyzed while you dream

Common themes also include feeling as if you can’t move, and there may be a reason for that. During rapid eye movement sleep, voluntary muscles are paralyzed, which “prevents you from acting out your dreams while you sleep,” as About.com notes. And if you wake up during this time and still feel frozen, don’t worry: it will only last a few minutes.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

3. One night may feature dozens of dreams

Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a dream expert and author, tells WebMD, “We dream every 90 minutes throughout the night, with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the previous. The first dream of the night is about five minutes long and the last dream you have before awakening can be 45 minutes to an hour long.” This can add up to 100,000 dreams in a lifetime.

It is important to note though that in order to dream your body must be in REM state. This means that your body must have gone through four stages of sleep and finally arrived at this stage where your body is as active as it is when it is awake. If you don't achieve this deep level of healing sleep, you will miss out on those dreams.

Tossing and turning throughout the night can also prevent you from dreaming. Chances are you are sleeping on a foam mattress, and they can sag up to 25 percent in the first few years.

Foam may also be the cause of pressure points on your shoulders and hips, which result in increased tossing and turning. Each time you toss and turn, your sleep cycle is interrupted and you start back at stage one of sleep, never allowing your body to get to stages three and four and REM where your body's real deep healing takes place. Sleeping on a gel mattress has been shown to reduce pressure points by up to 80 percent.

4. You forget most dreams

About.com says that dream researcher J. Allan Hobson estimates as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking. This is possibly because what happens in the brain while we sleep does not “support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place."

5. Gender differences extend to dreams

Men’s dreams feature mostly male characters, but women dream equally of women and men, lifehack.org says. About.com says women have longer dreams, and they also have more nightmares, according to curiosityaroused.com.

6. Negative emotions prevail in dreams

Thanks to the efforts of researcher Calvin S. Hall in collecting over 50,000 dream accounts over 40 years, About.com notes, we know that while many emotions are experienced in dreams, the most common felt during dreams is anxiety, and negative emotions outweigh positive ones.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

7. Night owls have more nightmares

Studies have shown that people who stay up late are more likely to have bad dreams than those who retire early. New developments in technology can help people who struggle to sleep find great sleep success.

A recently launched app called Sleep Genius was developed following their research helping NASA get astronauts to sleep in space. Their technology helps entrain your brain's sleep centers and regulates sleep rhythms enabling users to sleep better, longer and achieve the deep healing sleep the body needs.

8. You can control your dreams

“Lucid dreaming” is actually possible, and people can work to develop the skill, dream researcher Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D., tells WebMD. “The technique is particularly useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares.”

9. We only see faces we already know

Lifehack.org says studies have shown we only see faces in our dreams that we have seen in real life before.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

10. You can’t read while dreaming or tell the time

Lifehack.org also states that most people cannot read in their dreams, and time is ever-changing. Lucid dreamers report that each time they “look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving.

11. You don’t have to be asleep to dream

“Wakeful dreaming — not to be confused with daydreaming — is real and somewhat easy to do,” according to WebMD. It can be used as a relaxation tool, but it can also allow you to process a “puzzling” dream.

12. Dreaming can help you learn

Your brain actually solves problems and learns while it dreams, says WebMD. “To improve the quality of your sleep — and your brain’s ability to learn — avoid noise in the bedroom, such as the TV, which may negatively impact the length and quality of dreams.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

13. You can interpret your dreams

Just in case, you weren't convinced by the story of Joseph interpretting Pharaoh's dream in The Bible, studies have shown that dream interpretting is definitely a thing. Any dream can provide symbols and meaning that can help you solve daytime dilemmas and worries, according to WebMD.

Therapist Jeffrey Sumber advises to think about how a dream makes you feel. There are plenty of reference books available that give ideas about how to interpret common symbols.

14. Recurring dreams may be your mind’s way of telling you something

If you have the same dream over and over, you may want to take the time to interpret its meaning so you can help yourself resolve the issue and get rid of it, WebMD says.

When it comes to dreams, you never know what you're going to get. Ensure your body gets the rest it needs — while your mind processes everything else — with a bed that will help you become a healthier sleeper.

Intellibed

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