Why do we forget our dreams?

Our dreams are wonderfully mysterious and intriguing. Dreaming can bring us some of the most interesting experiences in our lives.   In ancient times dreams were thought to be messages from the gods. Dream interpreters often accompanied military leaders into battles and campaigns! In addition to this, it is also known that many artists receive their creative ideas through their dreams.   But what do we actually know about dreams? That seems almost as elusive as the dreams themselves. Here is my collection of interesting dream facts!  


1. Everybody dreams


  Researchers are continuously trying to find out the facts behind our dreams. Dreams can be fascinating, exciting, terrifying or even just weird and illogical. But we all do it men, women, babies, animals, even those of us who claim not to. In fact, researchers have found that people often have four to seven dreams in one night, so on average you can dream anywhere from one or two hours every night. During a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming!  


2. Dreams are quickly forgotten


  It is thought that as much as 90% of all dreams are quickly forgotten on waking or shortly after. Why are our dreams so difficult to remember? Well according to one theory, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place. Brain scans of sleeping individuals have shown that the frontal lobes, which is the area that plays a key role in memory formation, are inactive during REM sleep, this is the stage in which dreaming occurs.  


3. Do you dream in black and white or colour


  While approximately 80 percent of all dreams are in colour, there are a small percentage of people who claim to only dream in black and white. In studies where dreamers have been awakened and asked to select colours from a chart that match those in their dreams, soft pastel colours are those most frequently chosen. Studies from 1915 through to the 1950s maintained that the majority of dreams were in black and white, but these results began to change in the 1960's. Today only 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white. This suggests that the cause of this shift is linked to the switch from black-and-white film and TV to colour media.  


4. Men and women dream differently


  Researchers have found a number of differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams. One study showed that men reported more instances of dreaming about aggression than women did. Whereas women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters. When it comes to the characters that typically appear in dreams, men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.  


5. Animals dream


  Have you ever watched a sleeping dog wag its tail or move its legs while asleep and maybe make a muffled bark? Just like humans, animals go through sleep stages that include cycles of REM and NREM sleep. In one study, a gorilla was taught sign language as a means of communication. At one point, the gorilla signed "sleep pictures,"  indicating the experience of dreaming.  


6. Lucid dreams


  A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming even though you are still asleep. During this type of dream, you can often "direct" or control the content of the dream. Approximately half of all people can remember experiencing at least one instance of lucid dreaming, and some individuals are able to have lucid dreams quite frequently.  


7. Negative emotions are more common in dreams


  A long study taken over forty years and involving more than 50,000 dream accounts, revealed that while many emotions are experienced during dreams including joy, happiness and fear, the most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety, and negative emotions in general were much more common than positive ones.  


8. Blind people dream


  While people who lost their eyesight prior to age five usually do not have visual dreams in adulthood, they still dream. Despite the lack of visuals, the dreams of the blind are just as complex and vivid as those of the sighted. Instead of visual sensations, dreams typically include information from the other senses such as sound, touch, taste, hearing and smell.  


9. Feeling paralysed during your dreams


  REM sleep, the stage of sleep during which dreaming occurs, is characterised by paralysis of the voluntary muscles. Why, you ask? The phenomenon is known as REM atonia and prevents you from acting out your dreams while you're asleep. Basically, because motor neurons are not stimulated, your body does not move. Occasionally, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as ten minutes,it is a condition known as sleep paralysis. If you have ever woken up from a terrifying dream only to find yourself unable to move? While this type of experience may be frightening, experts advise that it is perfectly normal and should last only a few minutes before normal muscle control returns.  


10. Dream themes


  While dreams are often heavily influenced by our personal experiences, researchers have found that certain themes are very common even across different cultures. For example, being chased, being attacked or falling. Other common dream experiences include school events, feeling frozen and unable to move, arriving late, flying and being naked in public.  


11. We only see faces that we already know


  Our mind is not inventing faces – in our dreams we see real faces of real people that we have seen during our life but may not know or remember. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces throughout our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilise during our dreams.  


12. Dreams are symbolic


  If you dream about some particular subject it is not often that the dream is about that. Dreams speak in a deeply symbolic language. Whatever symbol your dream picks on it is most unlikely to be a symbol for itself.  


13. If you are snoring, then you cannot be dreaming


  This fact is repeated all over the Internet, but I’m very sceptical as to the truth, there is no scientific evidence to support it, some people apparently snore all night which means they would never enjoy dreaming aahhhh.  


14. Dream incorporation


  Our mind interprets the external stimuli that our senses are bombarded with when we are asleep and makes them a part of our dreams. This means that sometimes in our dreams we hear a sound from reality and incorporate it in some way. For example you may hear loud music and dream about being at a concert.  


15. Precognitive dreams


  Results of several surveys across large population sets indicate that between 18% and 38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive dream and 70% have experienced déjà vu. The percentage of persons that believe precognitive dreaming is possible is even higher – ranging from 63% to 98%.   *Precognition, also called future sight, refers to perception that involves the acquisition of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information.   Well, I hope you had a great time reading these interesting facts about our dreams. Now it's off to bed to check out those facts again. Good night and sweet dreams!     By Zoe Vanderbilt  B.Sc