8 Things You Never Knew About Your Dreams
“1. Gender Roles
When it comes to nightmares, men and women are haunted by different thoughts, found researchers at the University of Montreal. Men’s nightmares were more likely to contain disasters and calamities such as floods, earthquakes and war, while women’s nightmares more often involved interpersonal conflicts.
2. Total Recall
Some people seem to be able to remember their dreams nearly every morning (the “high dream recallers”), while others only remember them an average of twice a month (“low dream recallers”). According to a study in the journal Cerebral Cortex, the reason for this difference could have something to do with how your brain responds to sound. Researchers found that high dream recallers’ brains were more reactive to sound, and awaken more throughout the night, creating brief moments to remember their dreams.
3. The Right Stuff
Another factor that could influence whether or not you remember your dreams? Your handedness. In a study of 1,375 participants, people who were right-handed or ambidextrous were more likely to remember their dreams than left-handers. More research is still needed to understand the connection between handedness and dream recall.
4. Virtual Cheating?
Like it or not, guys may not be so faithful when they’re sleeping. According to a survey of 306 young male adults, the most common sexual object that men dream about is not their girlfriend but a female acquaintance. The good news? He still wakes up next to you.
5. Not Again
Haunted by recurring dreams of showing up for a test you forgot to study for or wandering the school halls searching for your locker? You’re not alone. “Adolescence and young adulthood is an intense period of life—possibly the most intense—and we frame the world and our role within it during these years,” said dream researcher Ryan Hurd in an interview with Pacific Standard.
6. Reality Check
There’s a reason we rarely think about the plausibility of events when we’re dreaming: Our brain’s cognitive systems engage in reality testing. As University of Adelaide philosopher Professor Philip Gerrans explains, “A simple example of normal reality testing is the person who gets a headache, immediately thinks they might have a brain tumor, then dismisses that thought and moves on.” When we’re dreaming, “reality testing” systems are not active, which explains why you might really believe your teeth are falling out or that Ryan Gosling is your boyfriend.
7. Fear Factor
A recent study from the journal Sleep suggests that children who have persistent nightmares may be at an increased risk for psychotic experiences later in life. The greatest risk was for 12-year-olds—those with frequent nightmares were three and a half times more likely to report psychotic experiences than those who did not have frequent nightmares. While the stats may sound scary, the study’s senior author, Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick, points out that nightmares are common in children—70 percent of those age 2 to 9—and only 4.5 percent have psychotic experiences.
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Athletes looking to improve their game may want to try dreaming about the competition. In an experiment from Heidelberg University, researchers had individuals practice a simple motor task (tossing coins into a cup) in a lucid dream. Those who practiced the task in their lucid dream showed significant improvement when asked to play the game again the next day. Of course, to reap the benefits of sleep training, you’ll have to master lucid dreaming first.”