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In , Freud described a category of dreams known as "biographical dreams. Many authors agree that some traumatic dreams perform a function of recovery. One paper hypothesizes that the main aspect of traumatic dreams is to communicate an experience that the dreamer has in the dream but does not understand. This can help an individual reconstruct and come to terms with past trauma. The themes of dreams can be linked to the suppression of unwanted thoughts and, as a result, an increased occurrence of that suppressed thought in dreams.

The results demonstrate that there were increased dreams about the unwanted thought and a tendency to have more distressing dreams. They also imply that thought suppression may lead to significantly increased mental disorder symptoms. Research has indicated that external stimuli presented during sleep can affect the emotional content of dreams. For example, the positively-toned stimulus of roses in one study yielded more positively themed dreams, whereas the negative stimulus of rotten eggs was followed by more negatively themed dreams.

Up to now, the frequencies of typical dream themes have been studied with questionnaires. These have indicated that a rank order of 55 typical dream themes has been stable over different sample populations. For example, from to , there was an increase in the percentage of people who reported flying in dreams. This could reflect the increase in air travel. Some have hypothesized that one cluster of typical dreams, including being an object in danger, falling, or being chased, is related to interpersonal conflicts.

Another cluster that includes flying, sexual experiences, finding money, and eating delicious food is associated with libidinal and sexual motivations. A third group, containing dreams that involve being nude, failing an examination, arriving too late, losing teeth, and being inappropriately dressed, is associated with social concerns and a fear of embarrassment.

In neuroimaging studies of brain activity during REM sleep, scientists found that the distribution of brain activity might also be linked to specific dream features. Several bizarre features of normal dreams have similarities with well-known neuropsychological syndromes that occur after brain damage, such as delusional misidentifications for faces and places. Dreams were evaluated in people experiencing different types of headache. Results showed people with migraine had increased frequency of dreams involving taste and smell. This may suggest that the role of some cerebral structures, such as amygdala and hypothalamus, are involved in migraine mechanisms as well as in the biology of sleep and dreaming.

Music in dreams is rarely studied in scientific literature. However, in a study of 35 professional musicians and 30 non-musicians, the musicians experienced twice as many dreams featuring music, when compared with non-musicians. Musical dream frequency was related to the age of commencement of musical instruction but not to the daily load of musical activity. Nearly half of the recalled music was non-standard, suggesting that original music can be created in dreams.

It has been shown that realistic, localized painful sensations can be experienced in dreams, either through direct incorporation or from memories of pain. However, the frequency of pain dreams in healthy subjects is low. In one study, 28 non-ventilated burn victims were interviewed for 5 consecutive mornings during their first week of hospitalization.

More than half did not report pain dreams. However, these results could suggest that pain dreams occur at a greater frequency in populations currently experiencing pain than in normal volunteers. One study has linked frontotemporal gamma EEG activity to conscious awareness in dreams. The study found that current stimulation in the lower gamma band during REM sleep influences on-going brain activity and induces self-reflective awareness in dreams.

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Researchers concluded that higher order consciousness is related to oscillations around 25 and 40 Hz. Recent research has demonstrated parallels between styles of romantic attachment and general dream content. Assessment results from 61 student participants in committed dating relationships of six months duration or longer revealed a significant association between relationship-specific attachment security and the degree to which dreams about romantic partners followed.

The findings illuminate our understanding of mental representations with regards to specific attachment figures. Researchers compared the dream content of different groups of people in a psychiatric facility. Participants in one group had been admitted after attempting to take their own lives. Their dreams of this group were compared with those of three control groups in the facility who had experienced:.

Those who had considered or attempted suicide or carried out violence had were more likely to have dreams with content relating to death and destructive violence. One factor affecting this was the severity of an individual's depression. The right and left hemispheres of the brain seem to contribute in different ways to a dream formation. Researchers of one study concluded that the left hemisphere seems to provide dream origin while the right hemisphere provides dream vividness, figurativeness and affective activation level. A study of adolescents aged 10 to 17 years found that those who were left-handed were more likely to experience lucid dreams and to remember dreams within other dreams.

Dreams: Why do we dream?

Studies of brain activity suggest that most people over the age of 10 years dream between 4 and 6 times each night, but some people rarely remember dreaming. It is often said that 5 minutes after a dream, people have forgotten 50 percent of its content, increasing to 90 percent another 5 minutes later. Most dreams are entirely forgotten by the time someone wakes up, but it is not known precisely why dreams are so hard to remember.

There are factors that can potentially influence who remembers their dreams, how much of the dream remains intact, and how vivid it is. Over time, a person is likely to experience changes in sleep timing, structure, and electroencephalographic EEG activity. Evidence suggests that dream recall progressively decreases from the beginning of adulthood, but not in older age.

Dream also become less intense.

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  • This evolution occurs faster in men than women, with gender differences in the content of dreams. A study of dreams experienced by males and females found no differences between the amount of aggression, friendliness, sexuality, male characters, weapons, or clothes that feature in the content. However, the dreams of females featured a higher number of family members, babies, children, and indoor settings than those of males. Dream recall is heightened in patients with insomnia , and their dreams reflect the stress associated with their condition.

    The dreams of people with narcolepsy may a more bizarre and negative tone. One study looked at whether dream recall and dream content would reflect the social relationships of the person who is dreaming. College student volunteers were assessed on measures of attachment, dream recall, dream content, and other psychological measures. Participants who were classified as "high" on an "insecure attachment" scale were significantly more likely to:. Older volunteers whose attachment style was classed as "preoccupied" were significantly more likely to:.

    Everyone dreams, although we may not remember our dreams. At different times of life or during different experiencs, our dreams might change. A study investigating anxiety dreams in children aged 9 to 11 years observed the following:.

    Reasons for dreaming

    Studies comparing the dreams of pregnant and non-pregnant women showed that:. Those that give care to family or people who have long-term illnesses often have dreams related to that individual. A study following the dreams of adults that worked for at least a year with individuals at United States hospice centers noted:. It is widely believed that oppressive dreams are frequent in people going through a time of bereavement.

    A study analyzing dream quality, as well as the linking of oppressive dreams in bereavement, discovered that oppressive dreams:. In another study of people experiencing bereavement:. The number of people aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s dreaming in color increased through to Researchers speculated that color television might play a role in the generational difference. Another study using questionnaires and dream diaries also found older adults had more black and white dreams than the younger participants. Older people reported that both their color dreams and black and white dreams were equally vivid.

    However, younger participants said that their black and white dreams were of poorer quality. Some researchers claim to have evidence that this is possible, but there is not enough evidence to prove it. Most often, this seems to be due to coincidence, a false memory, or the unconscious mind connecting together known information. Dreams may help people learn more about their feelings, beliefs, and values.

    Images and symbols that appear in dreams will have meanings and connections that are specific to each person. People looking to make sense of their dreams should think about what each part of the dreams mean to them as an individual. However, for those who are interested in such books, there is a selection available for purchase online. One study followed the dream content of people who regularly use crack cocaine in Trinidad and Tobago during a period of abstinence:. People with complete vision loss have fewer visual dream impressions compared with sighted participants.

    People who have been unable to see from birth report more auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory dream components, compared with sighted participants. One small study explored the dream diaries of 14 people with impairments. When compared with 36 able-bodied individuals, findings showed that around 80 percent of the dream reports of participants with deafness gave no indication of their impairment.

    Dreams: Why do we dream?

    Similarly, the dream reports of those with paraplegia showed that the participants often walked, ran, or swam in their dreams, none of which they had ever done in their waking lives. A second study looked at the dream reports of 15 people who were either born with paraplegia or acquired it later in life, due to a spinal-cord injury. Their reports revealed that 14 participants with paraplegia had dreams in which they were physically active, and they dreamed about walking as often as the 15 control participants who did not have paraplegia.

    Other research has suggested that the brain has the genetically determined ability to generate experiences that mimic life, including fully functioning limbs and senses. People who are born without hearing or unable to move are likely tapping into these parts of the brain as they dream about tasks they cannot perform while awake. We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link s above.

    Article last updated by Adam Felman on Thu 28 June All references are available in the References tab. PLoS One, 6 A comparison of the manifest content in dreams of suicidal, depressed and violent patients [Abstract]. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31 1 , Dreams and REM sleep [Abstract]. Journal of Sleep Research. Exploring the dreams of hospice workers [Abstract]. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 31 4 , Consciousness and Cognition, 11 1 , Dreams and interhemispheric asymmetry [Abstract].

    Zhurnal Nevrologii i Psikhiatrii imeni S. Korsakova, 12 , Is the brain of migraineurs "different" even in dreams? Dreams and the temporarlity of consciousness [Abstract]. American Journal of Psychology, 2 , Psychoanalysis and the neurosciences: International Journal on Psychoanalysis, 80 6 , Memory sources of dreams: Journal of Sleep Research, 23 4 , Generation and function of dreams [Abstract].

    Reviews in Neurology, 59 8 , Do we only dream in colour? A comparison of reported dream colour in younger and older adults with different experiences of black and white media [Abstract]. Life span differences in color dreaming [Abstract]. Dreaming, 21 3 , What physicians need to know about dreams and dreaming [Abstract]. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 18 6 , Are oppressive dreams indicators in bereavement?

    Incorporation of pain in dreams of hospitalized burn victims [Abstract]. Sleep, 25 7 , Progression of dreams of crack cocaine abusers as a predictor of treatment outcome: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 12 , Walking dreams in congenital and acquired paraplegia [Abstract]. Journal of Psychology, 6 , Prevalence of flying dreams. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2 , Life goes on in dreams. If you sleep on your side, these are the best pillows for you. Sleep A Soundtrack for Slumber: Find out what's happening to you physically and mentally as you wrestle to stay awake.

    The number of hours of sleep you need to stay healthy and alert varies according to your age. Sleep What Is Light Sleep vs. Learn what factors affect how well you sleep, and what you can do to make sure you get the restful and deep sleep your body and mind need for you to b Sleep 11 Tricks for Waking Up Earlier in the Morning If "rise and shine" in your life is more like "hit snooze and whine," try these ideas for making friends with your alarm clock.

    Sleep Smartphones, Tablets Sabotaging Teens' Sleep Study found more adolescents getting less rest because of temptations of technology. Sleep Loneliness May Lead to Sleepless Nights Study suggests that feeling alone may make one feel less safe, unable to rest. Millions of Americans have creepy-crawly sensations at bedtime, and it has nothing to do with bedbugs.