The Facts About Dreams
All humans dream. (And as most mammals and birds experience REM sleep, it’s presumed that they do, too.) When people say, “I don’t dream,” they’re really telling you that they don’t remember their dreams. Remembering is easier if you wake up in the middle of a dream or almost immediately afterward. Consequently, light sleepers, who are apt to wake up frequently during REM sleep, generally have better recall than their sound-asleep bedmates. Remembering is also easier when you awaken naturally, like on the weekend or during a vacation. The jolt of an alarm clock, on the other hand, is liable to make your thoughts jump abruptly from a fantasy dream to a nagging to-do list.
Why Are Certain Dreams So Common?
Falling from a cliff. Being chased. Flying. These themes persist across cultures and generations. “There’s folklore from almost every civilization showing that we all dream about these things,” says Cartwright. “They’re related to universal anxieties.” The predominant anxiety-dream themes express the fear of feeling humiliated, losing one’s beauty, not being desired, or not having the capabilities to succeed at something. They include:
- Taking a test.
- Finding yourself pregnant.
- Forgetting your child someplace.
- Appearing naked in public.
- Standing onstage.
- Teeth or hair falling out.
- Being intimate with a stranger.