1. Aside from those who experience certain kinds of injury, it’s a biological fact that everyone dreams. However, not everyone remembers his or her dreams.
2. Most of us dream every 90 minutes, and the longest dreams (30-45 minutes) occur in the morning.
3. One West African group, the Ashanti, take dreams so seriously that they would allow a husband to take legal action against another man if that man had an erotic dream about his wife.
4. The average person has about 1,460 dreams a year. That’s about four per night.
5. Among the six dreams reported in the New Testament are the dreams that communicate divine knowledge, instruction, and warning to Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.
6. About 80% of neonatal and newborn sleep time is REM sleep, suggesting a tremendous amount of time dreaming.
7. According to Plato, dreams originate in the organs of the belly. Plato describes the liver in particular as the biological seat of dreams.
8. In the Chinese province of Fu-Kein, people called on their ancestors for dream revelation by sleeping on graves.
9. Because nightmares were thought to be from menacing spirits, such as witches, folklore suggests placing a knife under the foot of the bed. Evil spirits were thought to be repelled by the steel on the knife.
10. “Old Hag Syndrome,” or sleep paralysis, occurs in as many as 40% of all people. It happens when a sleeper wakes, recognizes his or her surroundings but is unable to move for as long as a minute. The folklore explanation is that it is caused by a witch, or an old hag, who was coming to get you in your sleep.
11. Psychologists speculate that falling dreams are rooted in our early experiences as toddlers taking our first steps on two legs. Some sociobiologists argue that our fear of falling derives from the experiences of prehistorical ancestors afraid of tumbling out of trees during the night.
12. Flying dreams can express both our hopes and fears in life—we can be “flying high” or “risen above” something. Freud associated flying with sexual desire, Alfred Adler with the will to dominate others, and Carl Jung with the desire to break free from restriction.
13. Even the occasional use of alcohol can have a significant impact on sleep and dreaming. Alcohol slows activity in the cortex, which causes a person to sink into a deep, slow-wave sleep rather than experiencing REM sleep.
14. Finding oneself in a cemetery during a dream may indicate sadness or unresolved grief. It may also represent one’s “dead” past.
15. Birth order influences the role of aggression in dreams. While men typically experience more aggressive dreams than women, a firstborn male typically sees himself in a more positive manner than do his younger male siblings. First-born females tend to have more aggressive characters in their dreams.
16. Modern studies show that children have more animal dreams than adults. The animal figures that occurred most frequently are dogs, horses, cats, snakes, bears, lions, and mythical creatures or monsters.
17. Childhood dreams are shorter than adult dreams and nearly 40% of them are nightmares, which may act as a coping mechanism.