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Surprising Facts About Your Dreams

Fredda Branyon has dedicated her life to the advancement of complementary medicine.


Dreaming is one of the most fascinating and mysterious features of human physiology—your brain creates an entire experience that you have no control over, which occurs in your REM (rapid eye movement) state when you're sleeping. Although figuring out what your dreams mean can be intriguing, there are other interesting facts about dreams that you might not know yet.

Scents Influence Your Sleep

Have you ever had nightmares? You might think it's because you're stressed at work or home. However, experts say it's your nose that may be to blame. You might be surprised to learn that what you smell at night may affect your dreams.

It has been found that external stimuli during sleep, such as smells, can impact dreams, but the nature of these effects has remained unclear. One study suggested that pleasant scents are linked to more positive dreams, whereas unpleasant ones lead to nightmares.

Dreams Can Improve Memories

Dreams, in general, serve as a place to store important memories and lessons, replacing less important ones and helping to resolve conflicting emotions. According to a study conducted by Harvard in 2010, dreams help reactivate and consolidate newly acquired information, improving memory and enhancing performance.

Although it's unclear how sleep affects our memory storage and how we recall them, dreams may increase the brain's efficiency in storing and retrieving information by blocking out distracting stimuli.

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Medications Can Cause Nightmares

Dreams are a combination of past and present events forming new memories that we can recall later; however, nightmares are simply vivid dreams that trigger unpleasant feelings. A wide range of factors can cause the frequency of nightmares in adults, but often they are more spontaneous than they seem.

Several medications are known to cause nightmare frequency. Drugs like antidepressants and narcotics, which affect the chemicals in the brain, are often associated with nightmares. Non-psychological medications such as blood pressure medication may also contribute to nightmares.

What Our Dreams Are Saying?

We often recall our dreams in a haze when we wake up, but others stay vivid in our memories for so long that we wonder what they could mean. There may be a deeper meaning to your dreams, no matter how dull or bizarre they seem.

Sigmund Freud's theory suggests that it represents our unconscious desires, thoughts, wish fulfillments, and motivations. In other words, dreams present our repressed conflicts and desires in an obscure manner to conceal what they mean.

However, Carl Jung's theory took a more comprehensive approach to dreams. Jung believed in dreams as psychological compensation for different events as they help explain events and balance unfamiliar aspects of one's self.

You can interpret dreams in many ways, but there is no one-size-fits-all that you can apply to all dreams. Some dreams tell you how you feel about someone, while others may reflect how stressed you are.

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