30 Facts & Myths About Dreaming

By molly atherton 7 months ago
Ah, dreams—the nightly cinema of our subconscious, where the laws of reality take a coffee break and imagination throws an unruly party. As we navigate the surreal landscapes of slumber, we often find ourselves pondering the enigma that is the dream world. Are dreams secret messages from our inner psyche, or just a result of too much pizza before bedtime? Join me on a whimsical journey through the facts and myths about dreaming, where we'll separate the truths from tales.

1. Blind people dream in sounds

People who have been blind since birth do not dream like everybody else, obviously because they have never been able to see things. That doesn't mean they don't dream at all, though. What a lot of people don't know is that blind people dream in sounds as well as smells and emotions.
image source: Reddit 
In the absence of visual stimuli, the dreams of the blind are intricately woven with a tapestry of sounds, smells, and emotions. These dreams transcend the boundaries of the visual landscape, delving into the realms of auditory sensations and olfactory perceptions.Originally sourced from Femanin.

2. It's a myth that you shouldn't wake a sleepwalker

Plenty of us sleepwalk or experience sleepwalking in our lives. In fact 15% of the population are sleepwalkers and while it's not a nice feeling being woken up, it actually isn't dangerous. You can't cause a heart attack or put the person into a coma by waking them up.
image source: Reddit 
It's essential to understand that sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is a relatively common occurrence, affecting around 15% of the population at some point in their lives. This sleep disorder typically occurs during non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when the individual is in a state of partial arousal.

3. You forget 50% of your dreams in 5 minutes

Have you ever woken up, remembered a bit of a dream but started forgetting it as you've started thinking about it? Well, you're not alone! This is the reason why many people keep dream journals as a way of remembering what they dreamt about each night.
image source: Reddit 
The fleeting nature of dream recall is a curious quirk of the human mind. As the waking world gradually asserts its presence, the intricate and sometimes fantastical details of dreams tend to dissolve into the recesses of forgetfulness. It's a phenomenon that many can relate to.

4. People can actually be awake whilst in their dreams

Lucid dreaming is a thing and it's where people are aware that they're asleep and can sometimes control what they dream about. Imagine Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception...it's a real thing but not many people realise quick enough for them to control their dreams.
image source: Reddit 
The concept of lucid dreaming challenges the conventional boundaries between consciousness and the dream state, providing a unique avenue for self-exploration and adventure within the recesses of the subconscious. Scientific research has substantiated the existence of lucid dreaming.

5. Dreaming in black & white

Thinking back to the times when televisions were in black and white, pre 1954, only 15% of us dreamt in colour. A lot of us still dream in black and white now but its more common for us to dream in colour now we spend a lot of our time watching TV and films.
image source: Reddit
With the influx of color imagery into daily life through television and films, the dream palette evolved. However, even in the technicolor age, a substantial number of people still find themselves traversing the landscapes of their subconscious in black and white.

6. Deaf people often use sign language in their sleep

Just like blind people dream in sound, some deaf people have been known to dream in sign language. Many of us can't even comprehend what that must be like, but if someone has been deaf since birth, or almost fully deaf it makes complete sense - how else would they dream?
image source: Reddit 
Imagine a dream where the silent ballet of hands communicates the nuances of emotion, desire, and narrative. In the absence of spoken words, the dreamer navigates a world where every graceful movement and purposeful expression carries profound significance.

7. The sleep paralysis demons

Hands up who's had sleep paralysis?! I think we all have experienced it or will experience it at some point in our lives and it can be terrifying. If feels like we're awake at the same time as dreaming and we can often see creatures right in front of us in our bedrooms.
image source: Linkedin 
The sensation of sleep paralysis is like a spectral hand, gripping the mind and body in a momentary suspension. You're aware of your surroundings, trapped in a state that feels like wakefulness, yet the body remains steadfastly anchored in the realm of slumber.

8. Toddlers don't dream about themselves...

Now this one comes as a surprise to me, because most toddlers act and think that the world revolves around themselves. However, what a lot of people don't know is that they don't feature in their own dreams. We don't appear in our own dreams until we're about three or four years old.
image source: Reddit 
This peculiar quirk in the psychology of toddler dreams unveils a fascinating facet of cognitive development. As the young mind grapples with the complexities of self-awareness, the dreamworld offers a unique canvas for the expression of subconscious processes.

9. Fear isn't the most common emotion we experience in our dreams

That's right, fear isn't the most common emotion we experience in our dreams. When we talk about dreams, we tend to focus on the scary ones when in fact, the most common emotions to feature in our dreams in sadness, anxiety and guilt - which can be just as bad as feeling afraid, let's be honest.
image source: Reddit 
Sadness, that profound and melancholic ache, finds its way into the dream narratives, casting shadows on the subconscious stage. The dreamer may traverse landscapes tinged with a sense of loss, yearning, or emotional poignancy, each scene a poignant reminder of the intricate tapestry of human experience.

10. Men and Women dream differently

You know what they say, women are from Venus, men are from Mars, so it's probably isn't too surprising to know that we dream differently too. Men have more violent and aggressive dreams that women, who tend to dream about things that cause them to feel guilty.
image source: Reddit 
The divergence in dream content between men and women is not solely a result of inherent biological differences but is also influenced by cultural and societal norms. Gender roles, expectations, and the unique life experiences of each individual contribute to the kaleidoscope of dreams.

11. You can't tell the time when you're dreaming

Many of us don't ever realise that we're asleep in our dreams, because we cannot see clocks, or tell the time when we're dreaming. Clocks are man made to manage time, dreams are related with emotion, feelings, fear. choice, desire and past experiences.
image source: Reddit
The absence of a coherent sense of time in dreams reflects the prioritization of emotions, sensations, and the vivid tapestry of the subconscious over the structured measurement of hours and minutes. Dreams become a canvas where the mind explores the depths of fear, joy, and sorrow.

12. You also can't read a book whilst you're dreaming

If you've ever had a dream in which you're reading, the text is just a projection of your subconscious. It might make sense in your dream but it doesn't actually reflect reality whatsoever. It's also very unlikely that the text is even written in a language you know or exists.
image source: Reddit 
The inability to read in dreams, at least in a manner that corresponds to the rules of language and communication in the waking world, underscores the unique dynamics of the dreaming mind. It serves as a reminder that dreams operate on a plane of existence where the boundaries of reality are malleable.

13. Google was invented in a dream

A lot of inventors keep a note of things that they dream about incase one comes into fruition one day and this is exactly how Google came about. Whilst Larry Page was dreaming, he got the idea to create the most used search engine in the world, Google.
image source: Reddit 
As the narrative goes, Page, like many visionaries and inventors, recognized the creative potential that resides within the nocturnal landscapes of the mind. Armed with a keen awareness of the power of dreams, he made it a practice to keep a record of the ideas that emerged during his slumber.

14. You only dream about faces you've actually seen

If you think who on earth is that in my dream...you will have seen their faces, whether its someone you know or someone you've walked past in the street. Each and every day we see hundreds of people walk past us in the streets and their faces are easily forgotten - except in our sleep.
image source: Reddit
In the midst of a dream, when you find yourself questioning the identity of a person appearing before you, rest assured that their face is not a creation of whimsy. Instead, it's a mosaic woven from the countless moments of visual input your eyes have absorbed.

15. Longer dreams occur in the morning

Experts think that morning dreams are easier to remember because their happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of our sleep. Your brain processes emotions and experiences during the REM phase and organises them into our long-term memories.
image source: Reddit
The prominence of morning dreams in our memory can be attributed to the unique characteristics of REM sleep. As the brain engages in this heightened state of activity, dreams become more elaborate, immersive, and, notably, easier to recall upon waking.

16. Your muscles are paralysed when you're in REM

Have you ever noticed your partner twitch, make funny movements or shout out in their sleep in the middle of the night? Well, when you're in the rapid eye movement stage of dreaming your muscles become paralysed to prevent you from acting out in your dreams so this won't happen then.
image source: Reddit 
As the mind delves into the intricate narratives of dreams during REM sleep, a remarkable defense mechanism comes into play. The body, recognizing the immersive nature of these dream scenarios, enacts a temporary paralysis of skeletal muscles. This strategic immobilization serves a crucial purpose.

17. Recurring dreams have themes

Recurring dreams are a thing, especially in children and the most common ones are confrontations with animals and monsters, physical aggressions, falling and being chased. People who remember their dreams often dream about falling when they're in the REM part of their sleep.
image source: BuzzFeed News
These recurring dream themes serve as portals into the labyrinthine corridors of the subconscious, offering a glimpse into the mind's attempt to grapple with the complexities of human experience. These recurring motifs become threads woven into the fabric of our nightly narratives.

18. Strange dreams are completely normal

Ever felt like you're a bit of a weirdo because of the dreams you have? Well, it might put your mind at ease to hear that strange dreams are actually completely normal. The weirder the better...joking! But really, those out there dreams that have you waking up thinking WTF are very common and normal.
image source: Reddit 
The peculiar nature of dreams can be attributed to the dynamic interplay between various factors, including personal experiences, emotions, memories, and the intricate workings of the subconscious mind. Dreams serve as a canvas for the mind to process, consolidate, and explore.

19. Low stress = Happy dreams

Most people dreams about emotions like anxiety, guilt and sadness, however, if you're feeling very settled, happy and unstressed you might find that you have very pleasant dreams because of how satisfied you are in your life at that present moment.
image source: Reddit 
The absence of stress and the presence of happiness create a fertile ground for pleasant dreams to flourish. The mind, unburdened by the weight of stress, navigates the dream terrain with a sense of lightness and optimism, allowing the dreamer to revel in the positive emotions.

20. Morning wood has nothing to do with s*x dreams

Morning wood has nothing to do with having s*xual dreams or stimulation. Nocturnal penile tumescence is what causes men to have three to five erections every night with some lasting as long at 30 minutes at a time. This explains why they wake up with a pointy end most mornings!
image source: Women's health 
Nocturnal penile tumescence involves spontaneous er*ctions that occur during the night, often accompanied by a rise in penile blood flow. It's a perfectly normal physiological response, and these er*ctions typically happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep.

21. Wet dreams...

Men aren't actually the ones who have wet dreams, women can release secretions from arousal and orgasm whilst they're having a sexual dreams. S*x dreams can often lead to some sleepy time spoonage which then leading to a bit of forking...who can complain about that?! 
image source: LinkedIn 
Wet dreams, also known as nocturnal emissions, are not exclusive to men; indeed, women can also experience a release of secretions during s*xual dreams. Contrary to the misconception that associates wet dreams solely with males, the phenomenon transcends gender boundaries.

22. Women tend to dream a lot about celebrities

We already know that men and women dream differently to each other but studies have shown that women are actually twice as likely to dream/have a s*x dream about public figures compared to men - which may come as a bit of a surprise to you!
image source: Us Weekly 
The prevalence of s*xual dreams featuring public figures doesn't necessarily imply a personal attraction to these celebrities but may be a manifestation of the mind's ability to weave fantasies that draw from the cultural reservoir of images and influences.

23. Nightmares occur at a similar time of the night

Ever wondered why you always remember your nightmares? Or why you wake up feeling a bit weird after a scary dream. Well, a lot of people don't know that nightmares actually happen at a similar time of the night each night, frequently occurring in the last third of the night.
image source: Reddit 
As the night progresses, the duration of REM sleep, where dreams are most vivid and intense, tends to extend, peaking during the final stages of the sleep cycle. It is during these later REM cycles, occurring in the early morning hours, that nightmares are more likely to manifest.

24. Your feelings come out in dreams

You're most likely to experience negative dreams about lost loved ones if you're suffering from post traumatic symptoms, guilt or if you're blaming yourself over their death. This often plays out in your dreams, particularly because those feelings are so strong. 
image source: Pinterest 
Dreams offer a unique gateway for the mind to process and grapple with the complex emotions associated with loss. When individuals are grappling with post-traumatic stress, guilt, or self-blame related to the death of a loved one, these intense feelings can seep into the dream narratives.

25. Eating late definitely doesn't help with things

We've all heard about how cheese can give you nightmares, which technically is a myth BUT eating late can definitely cause you to have weirder dreams. Eating before bed increases your metabolism which signals your brain to be more active equalling in weird dreams.
image source: Reddit 
As the body works to metabolize the late-night snack, various physiological changes occur. Elevated metabolism is associated with increased body temperature, which, in turn, can influence the brain's activity during sleep. The brain is sensitive to changes in temperature, too.

26. We dream a lot throughout the night

Most of us struggle to even remember one of our dreams the morning after but people actually dream a lot throughout the night and people over the age of 10 tend to have at least four to six dreams each night. We just don't remember them annoyingly!
image source: Reddit 
The majority of dreaming occurs during the REM stage, characterized by heightened brain activity, vivid imagery, and increased physiological responses. Throughout the night, individuals cycle through multiple REM and non-REM stages, providing ample opportunities for the mind to explore.

27. Sudden movements aren't in your imagination

Hypnic jerks can really make you jump out of your skin, the sudden jolts or feeling of falling that occurs right before you go to sleep isn't in your imagination. You do actually jump and wake yourself up and can happen more often when you're under emotional stress.
image source: anomalien.com
Hypnic jerks, sometimes colloquially referred to as "sleep starts" or "hypnagogic jerks," occur during the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. As the body relaxes and the mind begins to detach from conscious awareness, the sudden jolts or muscle contractions can manifest.

28. Why do we dream?

Ahhhh, the question we've all been asking since the beginning of time...well, you won't be happy to know that even researchers and scientists don't know why we dream or what the purpose of it serves, if any! Maybe we're all just overthinking it all...?
image source: Reddit 
Evolutionary theories posit that dreaming may have had survival benefits for our ancestors. The act of simulating threatening situations in the dreamworld could have served as a form of rehearsal, allowing individuals to better respond to challenges and threats in waking life.

29. Tooth dreams might have a bigger meaning - but not death

Many people dream about their teeth falling out which could be caused by an undiagnosed dental irritation like bruxism. Folklore says that it's a premonition of death but that has been scrapped and turned to myth in recent times. Of course, if you're having tooth discomfort, you're more likely to dream about teeth.
image source: Reddit 
The link between dental discomfort and dreams about teeth falling out highlights the interconnectedness of the mind and body. Physical sensations, whether consciously or subconsciously perceived, can find expression in the symbolic language of dreams.

30. The deeper the sleep, the more vivid the dreams

Most people are likely to experience the more bizarre dreams during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage. Adults spend around 25% of their sleep time in REM sleep which is why vivid dreams can occur multiple times throughout the night and why you don't have just one.
imagesource: Reddit 
In essence, the correlation between the depth of sleep and the vividness of dreams underscores the intricate dance between the sleep stages and the mind's capacity for creativity during the night. As individuals navigate the cycles of sleep, the dreamworld unfolds.

31. There are things you can do to try and influence what you dream about

Most people believe that dreams have a mind of their own in terms of a person going to sleep and having no clue what their mind is going to make up for the evening! But there's actually plenty of ways you can influence what you dream about, starting with what you do and what you think.
image source: reddit.com
Take time during waking hours to reflect on your thoughts. Emotional or unresolved issues may find expression in dreams, and mindful reflection can help process. Ensuring a good night's sleep through proper sleep hygiene practices contributes to overall dream quality.

32. It's a myth that dreams don't mean anything because they're so nonsensical

Let's be honest, dreams are crazy weird. It's easy to dismiss them as nonsense when you wake up wondering why a three-eyed monster made you a cup of tea and then pushed you off a cliff. But every little thing in your dream will mean something, even if it's simple.
image source: reddit.com
Dreams often communicate through symbols and metaphors, using the language of the subconscious mind. Objects, people, and scenarios in dreams may represent deeper, personal meanings that reflect one's experiences, fears, or aspirations. Dreams provide a platform for the processing of emotions.

33. Different people from history have believed dreams to mean different things

There have been so many understandings and theories about what dreams are, and what they mean. Ancient civilisations thought that dreams were a way for ancestors to connect and send messages. Educated people, like Freud, began to think dreams were things you'd repressed.
image source: encyclopediabritannica.com
The kaleidoscope of beliefs and theories about dreams across history reflects humanity's enduring fascination with this mysterious realm. From divine messengers to subconscious whispers, the interpretations of dreams have evolved, leaving an indelible imprint.

34. You're more likely to remember your dreams if you sleep better: it's a myth!

It's logical to think the deeper and healthier you sleep, the more advanced and in-depth your dreams might be - and therefore you're more likely to remember them - but that's not the case. Being able to remember your dreams doesn't have anything to do with getting a bad or good night's sleep.
image source: reddit.com
In essence, the ability to remember dreams is a multifaceted interplay of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors. While the depth and health of sleep contribute to overall well-being, dream recall is a unique and individualized aspect of the sleep-dream experience.

35. It's not true that if you stay up late, you'll dream less

You might think if you've gone to bed at 3am after a drunk night out only to get up at 6am for work, there's no way you'll fit a decent dream in during that amount of time - but that's not true! You're still likely to have a dream - or even a nightmare - and a vivid one at that.
image source: reddit.com
The belief that staying up late or having limited sleep time diminishes the occurrence of dreams is debunked by the intricacies of sleep architecture and the resilience of the dreaming mind. The vividness and frequency of dreams are influenced by a myriad of factors.

36. People who stay up late are actually more likely to get nightmares

There have actually been studies that suggest people who go to bed late are more likely to get nightmares compared to people who get an early night. If you know you've got work early in the morning, too, maybe this is your subconscious panicking about how tired you're going to be.
image source: reddit.com
Staying up late may contribute to overall sleep deprivation, as individuals often sacrifice sleep duration for extended wakefulness. Sleep-deprived states can alter the balance of neurotransmitters and hormones, potentially influencing dream content and increasing the likelihood of unsettling dreams.

37. It's a myth that only children get night terrors

Night terrors is something you definitely associate with children - especially if horror movies are anything to go by when you see the 5-year-old in their bed screaming about something. But adults can get night terrors, too - in fact, anyone of any age can get them!
image source: yahoolifeuk.com
While night terrors can be distressing, especially for children and their caregivers, they often diminish with age. For adults experiencing persistent night terrors, addressing underlying causes such as stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders is crucial. Improving sleep hygiene can reduce the risk of night terrors.

38. But night terrors are more common in children

While it's definitely possible for adults to get night terrors, that doesn't change the fact they are, to be fair, more common in children. This might be down to the fact of children's over-active imagination or being more easily scared of things, like lights being off and things under the bed!
image source: reddit.com
The sleep architecture of children differs from that of adults. Children spend a significant portion of their sleep in deep non-REM (NREM) sleep during the first half of the night. Night terrors often occur during transitions between sleep stages, and the prevalence of deep sleep in children may contribute.

39. You do dream every night

People who don't usually remember their dreams are quick to say that they haven't dreamed at all - but everyone dreams, and everyone dreams every single night. It's just that you can't always remember what you've dreamt! Your brains are always active when you sleep.
image source: reddit.com
The exact functions of dreaming remain a subject of scientific inquiry, but theories propose that dreaming may contribute to memory consolidation, emotional processing, and problem-solving. The brain's activity during dreaming is believed to serve important cognitive and emotional functions.

40. Your brain really does have your back, even when you're asleep

It's actually amazing that you and your brain are wired to not act out your dreams - so your brain does really have your back when you're not awake, to make sure it's still keeping you safe and you're not acting out anything that could put you or other people in danger.
image source: reddit.com
The brain's intricate control over muscle activity during REM sleep is a remarkable example of the body's self-regulation to ensure safety and well-being. This protective mechanism, designed to prevent the enactment of dreams, underscores the adaptive nature of the sleep-wake cycle.

41. Part of your brain shuts down when you sleep

Although your brain is working extra hard to make sure you don't act out your dreams, a part of it actually does shut down during sleep. The front of your brain, which controls how you process the world when you're awake, is the part that shuts down.
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While some areas of the brain, including the frontal cortex, exhibit reduced activity during certain sleep stages, other regions remain active. These active areas play essential roles in maintaining basic physiological functions, regulating body temperature, and processing internal signals.

42. You'll probably dream about things that have happened the past one or two days

Dreams usually crop up from very recent experiences, and this will usually be things that have happened in the past day or two before you dream about them. You might be surprised at this seeing as you can have a random dream about someone you used to know.
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While dreams can indeed be influenced by recent experiences, the dreaming mind is dynamic and can incorporate a wide range of elements, including memories from the past and symbolic representations. Personal factors can influence the content and frequency of dreams.

43. So you might wonder why you're dreaming about someone you knew ten years ago

A lot of dreams can have you dreaming about someone you knew a long, long time ago, like an ex, or maybe an old job you used to work - so you might wonder how this relates to recent experiences. But it might be that you've seen or done something in the past few days that reminded you of that/them.
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Dreaming about people or events from the distant past is a complex interplay of memory, emotion, symbolism, and the mind's natural inclination to process and integrate experiences. While recent triggers may be involved, the dream content often goes beyond a straightforward replay.

44. We think in ideas, we dream in pictures

Dreams are mainly visual experiences, and you usually do dream mainly in pictures. When you're awake, your brain is processing things in ideas or concepts - but when we dream, it's all visual in pictures. Very few dreams have too much sound or movement rather than pictures.
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While dreams may lack the linear and logical structure of waking thoughts, they often present a narrative flow through a sequence of visual scenes. The dreamer may transition from one visual scenario to another, creating a unique storyline shaped by the mind's associative and creative processes.

45. Color is actually only in about 33% of dreams

You're trying to think of your last dream now, aren't you? And how much color it had in it! You're probably thinking to yourself that you've definitely dreamed in color, but it's hard to recall. That isn't to say you dream in full black and white, but color is actually in only about one third of all dreams you have.
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Some individuals consistently report vibrant and colorful dreams, while others may describe a more muted or monochromatic dream experience. While dreams during REM sleep can include color, the extent to which color is experienced may vary among individuals.

46. Lucid dreaming versus astral projection

Although they're similar, there are some key differences: lucid dreaming, as mentioned, is when you go to sleep and then have some control over what you're dreaming. Astral projection is an out-of-body experience that can happen when you're conscious and awake.
image source: geneticliteracyproject.org
Lucid dreamers can exert some control over the dream environment and their actions within the dream. This may include shaping the dream narrative, flying, or interacting with dream characters. Astral projectors may describe a sense of floating or flying outside the body.

47. If you learn to control your dreams, you can have less nightmares

Lucid dreaming and controlling your dreams isn't just about the topic you want to dream about, or your actions in your dream. You can actually have some control over the tone of your dream, so that you can make it less scary for you and tone-down any nightmares you might be having!
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Various techniques, such as reality checks, keeping dream journals, and setting dream intentions before sleep, can be employed to increase the likelihood of experiencing lucid dreams. These practices contribute to improved dream recall and self-awareness during the dream state.

48. And some people learn lucid dreaming for that reason

If you're someone who has really awful nightmares all of the time, it makes sense why you would want to learn lucid dreaming in order to better control them. This can be done if you keep track of what scary dreams you're having, and why they scare you, so you can plan.
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By intentionally altering the course of nightmares, individuals can reprogram their subconscious responses to specific triggers. Positive and empowering experiences within lucid dreams can gradually reshape the emotional associations with previously frightening scenarios.

49. Some people consider dreaming as a form of therapy

When you're feeling really stressed about something and you're dwelling on it, or perhaps even pushing it to the back of your mind so you don't have to think about it, dreaming can sometimes help you sort through troubling thoughts. Some people might wake up knowing exactly the solution to their problem.
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Practicing lucid dreaming techniques allows individuals to actively engage with and direct the content of their dreams. This form of dream control can be used as a therapeutic tool for confronting fears, rehearsing positive outcomes, and facilitating emotional healing.

50. There is no evidence to suggest dreams do have messages in them

While a lot of people believe that dreaming can carry important messages - whether from ancestors, deceased loved ones or even through spirit guides - there is no evidence to definitely prove this. But with most things spiritual, it's all about what you believe rather than what can be proven!
image source: reddit.com
The belief in dreams as messengers is a deeply personal and culturally influenced perspective that extends beyond scientific validation. While dreams hold immense psychological and cultural importance, their interpretation as messages often relies on individual beliefs.