Dear 100 Hour Board,
How often does the average adult have dreams that they remember? How often does the average adult have nightmares? What are the most common themes of dreams? If there isn’t readily available research on this (or if you don’t have time to research it), feel free to use your personal experience to answer.
How often does the average adult have dreams that they remember?
It depends on the adult. I love trying to remember all of my dreams. (Also pregnant people tend to have really vivid dreams.) I try to recount them to Carl if they're entertaining so I can remember them later on in the day and maybe blog about them. About every other morning I remember the dream that I had. I think Carl only remembers his nightmares, or the dreams that I wake him up during since he's flailing all over the bed and it wakes me up.
Then there are other people who don't care about their dreams and don't think about them after they wake up. Board Question #78067 links you to two good articles why some people remember dreams better than others, and that the blood flow to your brain is an important factor to remembering dreams.
How often does the average adult have nightmares?
I did some digging and I found this article about nightmares. Healthline reports that "over 50 percent of adults report having occasional nightmares. However, some people have nightmares that occur more frequently."
The article also lists 5 potential causes of nightmares:
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Underlying medical conditioners
- Substance abuse
(I, for one have had three unpleasant dreams this week due to stress.)
I didn't think that 'occasionally' was good enough, and found a study on nightmares from New York Times in 1996.
"In a study in which 220 men and women kept logs of their dreams for two weeks, Dr. Wood found that the number of nightmares ranged from none to 10 in the period, and that the average was about one. Previous studies of the frequency of nightmares had found an average of one every five weeks or so. But the earlier studies had simply asked people to estimate the number of nightmares they had in the last year, rather than ask them to keep track daily."
Later on in the article, they asked college students how many nightmares they had in one year, and the average was 9. Must be all those tests they're taking!
Plot twist: "The college students who recalled an average of nine a year reported a much higher average, 24 a year, when they kept logs each day."
What are the most common themes of dreams?
I used to be obsessed with trying to figure out what certain dreams meant by going to dream dictionaries online and typing in key words. (Spoiler alert: it was basically bogus.)
But Dream Moods (the first website that pops up when you search "dream dictionary") had a section for common dreams: