3 Things Your Dreams May Reveal About You
Are extroverts extroverted in their dreams?
Posted Dec 31, 2016
“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious,” Sigmund Freud famously wrote in The Interpretation of Dreams. Even before he made this proclamation in 1899, researchers have studied the nature of dreams and their meaning for both our waking and sleeping lives. Such efforts have revealed a role in unconscious conflict, as Freud proposed, and in other aspects of our psychology.
Here are just three surprising things your dreams can reveal about you:
Research suggests that our personality traits are related to the content of our dreams. A study investigating this question with particular respect to extraversion argued that if there is indeed continuity between our waking and dreaming lives, as is widely believed, then an association between extraversion and dreams should exist. To test the hypothesis, researchers had participants keep a dream diary for two weeks, and complete questionnaires concerning their socio-demographic background, dream recall frequency, and the personality trait of extraversion. As the investigators predicted, extraverted people reported greater extraversion in their dreams, as well as more physical interactions and more positive emotions. The authors maintain that their results lend support for the continuity hypothesis of dreaming.
The relationship between dreaming and creativity has received substantial attention from researchers. Consider a study that investigated the relationship between creativity and lucid dreaming, which is when people are aware that they are dreaming and have the apparent ability to control certain aspects of their current dream. More specifically, the investigators sought to explore the relationship between lucid dreaming, creativity, and dream characteristics including aversive dream content, personal significance, dream recall, incorporation of daytime events, and great dreams. The researchers had 334 participants fill out various measures online. They found that lucid dreamers showed greater creativity and had higher dream recall frequency compared to non-lucid dreamers. Lucid dreamers also tended to integrate daytime events into their dreams, and had dreams of personal significance more than non-lucid dreamers.
The majority of women have sleep difficulties during pregnancy, and research supports that they have more disturbing dreams. In a study which examined disturbed dreaming in late pregnancy, researchers compared women in their third trimester of pregnancy to non-pregnant women, and had them complete questionnaires assessing their demographic background, anxiety, and depression. In addition, the women in this study prospectively completed a home log for two weeks in which they described up to three dreams per night and provided information about their sleep and dreams, distinguishing nightmares from bad dreams. What did the researchers find? Pregnant women have significantly more disturbed dreams than their non-pregnant peers. In addition, they are nearly three times more likely than non-pregnant women to have repeated disturbed dreams during the same night. But of particular concern, the frequency of nightmares among pregnant women, which is three times more than non-pregnant women, reflects moderate severe pathology, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The investigators suggest that waking up more during the night, as pregnant women tend to do, may trigger conditions that give rise to disturbed dreaming.
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Vinita Mehta, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C., and an expert on relationships, managing anxiety and stress, and building health and resilience. She provides speaking engagements for your organization and psychotherapy for adults. She has worked with individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, and life transitions, with a growing specialization in recovery from trauma and abuse. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, Paleo Love: How Our Stone Age Bodies Complicate Modern Relationships.
Disturbed dreaming during the third trimester of pregnancy. Jessica Lara-Carrasco, Valérie Simard, Kadia Saint-Onge, Vickie Lamoureux-Tremblay, Tore Nielsen. Sleep Medicine, 15(6), 2014.
Dreams and extraversion: A diary study. Nina König, Jonas Mathes, Michael Schredl. International journal of dream research 9, 2016.
Relationship between Lucid Dreaming, Creativity and Dream Charakteristics. Zink, Nicolas; Pietrowsky, Reinhard. International Journal of Dream Research 6(2):2013.