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While it might sound odd, there are a lot of people who think that our dreams as a whole are something other than dreams. Sure, they are something we experience while we’re sleeping, but they are in the eyes of some more real than you might expect. 

A newer study from researchers at the Roma Tre University in Italy have published something on the topic recently, and it’s garnering a lot of attention, with good reason. This study suggests that our everyday lives impact our dreams, and that our dreams impact our everyday lives. Sure, that might sound simple, but it’s much deeper than it comes off as.

For this study, the researchers working on it analyzed dreams of a lot of people. They actually looked at over 20,000 dreams and well, the things they found were quite interesting. Looking into the DreamBank these researchers were able to test what is called the ‘continuity hypothesis.’ For those who might not be aware the ‘continuity hypothesis’ in regard to dreams is a hypothesis that suggests the content of our dreams are largely continuous with ‘waking concepts and concerns of the dreamer’ according to Psychology Today. 

The abstract of this study goes as follows and was published in The Royal Society Publishings:

Sleep scientists have shown that dreaming helps people improve their waking lives, and they have done so by developing sophisticated content analysis scales. Dream analysis entails time-consuming manual annotation of text. That is why dream reports have been recently mined with algorithms, and these algorithms focused on identifying emotions. In so doing, researchers have not tackled two main technical challenges though: (i) how to mine aspects of dream reports that research has found important, such as characters and interactions; and (ii) how to do so in a principled way grounded in the literature. To tackle these challenges, we designed a tool that automatically scores dream reports by operationalizing the widely used dream analysis scale by Hall and Van de Castle. We validated the tool’s effectiveness on hand-annotated dream reports (the average error is 0.24), scored 24 000 reports—far more than any previous study—and tested what sleep scientists call the ‘continuity hypothesis’ at this unprecedented scale: we found supporting evidence that dreams are a continuation of what happens in everyday life. Our results suggest that it is possible to quantify important aspects of dreams, making it possible to build technologies that bridge the current gap between real life and dreaming.

Through this research, it was noted that it seems as though dream reports do contain statistical markers that reflect things the dreamers likely experienced or went through in the real world/their real lives. It seems through this we could conclude that there is some kind of continuity between what we see in our dreams and what we go through here in our lives while we’re awake. Yes, more research will need to be done to break this down further, but it’s something we as human beings have thought to be true all along anyways for the most part. 

We often tend to try and analyze our dreams to see what they mean for us, and this just further proves why we should in some ways be doing exactly that. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who think dreams are just dreams and nothing more, but they could very well be so much more. That in itself is something we may someday come to realize. What do you think about these findings?