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How people who are blind dream

How Do Blind People Dream?

If our dreams are a reflection of reality, how does someone who experiences a different reality dream?

A new study published in the journal Sleep Medicine focused on how the blind dream. For sighted people, dreaming is primarily a visual activity: you remember images. But if you don't have the sense of sight, other sensory information--the information you rely on the most-- takes the lead.

The researchers looked at groups of people who were blind from birth (or congenitally blind), those who became blind later in life, and those who can see. Immediately after a dream, they were asked about their sensory experiences -- (What did you see? Did you taste anything?) -- as well as how they felt emotionally in the dream. They were also asked if there were any themes, like falling, or being able to fly.

Amongst the blind participants, most of the content in their dreams was made up of things they heard. 86 percent of participants experienced sounds and voices, as opposed to 64 percent of the sighted group.

The scientists basically said that the longer the person was able to see during their life, the more visual content there was in the dreams. The blind also experienced more sensations of touch in their dreams -- 70 percent versus 45 percent of the seeing group. The blind were also much more likely to taste and smell than the seeing group.

In terms of emotional and thematic content, all the groups reported similar results, but the congenitally blind group did stand out for having frequent nightmares. They were 4 times more likely to report nightmares than the late onset blindness and seeing groups.

Why might those who are congenitally blind have more nightmares than everyone else? The scientists aren't sure, but they have a theory. Nightmares are one way that our brains process and cope with threats to our safety, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the blind tended to have nightmares about things like getting hit by a car, getting lost or losing a guide dog. It's unclear if this means that the blind experience more fear overall in their lives, generally speaking.

What do you dream about? Tell us in the comments below.

Join the discussion

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coopdabomb June 23 2014 at 6:21 AM

I have some better questions. Where are the MISSING IRS emails and computers? Why are the low lifes at GITMO and illegals getting better health care than our VETS? Last but not least why did osma obama trade 5 terrorists for 1 deserter.

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jvt1984 June 23 2014 at 7:38 AM

I don't dream about much anymore, but when I was younger, if I ate watermelon before I went to sleep I usually dreamed that I was wetting the bed, and I usually was!!!!!

My dog must dream he is running or swimming because he moves his feet in running motions. He makes some kinds of grunting noises in his sleep, and he likes to sleep on my feet and gets grumpy if I wake him up. Sweet dreams? I don't know about that.

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savannahswithgod jvt1984 June 23 2014 at 1:28 PM

You probably dream you just don't remember. Get a book on lucid dreaming, mn Savannah (1970-1994/July ) got ahold of me in November of that year and in time it should change Religion! Then in 2000 she rocked me in my bed, not a dream though those I tell say it was!

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Hollow318 June 23 2014 at 8:34 AM

I have vivid dreams and a occasional nightmare, but nothing like my boyfriend. He screams out in his sleep: "HEY, GET OUT'TA THERE.....HEY....STOP THAT...."
and other awful sounds. In the morning he sometimes remember the dream, most times not. A few times he got out of bed to chase 'someone' out of his room, only to slam into a bureau. That woke him up. When I first heard him screaming it scared the life ou'ta me. yikes!!! Still does.

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micah68s Hollow318 June 23 2014 at 12:11 PM

My husband has this same sleep behavior. It was diagnosed as "Severe Sleep Disturbance Behavior" and we were advised to sleep in separate bedrooms for my safety because he had no control over his actions while sleeping.

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savannahswithgod Hollow318 June 23 2014 at 1:17 PM

Well tell him to when he wakes up to try and remember his dreams and write them down to establish a routine to promote the advancement. I would think that scary stuff is some guilt he has which could be hidden but in dreams it sneaks out. Tell him everything is a challenge even if Satan gets ahold of his butt? I really don't believe in a Satan but then the Lord 'has his secrets to keep'. I had a weight holding me down on my shoulders for the longest time, scary. Finally broke through that and seemed to go up to where a professor was not nothing evil but the Lord in my view not wanting me to get there. Later the Lord arrived. Tell him the Lord is out here and he is okay, there is nothing to fear as his soul being taken away, it belongs to the Lord. Tell him to search for that guilt, might be able to figure it out and that will help? That guilt may not be even from this incarnation he is in, could be from a past life and it could be as simple as maybe hitting a pet when he was young.

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kent_hern June 23 2014 at 10:30 AM

Do schizophrenic deaf people 'hear' voices?

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hsenpfeffer kent_hern June 23 2014 at 10:58 AM

That is an interesting question.

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savannahswithgod kent_hern June 23 2014 at 1:19 PM

The shrink asked me if like when I watch TV as if that was talking to me personally. I have heard maybe 10 words over a 30 year period. The Lord also made my pillow meow a few times when talking to him about 'taking care of the kitties on the basement steps'.

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fernerobin June 23 2014 at 11:09 AM

Actually, many dreams are fragments from previous 'earth suits' we have had. The soul is eternal and belongs to God (and goes home to Him) but this spirit must wear many, many earth suits (animal bodies) and experience countless lives...'going to school' in this world. We see those previous lives 'through a glass darkly'. If we were fully conscious of them we woud go crazy...so we only experience them in tiny fragments (if at all)...such as dreams, deja vue, people we meed that we 'know' we have known before...etc. Everyone has experienced these feelings. Blind people have certianly not been blind in previous earth suits...hence dreams of things they have never 'experienced' in this life. This is NOT eastern mysticism, or Hindoo style karma...just God's reuse of our eternal soul...sending us to school to try to see His ways.

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Lorenzo Alvar June 23 2014 at 3:23 PM

Mine are always recurring and essentially the same historic venue. I am a gunnersmate seated behind the sights of a pair of large 40mm Ack-Ack guns with barrels up as I scan the horizon and near reaches of sky. It is 1942, and I seem to be on a low-slung Navy fast-attack destroyer that is locked in deadky battle as it fends off aerial attacks from an unseen enemy. It is also an enemy that seems to just keep coming and coming in wave after wave of sweeping attacks on our ship. I am firing furiously, and it is always the large empty shell casings being ejected and kicked back out of the large gun slamming down onto the deck that then wakes me up. So what's with this kind of dream? I only ask because I never served in WW II and was in fact born in 1948! Very unusual ...

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savannahswithgod June 23 2014 at 1:08 PM

Let's see. I dreamed about a message from the Lord to change a symbol from a heart shape to the letter 'Y' in a metaphysical routine I was doing in reality. So I woke up and did that then went to pray and then the Lord arrived telling me to 'call him Lord', that was in 2005. The Lord has arrived. His book is in the Clouds and all are to be reincarnated/have! Not sure on the Heaven or Hell. No penalties have I heard from the Lord. I dream all the time, write down a lot plus have visions as the book in the Clouds. Hear a few words out of the Blue over 30 years and had porn star Savannah 6 years after her death rock me in my bed as a mother would rock her baby, later in the year my Mother dying of Cancer and lung problems. A dream a lot think, me not. When I was a teen I use to rock myself to sleep. Wish the Lord would let them cure the Blind! I need a fan running or something making a routine sound to help me go to sleep.

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Ray June 23 2014 at 11:48 AM

Interesting study. Question, do color blind people dream in black and white only? Do the deaf communicate in their dreams in sign language? Do the mute dream of sounds of other things? WE MUST KNOW THESE THINGS PEOPLE!!!!

I have my weirdest dreams when I go to bed after eating a Poppa Johns meat lover’s pizza. When I fall asleep, dude, I’ve been living in a yellow submarine for a long time.

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Ray Ray June 23 2014 at 11:51 AM

Excuse that's Pappa Johns.

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Ray Ray June 23 2014 at 11:52 AM

With one P, I'm dreaming right now!!

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savannahswithgod Ray June 23 2014 at 1:36 PM

Your lining John up with John Lennon and the Yellow Sub. Lennon was in a dream with me playing a song I had wrote called 'children of the world', save the kids song. I had to turn the guitar so John could see the chords I was playing. In the dream John had a daughter who called John 'Cal'. I've dreamed as playing as with the Beatles, I love them and write some songs in that vein probably the best called 'Blind to one who cares'! Fits this article column. Plus I am a great dreamer, lucid dreamer and a little on the Astral Projection. Don't let nothing close your mind down as Books or other peoples views!

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leontherat June 23 2014 at 11:16 AM

it is funny when ik have puppies here and even before their eyes are open and can see anything they will be dreaming and doing the dream barking and it always makes me laugh because they have not seen anything but the back of their eyelids to this point. makes you wonder what their mind is telling them even before they know anything beyond the ability to suck a teet.

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savannahswithgod leontherat June 23 2014 at 1:31 PM

A past life chasing little kitties and running through the meat shop chasing the butcher out the door. That teet ******* is inherent for us All!

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songdragon99 June 23 2014 at 11:10 AM

My husband is deaf and often times I'll ask him if he has hearing in his dreams and he says yes. He was deaf at birth and has only heard a little due to hearing aids when he was a kid. But the were an encumbrance, so he ditched them and never looked back. He says he dreams with hearing all the time.

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