Most people who are sighted have vivid, full-color visions in their dreams. You’re more likely to perceive people, places, and things that look like they do in the actual world when you’re in a dream state. For some, the question of whether or not those who are blind see in their dreams has long been debated.
Neither yes nor no is an adequate response. In their dreams, some blind persons see vivid visual scenes, just like sighted people. Others report seeing a few visual pictures, but not full-fledged sceneries or narratives. While some academics argue the extent to which this is true, there are certain people who have no visual component to their dreams at all.
Find out more about the kind of dreams that blind people have, the impact that a person’s age at the time of their blindness has on their dreams, and whether or not they have nightmares.
What is a dream?
You can think of a dream as anything you are aware of while asleep, including thoughts, feelings, and experiences. During a dream, neurons (brain cells) in various sections of your brain fire at the same time, either randomly or in sync (when you experience the dreams that may go on for what feels like hours). Even smelling and feeling are a part of the brain’s many distinct functions.
As if some dreams persist for days, did you know that the average dream lasts between 5 and 20 minutes? Every night, you have between four and six dreams. As bizarre as that seems, it’s actually a good thing.
The deep sleep phase is when most of your dreams occur, and it is during this period that you are unable to recall them. You spend an average of six years dreaming throughout your entire life!
Types of Dreams
There are several types of ‘regular’ dreams, which can range from pleasant to downright weird. Many of them you might not recall.
Stress, lack of sleep, or seeing or reading something upsetting before bedtime can all lead to a frightening and distressing nightmare.
Lucid dreaming is a type of dreaming in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that they are dreaming. The ability to influence one’s dreams is beneficial for those who are plagued by night terrors and restless nights.
It’s not uncommon to wake up from a dream only to discover that you had been sleeping during the entire time. “False awakening” is a term for this.
Do Blind People Have Visual Dreams?
People who are visually impaired dream in different ways depending on when in their lives they were born blind. The visual content and sensory experiences of some blind people’s dreams are very similar to those of sighted people, whereas those of other blind individuals are considerably different.
The Congenitally Blind
When it comes to the dreams of the congenitally blind, or people who were born blind, researchers tend to disagree. Some specialists believe that persons who were born blind do not perceive visual content in their dreams, just as they do not see any visual content while they are waking. Some, on the other hand, strongly disagree.
Congenital blindness results in a lower number of eye movements during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep than in sighted individuals. It’s possible that persons with congenital blindness don’t have visual content in their dreams because most sophisticated dreaming occurs during the REM period and eye movements are thought to connect with visual dream content.
People who go blind later in life have fewer REM sleep eye movements, however this is not universally true. According to the theory that a lack of REM eye movements suggests a lack of visual dream content, these sleepers are experiencing visual content in their dreams. Sighted people’s REM eye movements may be linked to visual dreaming, whereas blind people’s REM eye movements do not appear to be.
Others have found that people who were born blind report having visual dreams. When they wake up, blind people can do the same as sighted people: they can draw some of the images from their dreams. In addition, their EEG activity during dreams they describe as visual is similar to sighted people’s EEG patterns during visual dreams.
Blind sleepers may have some visual material in their dreams, but it is likely to be far less than what sighted sleepers have. When there is no visual content, their minds appear to increase other sensory sensations. Congenitally blind people, for example, have more sensory aspects in their dreams than those who can see.
People Who Went Blind Before Ages Five to Seven
In comparison to people who were born blind, those who became blind as children have greater visual information in their dreams, but those who became blind later in life have less. People who go blind later in life may have more vivid dreams because of their increased exposure to visual imagery in their dreams, according to this theory.
Participants in blindness research studies are divided into age groups for the purposes of the investigations. People who lost their vision between the ages of five and seven are more likely to have vivid nightmares. Visual components in dreams can differ depending on how far along in development a person was when they lost their vision before the age of five or seven.
People Who Went Blind After Ages Five to Seven
After the ages of five to seven, those who are blind have a tendency to have visual dreams. However, they may not be able to see as much in their dreams as those who are sighted. As with those who became blind later in life, the absence of vision in dreams is typically compensated for by the presence of other senses such as touch, sound, and smell. For example, they are more likely than sighted persons to dream in which they have more tactile or physical feelings.
It’s not just familiar faces and locations that appear in the visual dreams of the blind. They see things that have come into their lives since they were blind in their dreams. A complete lack of vision shows that while we sleep, our minds create a whole new world rather than simply re-creating the one we’re already familiar with.
What Are Dreams Like for Blind People?
Both blind and sighted people go through the same phases of sleep, albeit blind persons may have fewer vivid dreams than their sighted counterparts. Both groups have dreams in which they are the protagonist, experiencing sensory sensations, and interacting with others in a similar way to how they do in real life.
The visual content of dreams for the blind is reduced, but other senses are heightened. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell are more vivid for the blind when they dream than for the sighted. In addition, blind persons are more prone than sighted people to experience specific types of nightmares. According to a recent study, those who are blind appear to have more nightmares and dreams regarding movement or travel.
Do Blind People Have Nightmares?
Nightmares are a common occurrence for both the blind and the sighted. According to one study, blind people are more likely to dream of travel nightmares. It’s possible that a few of these were nightmares in the making. When it comes to dreams, one theory suggests that their content mirrors the issues blind individuals encounter in the real world.
What do they dream about?
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. There is a good chance that they are a mix of things that don’t make sense, things that happen every day, and things that could be embarrassing.
When it comes to fantasies, blind folks aren’t that far off from the rest of us.
Over the course of two months in 1999, researchers analyzed the dreams of 15 blind persons. Blind people’s dreams appear to be mostly comparable to those of sighted people, with the following notable exceptions:
- Those who were blind reported fewer aspirations for personal success or failure in their daydreams.
- As a result, those who are blind are less prone to have violent fantasies in their dreams.
- Some blind persons appeared to dream more frequently of animals, notably their guide dogs.
- Dreams involving food and eating have been observed to be more frequent in blind people.
One of the findings from this study was the prevalence of nightmares including some kind of adversity. According to the study, blind persons dreamed twice as often as sighted people about travel or travel-related mishaps.
This suggests that, like sighted individuals, the experiences of blind people in their waking lives could be reflected in their dreams, such as worries about or difficulties travelling from one place to another.
Can they see their dreams?
Many people question how their dreams differ from one another. If you’re not blind, you may ask if blind individuals have visual dreams as well, as many sighted people do.
People who are born blind (congenital blindness) and those who become blind later in life are supposed to have less dreams with visual imagery than those who aren’t blind, according to several theories.
There is some evidence to show that children who are born blind do not see visuals in their dreams. People who lose their vision later in life are more prone to have visual dreams, according to this line of reasoning.
Researchers believe that those born blind are more prone to have sensory-rich dreams, which include sensory input from their senses other than vision. They had more tactile (touch) experiences in their dreams when they became blind later in life.
Do they have nightmares?
Just like the sighted, blind people experience nightmares. In fact, some studies suggest that the blind are more likely than the sighted to experience nightmares. Born blind people have additional challenges.
One explanation for the higher incidence of nightmares is that blind persons are more prone than sighted to suffer life-threatening situations.
Consider your own recurring nightmares; chances are they become more frequent (and distressing) when you’re under a lot of pressure or confronting something terrifying.
Things to keep in mind
Scientific research into the way blind individuals dream is quite limited, with a number of limitations. Small groups of persons were studied in these research, typically no more than 50.
There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for the material and pictures that appear in dreams, and limited studies can only provide a basic guideline for some people’s dreams.
For blind persons, it might be difficult to precisely describe their dreams, especially if they have had little or no exposure to sight.. A person who is blind has dreams that are very similar to yours in content. Simply said, they have a unique way of interpreting their dreams.
Visual Dreaming in Blind People
If you’ve ever had a lucid dream where you were able to see exactly what you were seeing, you’re not alone. Whether or not they are able to do so is primarily determined by the time period during which they lost their sight.
To the contrary, those who lost their sight before age five will have a greater tendency to have visual experiences in their dreams, suggesting that vision and cognition and memory merge at this age. These people’s visual images can be as real and distinct as those of sighted people.
People with late blindness, on the other hand, tend to lose the sharpness and color of their visual perceptions with time and, as a result, may only “see” in their dreams occasionally.
In spite of the lack of visual dreams for those who were born blind or acquired blindness early in life, many of them will experience spatial associations that allow them to build mental representations of persons and objects in various dimensions. Similar to how sighted people dream of time, place and people being “recognized” by them.
Emotional Intensity in Dreams
A person’s ability to feel particular emotions in a dream is not affected by their ability to see.
Those who were born blind are more likely to suffer from aggression and nightmares than their sighted peers, according to a 2014 study in Sleep Medicine.
A lack of ability to create mental representations that can assist the brain make sense of and process memories and sensations could be to blame. Dreams may become more disordered and dissociated if they lack a feeling of spatial connectedness.
Just as vivid and imaginative
It is impossible for sighted people to accumulate visual experiences, thus they have to rely only on their other senses to learn about the world around them. In the absence of visual stimuli, persons who were born blind have a unique ability to see and comprehend the world around them using their non-visual senses.
Since birth, those who are blind experience vivid and inventive dreams that are comparable to those of people with normal eyesight. Their dreams, on the other hand, are singular in that they are built from the sum of their non-visual encounters and memories.
Visual memories of shape, lighting, and color are used by people who have normal vision to associate a familiar acquaintance in their dreams, while a blind person will associate the same buddy with a unique blend of experiences from their non-visual senses.
People born blind have comparable overall dream experiences, but their dreams do not include visual imagery.
People who lose their vision later in life have extremely distinct dream experiences than those who never had vision. After losing their eyesight, people can still remember many visual events that can appear in their dreams and in a manner remarkably similar to sighted people.
Blind people, like everyone else, have dreams, even if they don’t remember them. Blind people’s dreams have been examined in several research. While useful, the findings have certain limitations.
Reach out to a member of the blind community or look up first-person tales online to get a more complete picture of how blind people dream.
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