Perception

Does everyone dream in color?
Answered by Diana Bocco
  • Diana Bocco

    Diana Bocco

  1. Experts believe everybody dreams, even those who rarely recall their dreams. Dreams happen during the rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep phase, which occurs several times throughout the night. This means every sleeper usually has two or three different dreams each night. People who have trained themselves to remember dreams (by keeping a dream journal or talking about their dreams as soon as they wake up, for example) are more likely to remember specific details about their dreams. Sounds, events and colors are just some of those details.

    In the past, experts believed our dreams were always in black and white, but current research seems to support the idea that most people dream in color. That doesn't mean everything in a dream is colorful. In fact, research suggests that about 83 percent of our dreams are in color [source: New Scientist]. This leaves a shocking 17 percent of dreams playing in black and white. If that seems like a big number, keep in mind that the distribution might vary based on age. A 2008 study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition showed that people who grew up watching black-and-white films and TV are more likely to dream in black and white, but people who grew up with color TV are more likely to dream in color [source: University of Dundee]. Dreamers in the younger generations, who grew up surrounded by color media, are more likely to dream in color than their relatives over age 55 (who were more likely to watch plenty of black-and-white films or television).

    Your relation to color while awake also has an effect on your dreams. Experts believe that people who are very aware of color during their waking lives also are more likely to remember colors from their dreams. So painters, interior decorators, designers and other visual artists might recall specific color details from their dreams that others of us would fail to notice. Because of this, some people might wake up and think their dreams were color-free, when in reality, the sleepers simply didn't pay attention to colors during their dreams and don't remember them.


    Young Woman Asleep on Bed (Adri Berger/Getty Images)

     

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