Animal Dreams

Animal Dreams

This is Angel taking over my bed. Sometimes when she’s sleeping she starts to move her paws and make strange sounds that resemble barking a little bit. There’s no doubt that she’s having dog dreams, and I’ve always been so curious as to what her dreams are like.

Is she dreaming about barking at mailmen/ dog neighbors? Maybe about eating meals out of never ending bowls of food? Do dogs have nightmares? Does she have nightmares where she’s given a bath by anyone other than dad? Is her facial recognition enough to recreate our faces in her dreams? Is her brain able to incorporate commands into her dreams? Are the dreams based more on smells rather than visuals like our dreams? Is it in color? What other animals dream? Do hummingbirds dream? What do rabbits dream about? If a sea creature had experienced being caught by a fisherman and returned to sea, can it dream about that? Do animals that live longer have a wider range of dreams? Do they dream about their families? Do they ever remember their dreams upon waking up? Does it affect their behavior while they’re awake? Is there a reason that dreams seem to be pretty widespread among mammals? Were our dreams more similar to other mammals’ before we started to speak and became more civilized?

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. We don’t have too much control over what we dream about, and we’re pretty much forced to participate in whatever scenario that unfolds in our minds. They can make us feel so much, and yet are also easy to forget. There are dreams that are recurring and you swear that they must have a deeper meaning behind them but they just might not. Some dreams are so shocking that you remember it for years after. Some dreams are so happy/sad that it affects the rest of your day. I like that the possibilities of dreams are endless. You can be in a different place in the world, another time period, or a totally different being altogether. You can dream about people that have passed away, people you can’t meet up with in real life, people who don’t exist. You can act in a way you usually wouldn’t. You can dream in different languages (I increasingly dreamed in English and less in Japanese the longer I lived in the U.S.). There can be made up objects, places, languages, time scales. It can be illogical and confusing. Sometimes you can tell you’re dreaming, other times you’re convinced it’s real. Sometimes you can incorporate sounds you’re actually hearing into the current dream.

Dreams are like movies except you don’t choose them, it’s free, you always watch alone, you’re forced to watch it, you never know how long they actually are, you’re often taking part in them and they’re so vivid that your body can have physical reactions while you’re sleeping.

There was a summer when I used to write down everything I dreamed about right when I woke up, which was when I remembered the most. Everything from where I was, who I interacted with, how I felt, to how the scene changed abruptly and any transformations that occurred. It was a painstaking task, because “a picture is worth a thousand words” and a whole dream that usually made no sense logically took tens of pages at a time to delineate. I tried to figure out why I had certain dreams and where the inspiration came from. I listed the possible sources, and sometimes it would surprise me how random events from the past seemed to pop up out of nowhere, even when the awake-me hadn’t even thought about the events in years.

Although I would like to know more about dreams and their importance, I also like the mysterious aspect of them a lot. Rather than knowing exactly what dreams are, what I would appreciate even more would be an invention that allows someone to share their dream with others, because describing a dream is almost impossible. I wonder if there will be a time in the future when people will be able to use their dreams to their benefit, perhaps being able to watch whatever type of dream you choose, or even study during sleep, which could maybe somehow be helpful in the same way that studying right before you sleep helps to store the material into long term memory. Or a machine that allows tandem dreams so two or more people can participate in the same dream. Until that happens, I guess Angel and I will have to dream about eating never ending meals separately.

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