Do blind people dream? Haven’t you ever wondered or had this question pop into your mind? This seems to be a fascinating question because dreams are visual images of our daily life experiences and visual sensations, which blind people seem not to have. So how do blind people dream, or do they dream at all?
Here, we will further understand the question, ‘do blind people dream?’ with the help of scientific research and the experiences of certain blind people.
Well, the answer to the question is a yes. However, blind people’s visual dream content depends on certain factors, such as if they were born blind or became blind later in life.
So, it is more likely that a person who became blind later in life dreams in colors and has visual dreaming. In contrast, a person born blind may not be exactly seeing visual imagery in the dreams but have different dream experiences based on other senses.
1. Do Blind People Dream? – When do Dreams Occur?
For this question to be answered, understanding sleep a bit will help.
1.1. What is Sleep?
Sleep is a state where your awareness of the environment reduces. It is different from that coma, death, or hibernation and can be reversed rapidly.
There are certain stages of human sleep, namely “Rapid Eye Movement sleep” and the “Non-rapid eye movement sleep.” The dreams occur in the “Rapid eye movement” stage or the “REM” sleep. These sleep patterns exhibit unique characteristics when analyzed with an electroencephalogram or EEG.
During the REM sleep stage, people generally experience faster respiration, muscle relaxation, eye movements, and increased brain activity. Typical REM sleep allows a dreaming of about 2 hours. In this stage of human sleep, a person is in deep slumber, yet their EEG shows that their brain is awake, which is called a paradoxical state of sleep.
1.2. What are Dreams?
Before we further dig into the question ‘do blind people dream,’ we should know a little about dreams.
Dreams are nothing but a way for the brain to consolidate memories and derive some meaningful information from them. Our unconscious mind sometimes expresses its secret wishes and desires through the means of dreams.
According to researchers, it makes people review what they have already experienced or sometimes make connections between things experienced separately at different times. Speaking of dreams, here are the “Top 10 epic facts about dreams you didn’t know.”
2. What do Blind People Dream?
Blind people have experiences that differ from that of a sighted person. During waking life, the other senses of blind people tend to work more, such as the auditory, smell, and tactile. Therefore, as per this study, they also experience more of these senses than visual images in their dreams.
A post presents that the dreams of the blind are largely similar to that of sighted ones with fewer eye movements. The following points mark the difference between the dreams of blind and sighted individuals:
- They have frequent dreams about eating or food.
- Personal success or failure occupies less space in their dreams.
- They dream less about aggressive conversations.
- They also dream about animals, mainly their service dogs.
3. Some Blind People Can See Their Dreams
Yes, some blind people have visual dreams as well. Still, their capability to dream visually depends on factors such as if they became blind early in their lives due to some incident or at a later age and even their degree of blindness.
3.1. Congenitally Blind People
Congenitally blind people are the ones who are born blind. The popular opinion of the researchers is the dream slate of congenitally blind people is as clean as their waking lives slate.
People born blind tend to have fewer eye movements during their REM sleep stage than sighted people. As it is considered that these eye movements are responsible for visual dreams thus, congenitally blind people may not experience visual dreams.
Although upon research, scholars found that sighted individuals who lost their vision early or later in life also experienced lesser eye movements. They reported visual dream content, challenging the lesser eye movement hypothesis mentioned above. So it seems that these eye movements tend to correlate to visual dreams in sighted people but not in blind people’s dreams, regardless of when they lost their vision in life.
Here’s an interesting thing about the question ‘do blind people dream?’. EEG tracks electrical activity in the brain both while a person is awake and asleep. Some experts found that people with congenital blindness reported having visual dream content in their waking lives. They also had EEG alpha activity similar to sighted people while they dream visually.
Although it is no surprise that the visual content of blind people’s dreams will be much less than that of sighted people as their other senses work more. Congenitally blind people experience more auditory dreams, olfactory dreams, tactile dreams, and others.
3.2. People Who Went Blind Early in Life
Age is very important in determining the type of dreams blind people experience. People who lost their vision early in their childhood, before the age of five or seven, tend to have visual dream content more than blind people, i.e., the born blind people, but less than the ones who lost vision after the age of 5 or 7.
3.3. People Who Went Blind Later in Life
The late blind individuals, who lost sight of the world at the age of five to seven, tend to occupy a lot more graphical representation of the world than the congenitally blind. Therefore, they have more visual information and image source to visualize their dreams.
Although definitely, they have lesser image content than the sighted people. These people have dreams involving various physical sensations to compensate for this reduced visual dream content.
Blind people who encounter visual dreams do not just see things they observed before losing their sense of sight. They also have glimpses of things in their dreams that made their way into their lives after going blind.
The human brain is one fascinating thing. It can do many things we aren’t even aware of. We know the brain basics; its full capacity is yet to be discovered! So for someone with complete sight loss, it is impossible to have a visual image source of some things they experience in their life after being blind.
This is where our marvelous brain comes into the picture. The human brain of blind people lets them create an imaginary world of their own since they are not familiar with the existing one to be able to recreate it. Therefore, the question ‘do blind people dream?’ seems to have a positive answer.
4. Do Blind People Dream of Nightmares?
We have discovered that the content of blind people’s dreams is close to that of sighted people. They both have nightmares as well. Although the nightmare frequency of a blind person is much more than their sighted counterpart, the intensity of certain emotions varies.
According to a study published by Sleep medicine in 2014, people with congenital blindness tend to have higher nightmare frequency and aggressive dreams than sighted people and those who lost vision later in life.
4.1. What is the Reason for Experiencing More Nightmares?
There have been certain speculations about this nightmare aspect of the blind person’s dreams. Some research suggests that the most common dreading dream involves unfortunate events while traveling.
One reason for bad dreams could be the absence of mental images that make it easier to observe and process things. With only sounds, sense of touch, and other senses working more while they sleep, the dreams turn out to be a lot messier, incoherent, non-comprehensible, and chaotic, leading the blind person to have a bad sensory construction.
Another reason that has been suggested is that blind people have more frightening experiences in their daily lives than a person of normal sight. This is something we cannot deny. Indeed, a blind person has to face daily life with many more difficulties, which are not just physically challenging but emotionally too.
How blind people experience the world is very different, apart from the inability to see the beauty of daily life. They might even have to face some bullies who make fun of their neurological disorders, which may take a heavy toll on the person who already has to face so much in their life.
Thus, this seems a valid reason for the higher frequency of nightmares experienced by blind people. So as we sleep, we start dreaming about what we experience daily because that’s what dreams are. The born deaf are at par with the born blind in the nightmare situation.
A mother of a child born blind shares what her 11-year-old child dreams. She admits to the child having more aggressive dreams. In one of the dreams, the child finds himself falling and never landing. The other involves a situation where he is trapped between two large dogs that bark at him and sniff him while he swings. The boy fears that he will die.
However, not bad dreams are all that the boy dreams, the mother shares that he dreams a very pleasant dream of walking with his favorite teacher, whom he hasn’t had the chance to meet for a long time. So, according to her, blind people have dreams like sighted people, but they experience them more than they do.
On the other hand, a man who admits to being blind since birth says he experiences zero visual information. His dreams challenge the above-mentioned previous findings. He does not know what it “really” feels like. However, he doesn’t deny that other blind people could see in their dreams.
5. Do Blind People Dream? – Overview
Blind individuals dream just like anyone else, even if they don’t remember it. Many investigations have been made into how blind individuals dream, and the results have been useful.
The content and visuals that may appear in dreams vary greatly from person to person. Since there are undoubtedly some restrictions for blind people, a precise explanation of the contents and images in their dreams can’t be provided.
Why can’t we completely answer the question, do blind people dream? It may also be because it might be challenging for some of them to adequately describe their feelings in their dreamland, especially if they have little to no visual experience.
But as mentioned above, the general content of a blind person’s dreams is probably similar to yours. They merely have somewhat varied dream experiences precisely because one of their major sense organs is functioning poorly or not functioning.
This question, ‘do blind people dream’ is an intriguing one. If you are too inclined, the best way to learn more about it is by interacting with the people rather than scrolling through lengthy articles. Consider speaking with a member of the blind community to have a complete picture of how blind people dream.
This way of exploring the question, ‘do blind people dream?’ will give you a clearer and better understanding of it. This approach will also make the blind person you choose feel heard and important, something they might not feel daily.
This approach might help them pay attention to what they dream and feel and enable them to be vocal about their problems, if any. So, your query of whether blind people dream and how they dream has been adequately addressed.