Studying Dreams:
Do You Dream in Colour?

Have you ever asked yourself "‘do I dream in colour?" It is a commonly asked question. Undoubtedly an initial response would be “why would I not dream in colour?” Afterall, life is lived in colour so why would dreams be any different?

dream in color

Studies show that around 95% of all dreams are quickly forgotten. Changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the processing and storage needed for memory.

Brain scans of sleeping participants have shown that the areas of the brain that play a crucial role in memory formation are inactive during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep when dreams occur.

Researchers continue to study and learn more about dreams – and what happens while dreaming. While there are many unanswered questions, here are a few quickfire facts about dreams from the Sleep Health Foundation.

  • People dream every night
  • Bizarre dreams occur because part of the brain shuts down during sleep
  • People dream in pictures
  • Individuals can learn to control their dreams to some extent
  • Muscles become paralysed during the dream stage of sleep (REM), which prevents acting out in dreams

History of Black and White Dreams

At the beginning of the twentieth century, descriptions of dreams evolved from being in colour to black and white. Researchers at that time believed that dreams were portrayed in grayscale. An early study showed that 70% of participants rarely saw colours in their dreams, whereas a slim 10% did remember dreaming in colour.

It took half a century for dreaming in colour to reappear as a common occurrence. Why did it take this long? A possible answer to this question is linked to the popularity of black and white televisions, film reels, newspapers, and images. Yet, with changing technology that impacted television viewing habits, news imagery, photographs and entertainment, perceptions of dreaming in colour changed.

Some People Dream Only in Black and White. Some People Dream Only in Colour.

Another theory about whether a person dreams in black and white or color extends beyond viewing habits and involves an individual's overall level of creativity. Some believe that creative people have a greater tendency to dream in colour. Though, there is no research that substaniates this theory. 

Dreaming in colour, however, can have strong meanings. Colours are an indication of what is happening in daily life. For example, if you have a dream where you are being chased, it may mean that you are avoiding an issue or a person that evokes fear.

Specific colors in dreams can be representative of experiences in life. For example, if you see a lot of blue in your dreams, it can represents a positive sign. Following is a brief overview into colours and their meanings.

  •  Black – A colour often associated with sadness, loneliness, depression, mystery, anger, fear
  • Blue – A cool, peaceful colour associated with positivity, water, heaven, and the sky
  • Brown – A colour meaning friendliness, wholesomeness, predictability, or neutrality
  • Grey – A neutral colour known for confusion, indecisiveness, and uncertainty
  • Green – Another cool, tranquil colour which signifies nature, peace, healing, and hope
  •  Orange – A colourful, bright colour the symbolises freshness, optimism, and hope
  • Pink – A vibrant colour known for kindness, affection, protection, love, and romance
  • Purple – A colour that symbolises good judgement, spiritual and inspiration
  • Red – A strong colour that can be known for love, romance, intimacy, lust but also anger, power and control
  • White – A colour that signifies love, acceptance, purity, and brightness
  • Yellow – A colour that can symbolise positivity, innocence, hope and happiness on one spectrum, and sickness, indecision, and cowardliness on the other

Ways to Enhance Sleep and Promote Dreaming

If you’re looking to improve your sleep to further your dream activity, there are various things you can do to help achieve this. While it’s completely normal to forget about dreams the moment you wake up, you can monitor and track them in order to better remember them over time. Dreaming is a practice and individuals can control some aspects of it.

To have more control in your dreams is called lucid dreaming. It’s not particularly something you can master in just one night. It takes plenty of practice. Ultimately, lucid dreaming is a type of dreaming where you are aware that you are dreaming. This allows you to have some control over what is happening in your dream, including the characters and narrative.

Here are tips to enhance your sleep quality and dreaming capabilities.

Start a Dream Journal

This is one of the simplest ways to start tracking and remembering your dreams. Keep a journal and pen next to your bed. When you wake up, immediately document what you remember, if anything. What you write doesn’t have to be an essay; simple bullet points will suffice until you can go back and elaborate further.

Overcome Sleep Issues

If you have difficulty sleeping, talk with your doctor about any problems you may be experiencing, whether they be falling asleep or staying asleep. He or she may offer recommendations for establishing a healthy sleep routine, creating a restful sleep environment, consuming sleep-inducing foods and beverages (and avoiding those that interrupt sleep), exercising and more. Depending on your sleep concerns, your provider may recommend over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. He or she may also want you to journal your sleep and awake periods and/or participate in a sleep study.

Switch Body Positions

Body position during sleep may influence the type of dreams you experience throughout the night. It is thought that, if you sleep on your stomach, you may have more positive and strange dreams.

Try the Wake Back Method

This is a popular technique if you are wanting to take the plunge into lucid dreaming. The wake back method involves waking yourself up after you’ve been asleep for 5 hours because this is when you’re most likely to be in the dream stage of sleep (REM). Before you sleep, set your alarm for 5 hours ahead. Then, wake up, write in your dream journal if you remember a dream, and go back to sleep with the intention of having a lucid dream. This may take time and practice so experts advise to not force it.

Reduce Technology

There have been many articles and sleep guides telling you to switch off your phone, television, computer, and anything that has a screen. And for good reason. Screen exposure before bedtime impacts how individuals sleep. It makes falling asleep even harder and can interfer with overall rest. 


About the author: This article was researched and written by Roxanne Berry for My Next Mattress, a UK-based mattress supplier.

Related Information - Dream in Colour

Dream Interpretation 
Dream Symbols  
Lucid Dreaming 
Why Do People Dream

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