Do Blind People Have Visual Dreams? What Are Dreams Like for Blind People? Update 02/2024

The vast majority of dreams are likely to be experienced in full color if you are able to see. It is common to experience a dream in which you are able to see people, locations, and objects that appear to be real. As if you hadn’t already wondered, do people who are blind see in their dreams?

There is no easy yes or no response to this question. In dreams, some persons with vision impairments are able to see complete visual scenes. However, for others, just brief flashes of imagery are perceived. Some people, however, report having no visual elements in their dreams at all, despite the fact that this is still debated by some experts.

Learn more about how blind people dream, how dreams are affected by when a person becomes blind, and if blind people suffer nightmares.

What is a dream?

To put it simply, a dream is anything that occurs to you while you’re sleeping, including thoughts, feelings, and sensations. When neurons (brain cells) in various regions of your brain fire either randomly (as when you have random fragmented dreams), or in sync, this is what is known as dreaming (when you experience the dreams that may go on for what feels like hours). Smell and touch receptors are located in the same area of the brain as those for hearing and vision.
Dreams—windows to the mind - All In The Mind - ABC Radio National

Although some dreams feel like they stretch for days, did you know that the typical dream only lasts between 5 and 20 minutes? Every night, you have an average of four to 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 of your life dreaming!

Types of Dreams

There are several types of ‘regular’ dreams, which can range from pleasant to downright weird. Many of these may be new to you.

Stress, lack of sleep, or seeing or reading something upsetting before bedtime can all lead to a frightening and distressing nightmare.

When you are dreaming and are aware that you are dreaming, this is known as lucid dreaming. Those who have trouble sleeping due to nightmares or restless sleep may find that they have the ability to influence their dreams.

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 the term used to describe this type of waking.

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. When it comes to visual content and sensory experiences, some blind persons have dreams that are very similar to those of sighted people, while other blind people have dreams that are very different.

The Congenitally Blind

When it comes to the dreams of the congenitally blind, or people who were born blind, researchers tend to disagree. People who were born blind do not, according to some specialists, experience anything visual in their dreams or in their waking lives. Others, on the other hand, argue otherwise.

Congenital blindness causes people to have less eye movements during the REM sleep phase than their sighted peers. People with congenital blindness may not perceive visual content while dreaming because complicated dreaming occurs during the REM period and eye movements are considered to link to visual dream content.

When it comes to the REM state of sleep, those who go blind later in life tend to have less eye movement than their peers. 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 eye movements during REM sleep may be linked to visual dreams, but blind persons, regardless of when they first became blind, do not appear to have the same correlation.

Others have found that people who were born blind report having visual dreams.

The visual content of dreams can be drawn by blind sleepers as well as seeing sleepers. As a result, their EEG activity during dreams they describe as visual is similar to that of sighted people experiencing visual dreams.

Despite the fact that blind people may have visual dreams, they are likely to have far less than their sighted counterparts. When there is no visual content, their minds appear to increase other sensory sensations. Congenitally blind people, for example, are more likely to have dreams that include components of sound, touch, taste, and smell than sighted people.

People Who Went Blind Before Ages Five to Seven

Early childhood blindness may lead to greater visual dream content than people who were born blind but less than those who become visually impaired later in life. 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.

Different age groups are used to categorize blind people for research purposes. 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.
When, Who and How?: DO BLIND PEOPLE DREAM?

People Who Went Blind After Ages Five to Seven

After the ages of five to seven, those who go blind are more likely to have dreams in which they can see things. However, they may not be able to see as much in their dreams as those who are sighted. To compensate for a lack of visual content, persons who go blind later in life may find that other senses, such as hearing and touch, become more important in their dreams. For example, they are more likely to experience bodily sensations in their dreams than persons who are sighted.

Blind individuals’s visual dreams aren’t limited to the people and locations they saw before they become blind. Things that have been a part of their lives since they became blind are reflected in their dreams. As a person who has never seen something visually can’t really know what anything looks like, this argues that when we dream, our minds create a world instead of recreating one we are familiar with.

What Are Dreams Like for Blind People?

Blind and sighted people sleep in comparable ways, however many blind people have fewer visual imagery in their dreams than their visible peers. It’s common for both groups to have dreams in which they are the protagonist, experiencing sensory sensations, and engaging in social interactions with others.

Despite the fact that blind people’s visual dream content is diminished, their other senses are heightened. The senses of sound, touch, taste, and smell are more intense for the blind when they dream than for the sighted. Certain forms of dreams are more common among those who are blind compared to their sighted counterparts. 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. Blind people are more likely to experience bad dreams about travel than their sighted peers, according to a new study. It’s possible that some of these dreams are nightmares. Dream content may reflect issues blind individuals confront in daily life, according to one theory.

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.

The same things that sighted individuals fantasize about also occupy the minds of the blind.

Over the course of two months in 1999, researchers analyzed the dreams of 15 blind persons. Blind individuals’s dreams appear to be mostly comparable to those of sighted people, save for a few variations, according to the study.

  • Less personal success or failure was envisioned by blind people.
  • People who were blind were less prone to dream of violent encounters.
  • Some blind people reported having more frequent dreams about animals, particularly their guide dogs.
  • When it comes to food and eating, some blind persons have reported having more dreams about it.

Additionally, this study found that nightmares including some sort of misfortune were common. The study’s blind participants had twice as many dreams concerning travel or movement-related disaster as the study’s seeing participants.

People who are visually impaired may have dreams that represent their day-to-day experiences, such as anxieties or difficulty in getting to and from places.

Can they see their dreams?

Many people question how their dreams differ from one another. If you’re not blind, you might question if blind individuals have visual dreams because 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.

People who lose their vision before the age of five are more likely to have dreams in which they don’t see images. This line of reasoning suggests that the longer a person goes without sight, the more likely it is that they will continue to have vivid dreams.

According to a 2014 study, people with congenital blindness may also be more prone to experience dreams through taste, smell, sound, and touch. They had more tactile (touch) experiences in their dreams when they became blind later in life.

Do they have nightmares?

People who are blind have nightmares in the same way as those who are seeing do. In fact, some studies suggest that the blind are more likely than the sighted to experience nightmares. It’s especially true for persons who were born blind.

People who are blind or visually impaired are more prone to suffer from nightmares than their sighted counterparts, according to experts.

Your dreams are likely to be more frequent and distressing when you are under a lot of stress or in a frightening situation.

Things to keep in mind

Blind people’s dreams have only been studied in a few scientific research, each of which has many 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.
I'm Curious Too: How Do Blind People Dream?

Because of their limited or nonexistent contact with the visual world, it can be difficult for those who are blind to describe their dreams appropriately. The content of a blind person’s dreams, on the other hand, is likely to be similar to yours generally. Simply said, they have a unique way of interpreting their dreams.

Visual Dreaming in Blind People

In visual dreaming, persons who are blind see images in their dreams in the same way that a sighted person does. A person’s ability to do so greatly depends on when they lost their eyesight.

Blindness after the age of five, on the other hand, is associated with a greater likelihood of experiencing visual experiences in dreams, indicating that vision, cognition, and memory merge at some point in development. Individuals with visual impairments have the ability to perceive visual images in the same way as sighted persons.

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.

However, even if a person is visually impaired, he or she will be able to generate imaginal representations of the size, scale, position, or movement of persons and objects because of spatial relationships. It’s as if they’re “recognizing” time, place, and people in the same way as people who are blind do in their dreams.

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 imaginal representations may be the cause of this problem, which may make it difficult for the mind to process memories and sensations. It’s possible that dreams could become more distant, fragmented, and chaotic if they don’t have any feeling of spatial link.

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. It’s as a result of these non-visual senses that persons with blindness at birth have an incredible ability to comprehend and comprehend the world.

It is possible for someone who has been blind since birth to have dreams that are both vivid and imaginative. 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.

As a result, persons who are born blind have a comparable overall dreaming experience, but they don’t dream in images.

When a person loses their vision later in life, their dreams are substantially different from those of someone who was born with it. After losing their eyesight, people can still remember many visual events that can appear in their dreams and in a manner quite similar to that of someone who can see.

The bottom line

Even if they can’t recall their dreams, everyone dreams, including those who are blind. The way blind individuals dream has been the subject of numerous investigations. While useful, the findings have certain limitations.

Reach out to someone in the blind community or check out first-person tales online to get a more balanced view of how blind people dream.

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