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MISCONCEPTIONS

Common Misconceptions About Dreams

Ellen Gutoskey
If your nightmares look like Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare (1781), we're so sorry.
If your nightmares look like Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare (1781), we're so sorry. / Henry Fuseli, Detroit Institute of Arts, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Contrary to what Ebenezer Scrooge initially thought in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, nightmares aren’t merely a side effect of eating cheese before bed. In fact, studies have shown that pre-sleep snacks—dairy or otherwise—probably don’t influence your dreams at all. But even if you can’t blame your latest wacky snooze vision on last night’s midnight helping of chicken nuggets, you can try to trace it back to some stressor from your daily life.

Since dream interpretation isn’t an exact science—and sleep in general is one of science’s murkier territories—quite a few myths have arisen about what, why, and how we dream. In this episode of Misconceptions, Mental Floss's own Justin Dodd walks us through some of the more common fallacies about dreams. (And if you’re convinced you never dream, well, he has some news for you on that front, too.)

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