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Men and Women Dream (and Have Nightmares) About Completely Different Things

Superheroes, falling, being chased, and losing teeth are all in the mix. 

When over 1,200 men and women were asked what they dream about, the most common themes were traveling, sex, and flying. But the sexes differed in what they dreamed — and had nightmares about — with men dreaming more about sex and superheroes, and women dreaming more about traveling.

At 39 percent, traveling is the most common recurring dream among women. At around 15 percent, sex was one of the most common recurring dream for men. Surprise.

We all know nightmares are horrible; for women common bad dreams involve being chased (19.6 percent), falling and losing teeth (tied at 9.9 percent), being attacked (9.7 percent), and ending a relationship with a significant other (8.3 percent).

For men, common nightmares included falling (19.4 percent), being chased (17.1 percent), and getting attacked (13.7 percent).

Men who visited far off places in their dreams reported waking with feelings of “pure bliss” to “wonder” and “sadness and anxiety.” Where they visited? China and outer space, mostly.

Men also love dreams of sex, while females reported dreaming of sex only half as much. Men also dreamed of acquiring superpowers (8.7 percent) and money (8.4 percent). The most commonly remembered colors in these dreams were earthy, such as blue, green, red, gray, black, and brown.

Women dreamed about falling in love a lot, as much as men dream about sex. “Our dreams are often driven by topics and themes that mean the most to us and that are frequently on our mind,” reports the study, with women saying love dreams made them feel “calm” and “warm.”

Both sexes reported nightmares about falling, with both men and women describing feelings of “stomach-turning,” “terror,” “helplessness,” and “fear” to describe their memories.

According to the study, large amounts of stress drove 49 percent of women’s dreams and 36.9 percent of men’s.

Breaking it down by age, Baby Boomers dreamed most of revelry and exploration: new and exciting places, memorable and fun experiences, and an adventurous life.

Gen-Xers dreamed of exploration, adventure, wonder, and floating above the clouds.

Millennials had themes of love and adventure dominating their dream worlds the most.

To create the visuals for the study, participants were asked to select their most recurring dreams and describe the feelings and colors associated with those dreams. Once all the responses were collected, a text analysis was run to determine the most frequent descriptive phrases per dream type.

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