Fascinating Facts About Dreams: What a Pain in the…

How Physical Pain Affects Our Dreams

Pain Dreams




The more facts you read about dreams, the more you realize just how fascinating they are.  This week’s “Fascinating Fact” is one you may have experienced yourself.  Have you ever dreamed that you were in pain of some sort, only to wake up and find that the pain was REAL?

Some people believe they hurt themselves in their dream, but that’s not the case. What happens is this:  When we experience pain with any type of intensity, we often “work” this pain into our dream.   If our spouse inadvertently kicks us in the middle of the night, for example, we may dream that something has hit us in the leg.

Lab studies have actually been performed that prove a couple of ways dreamers respond to pain during sleep:

  • If it’s a mild, annoying type of pain (for example, they’re foot has fallen asleep and they’re experiencing the pins and needles business), they may dream that their shoe is on too tight or that their foot is stuck in something.
  • If they are suffering from something more intense (such as a broken bone or pulled muscle), the pain may manifest itself in the dream as something the dreamer is trying to “escape” from.   Physical suffering often shows up in dreams as something that the dreamer is trying to out-run, hide from, or even destroy.

I once got an e-mail from a woman who was CONVINCED she’d cut herself in her dream.  She said that, in the dream, she cut herself on the leg with a piece of paper. When she woke up the next morning, she noticed a scratch exactly where she’d dreamed of being cut.  I told her that – although this certainly would make for the coolest of stories – it was physically impossible for a dream symbol to leave a mark.




I asked her if she had pets that regularly slept with her or if she slept with someone who might just need to clip their toenails!  She said that she had two cats that slept with her and her husband.

When I told her that it was pretty obvious that one of the cats accidentally scratched her leg – she agreed that it was “possible,” but that she planned on sticking with the paper cut explanation.

I guess a “good” story appeals to some people more than the plain old truth!

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