Skip to main content
Log in

Analysis of a large sample of diary dreams—how typical are these typical dreams?

Analyse einer großen Stichprobe von Träumen aus Tagebüchern – Wie typisch sind diese typische Träume?

  • Original Contribution
  • Published:
Somnologie - Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Typical dreams are defined as dreams with similar contents reported by a high percentage of dreamers. Up to now, the frequencies of typical dream themes have been studied with questionnaires, indicating that the rank order of 55 typical dream themes is quite stable over different sample populations. The study presented here is the first to look at the frequencies of typical dream themes in a large sample of diary dreams reported by 425 students (321 women, 64 men; mean age 23 years). Overall, almost all typical dream themes were found in the diary dreams, even though some themes occurred very rarely. The rank correlation between diary data and questionnaire data is relatively high, but for some typical dream themes like “Trying again and again to do something” and “Falling” the ranks differed considerably. Future research should adopt various ways of identifying typical dream themes (e.g. qualitative analysis of large dream samples, themes dreamers themselves identify as typical) and develop a more precise definition for each theme. This would be the prerequisite for empirical studies investigating the question why these dream themes are typical, i.e. how these dreams are related to the waking-life experiences of the dreamer.

Zusammenfassung

Typische Träume werden definiert als Träume mit ähnlichen Inhalten, die von vielen Menschen berichtet werden. Bis heute wurden die Häufigkeiten von typischen Traumthemen mit Fragebögen erfasst. Es ergab sich, dass die Rangordnung der 55 Themen sehr stabil über verschiedene Stichproben ist. Die vorliegende Studie untersucht die Häufigkeiten typischer Traumthemen in einer großen Stichprobe von Tagebuchträumen, die von 425 Studierenden (361 Frauen, 64 Männer; Altersmittelwert: 23 Jahre) berichtet wurden. Es wurden fast alle typischen Traumthemen in den Tagebuchträumen gefunden, jedoch traten einige Themen sehr selten auf. Die Rangkorrelation zwischen den Fragebogendaten und den Tagebuchdaten ist relativ hoch, aber für einige typische Traumthemen, z. B. etwas immer wieder versuchen oder Fallen, waren große Unterschiede hinsichtlich der Ränge nachzuweisen. Zukünftige Forschung sollte sich darum bemühen, verschiedene Wege zu gehen, um typische Traumthemen zu identifizieren (Analyse großer Traumstichproben, subjektive Einschätzung von Träumern, welche Themen als typisch empfunden werden), und eine präzisere Definition für die einzelnen Themen zu entwickeln. Dies wäre eine wichtige Grundvoraussetzung, um zu untersuchen, warum manche Traumthemen typisch sind, d. h., wie diese Trauminhalte mit der Wacherfahrungswelt des Träumers in Verbindung stehen.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  1. Dumel G, Nielsen TA, Carr M (2012) Age and sex differences in dream diversity. Int J Dream Res 5:S67–S68

    Google Scholar 

  2. Freud S (1991) The interpretation of dreams (Org.: Die Traumdeutung, 1900). Penguin Books, London

  3. Gahagan L (1936) Sex differences in recall of stereotyped dreams, sleep-talking and sleep-walking. Pedical Semin J Genetic Psychol 48:227–236

    Google Scholar 

  4. Garfield P (2001) The universal dream key: the twelve most common dream themes around the world. Cliff Street Books, New York

  5. Germain A, Nielsen TA, Zadra A et al (2000) The prevalence of typical dream themes challenges the specifity of the threat simulation theory. Behav Brain Sci 23:940–941

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Griffith RM, Miyagi O, Tago A (1958) The universality of typical dreams: Japanese vs. Americans. Am Anthropologist 60:1173–1179

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Nielsen TA, Zadra AL, Germain A et al (1998) The 55 typical dreams questionnaire: assessment of 200 sleep patients. Sleep Supplement 21:286

    Google Scholar 

  8. Nielsen TA, Zadra AL, Simard V et al (2003) The typical dreams of Canadian university students. Dreaming 13:211–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Schredl M (2003) Continuity between waking and dreaming: a proposal for a mathematical model. Sleep Hypnosis 5:38–52

    Google Scholar 

  10. Schredl M (2010) Dream content analysis: basic principles. Int J Dream Res 3:65–73

    Google Scholar 

  11. Schredl M (2004) Length of diary dreams: single dreams vs. two or more dreams per morning. North Am J Psychol 6:121–124

    Google Scholar 

  12. Schredl M (2008) Personality correlates of flying dreams. Imagin Cogn Pers 27:129–137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Schredl M, Ciric P, Götz S et al (2004) Typical dreams: stability and gender differences. J Psychol 138:485–494

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Yin F, Shen H, He Y et al (2013) Typical dreams of “being chased”: a cross-cultural comparison between Tibetan and Han Chinese dreamers. Dreaming 23:64–77

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Yu CKC (2008) Typical dreams experienced by Chinese people. Dreaming 18:1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Zadra AL, Nielsen TA (1999) The 55 typical dream questionnaire: consistency across three student samples. Sleep Supplement 22:S175

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest. J. Mathes and M. Shredl state that there are no conflicts of interest.

All studies on humans described in the present manuscript were carried out in accordance with national law and the Helsinki Declaration of 1975 (in its current, revised form). Informed consent was obtained from all patients included in studies.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Schredl Ph. D..

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mathes, J., Schredl, M. Analysis of a large sample of diary dreams—how typical are these typical dreams?. Somnologie 18, 107–112 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-013-0653-6

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11818-013-0653-6

Keywords

Schlüsselwörter

Navigation