Around 12% of people dream in black and white.
Source: Original photo by Cassandra Hamer/ Unsplash

Around 12% of people dream in black and white.

Whether they’re about showing up to school in your underwear or having your teeth fall out, most dreams have one thing in common: They’re in color. Not for everyone, though. Roughly 12% of people dream entirely in black and white, making their nightly visions much like watching an old movie. That comparison isn’t a coincidence, either. The number used to be much higher: In the 1940s, 75% of Americans reported seeing color in their dreams only rarely or never, and some researchers believe that black-and-white television is part of the reason why. Color TV didn’t become common until the 1950s and ’60s, so for many years, most people’s most common experiences with visual stories were in gray scale.

Not everybody dreams.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Everybody dreams, but some people think they don’t for the simple reason that they never remember their dreams.

A 2008 study found that people 25 and younger almost never dreamed in black and white, while those 55 and older who didn't have color TV in their younger years had black-and-white dreams about a quarter of the time. Yet the television connection is difficult to prove for certain, as are many things related to dreaming. For everything we have learned about this nightly phenomenon, scientists have still yet to conclusively determine why we dream at all.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Number of dreams most people have per night
4-6
Percent of dreams that are quickly forgotten
95
Hours most people spend dreaming each night
2
Percent of people who have recurring dreams
60-75
The first national color TV broadcast was _______.
The first national color TV broadcast was the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade.
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Think Twice
Some people can control their dreams.

It’s called lucid dreaming, which is when you’re aware that you’re dreaming — and, in some cases, can control what happens next. Studies suggest that roughly half of people have had at least one lucid dream, and it may have to do with their brain. Lucid dreamers tend to have larger prefrontal cortexes, a part of the brain that plays a central role in cognitive tasks such as recalling memories and making decisions. Some consider lucid dreaming to be a learnable skill, with how-to guides available for those who want to emulate Inception.

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