You might have heard people say “pinch yourself” to know if you’re dreaming or not. If you can feel the pain, it means you’re awake. And if you can’t, it shows that you’re still dreaming.
But is it true that we cannot feel pain when we’re dreaming?
A research in 1998 has proven that experiencing pain in dreams is indeed rare but it’s not impossible. Based on the study, 48.2% of participants said they have felt pain while sleeping at least once in their life. Some of them even claimed that the pain persisted after waking up. However, there was also another portion of them who expressed that the pain was gone immediately the moment they woke up to reality. For the latter, researchers say that the brain did not register the perceived pain as ‘real pain’ which is why the participants didn’t feel anything when they woke up.
But why is it possible to feel pain in our dreams?
According to another study in 2011, there are three reasons for this occurrence:
a) Incorporation of real pain into the dreams
This is caused by the physical pain experienced in real life. For example, if you accidentally fell from a tree and broke your leg, this location is probably the part of the reason that you’ll be feeling pain in your dream. Hospitalized burn victims were reported to have a higher tendency to dream about pain, based on research in ‘Incorporation of pain in dreams of hospitalized burn victims’.
b) First-person (You) pain memories
Even if the pain in dreams is not caused by the injured areas, it might be due to the painful memories that you’ve lived through. Like, the loss of somebody you treasured most or the trauma that comes back to you because of a certain terrifying situation.
c) Third-person pain memories
Even if you don’t experience the painful memories firsthand, witnessing them can cause you to feel the pain when you dream.
Have you experienced pain in your dreams? Let us know your experience in the comments.
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