Everything on this list so far has hinged on one unspoken factor: whether you can even remember your dreams at all. All of these surveys and studies were based on people who could actually remember what they dreamed about, and some of us can't -- we just wake up with a vague memory of something unpleasant happening, and maybe that it involved spiders. Well, according to researchers, the more creative you are, the less difficulty you have in remembering your dreams in the morning. This may seem like an abstract and ambiguous category to try sorting people into, but the researchers looked at variables such as being "prone to absorption, imaginativeness, daydreaming, and fantasizing," and concluded that people who scored high on these factors tended to remember their dreams more often.
"Two words: 'evil dick.'"
You might think that this is just a result of whatever chemicals those artsy types were putting into their bodies, but the results were adjusted for things like intake of caffeine and alcohol (which, as those of us who write for a living can attest, tend to spike harder as deadlines begin to dominate our lives). It didn't matter -- the creative types still retained their dreams better.
According to psychology professor David Watson, "People who are prone to daydreaming and fantasy have less of a barrier between states of sleep and wakefulness and seem to more easily pass between them." It sounds similar to the mechanism that lets gamers control their dreams -- apparently that whole bridge between your waking and dreaming mind is something that is built with practice.
"I can't even differentiate between the two anymore. In my eyes, everyone burns."
So if, when trying to concentrate on a lecture, you find yourself inexorably drifting toward wondering how well the lecture hall could survive a zombie apocalypse, then you're probably more likely to remember what you dream about each evening (which, we suppose, is probably fighting a zombie apocalypse).
S Peter Davis is the author of Occam's Nightmare, a book about the history of weird ideas. You can find more of his work at Three Minute Philosophy.
For more things that affect you more than you realize, check out 6 Weird Things That Influence Bad Behavior More Than Laws and The 5 Weirdest Things That Influence How Your Food Tastes.