Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Wellness > Mental Health

Can Our Dreams Predict the Future? Why and How We Dream

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Dreams. No, not the song by The Cranberries nor the song by Fleetwood Mac; but the stories that we have each night after our head touches our pillows. The question is, do these stories we have each night contain vital information that we need to remember? Can our dreams serve as symbolic meaning for something we should know about our lives?

Dreams Are Actually Really Important…

Dreams serve a function that is more than just a funny, weird story to tell your friends the next day. Scientists have come up with theories that explain why we physically must dream to be able to function properly. One theory is that we dream to build our memories. Dreams help to strengthen our cognitive abilities to remember and recall information. Even though some people wake up the next day and can’t remember what their dream was, we actually dream every time we sleep. In fact, these dreams usually only last about two hours of our sleep time, despite the very long, and complicated dreams almost everyone can recount having at least once in their life.

Another theory of why we might dream is to process our emotions. Our dreams vary each night, in which there are different imaginative contexts. By experiencing these, we engage in our feelings in a way that allows our brains to be able to manage them.

Do Our Dreams Have Hidden Meaning?

Many of my family members, myself included, have had dreams that have been either connected or somehow predictive of something in the future. When people have dreams that seem to be premonitions of the future, they’re called precognitive dreams. While there is sparse scientific evidence within research today on whether our dreams can be confirmed to predict the future, there are some famous instances of precognitive dreams. Former President Abraham Lincoln dreamed about his sudden death. Days before his assassination, he recounted a dream he had to Ward Hill Lamon, his former law partner, and friend. The dream occurred about 10 days before telling Lamon, in which in his dream he was in the White House among sobbing people and a covered corpse. When he asked who had died, one of his soldiers answered that the President had, and was killed by an assassin. However, Lincoln recalled that the covered corpse he had seen was definitely not him. Days later, he was assassinated.

There are a few reasons why scientists think people may experience precognitive dreams. People who believe in the paranormal and dreams being predictive are more likely to have precognitive dreams. Just holding a belief in connections being present may be an explanation for having these types of dreams. Another reason why is selective recall. People are more likely to remember a dream they had that happened to come true in their real lives rather than a dream that does not happen to occur.

There’s no clear, outright evidence that has proven that our dreams can truly predict the future. However, there’s no evidence that dreams can’t predict our futures. While now we may not know for sure if the dream we had last night is actually going to happen, different types of dreams we have can be indicative of our health. People with Parkinson’s disease tend to have nightmares often, which indicates that their cognitive functions are likely to decline. Regularly having dreams is also a sign of good health. There is still more research to be done about dreams, but what we do know is dreaming is a vital part of our lives.

Can’t get enough of HC UMass Amherst? Be sure to follow us on Instagram, listen to us on Spotify, like us on Facebook, and read our latest Tweets 

Rose Kelly

U Mass Amherst '26

Rose is a sophomore at UMass Amherst studying Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with an Art minor. She loves spending time at the beach, painting in watercolors, and eating Purple Cow ice cream.