Posted by: beagle4 | February 8, 2011

There is no blue without yellow and without orange

Every dream I have ever had has been in color, but is it just me or does everyone only dream in color? Is it possible to dream in black and white? According to R.L. Van De Castle, the majority of our dreams are in color. From an experiment he conducted, 83% of the subjects reported seeing color (70% distinct color was reported and 13% value color was reported). Because color is such a natural part of our visual experience, we sometimes overlook it in our dreams.

Robert J. Hoss has been investigating the significance of color in dreams for a 10-year period, and has concluded that color in dreams is stimulated by emotional associations that are both instinctive and personal in nature. The nervous system and human brain respond directly to color at an autonomic level. The autonomic nervous system controls breathing, blood pressure, and heart beating. The color blue has been observed to have a calming or relaxing effect on the body reducing heartbeat and breathing rate. The color red has the opposite effect, one of alerting and arousal, causing an increase in heartbeat and breathing. Specific dream colors appear to relate to specific groupings of emotional associations, similar to the subliminal emotional response to color while we are awake. (Article)

Color in literary terms, acts as a symbol. It represents the emotional conditions that stimulated a dream or dream image. Bob Hoss, past President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD),  has created a dream color chart. This table contains emotional themes, to help trigger your own personal associations as they might relate to the dream. (Click on the image to see the entire Dream Color Chart)

Some people have reported that they only dream in black and white. Is this a bad thing? The common interpretation is that dreams that are in black and white are an indication of depression or saddened mood. However, this is not scientifically proven and is just a hypothesis. If you dream only in black and white do not start freaking out. It is fully possible you are not depressed and there is some other explanation for this. Maybe you enjoy black and white television, and quite possibly due to this, if you are dreaming about that time period will dream in black and white.

Since dreams only occupy 25% of our sleep at night, it is possible that people do dream in color, and due to poor memory recall don’t even realize it. Dreams fade so quickly from our minds that we may only be able to recall the dream in shades of gray.

*The title of the post is a quote by Vincent Van Gogh.

Now just close your eyes and dream (and try to remember the color!)…



  1. Voter Poll on your blog! Awesome man. I don’t think I have ever thought about the colors in my dreams until I read this post, but now that I think about it I dont think I ever have dreamed in black and white. Which makes it “wierd” to think about all the hollywood movie flashbacks, or dreams, that they do in black and white.

  2. Never dreamt in black and white, but sometimes I don’t think I’m even aware if colors exist in my dreams if that makes sense. It seems like sometimes they happen so fast and with a certain objective or path that I don’t have time to notice small details. I have however dreamt completely in Spanish back when I was taking it in high school.

    • Yeah usually if I wake up in the middle of the night for a brief second I remember the color, but if I fall back asleep the memory of color is fuzzy. I usually don’t remember distinct colors when I wake up. It is probably because I normally see color and don’t pay too much attention to it. I’m curious if people that are color blind can see distinct colors in their dreams. My theory is they can’t simply because they have never seen that color in the real world due to being colorblind, but who knows. I have never had a dream in another language. That’s interesting. Did you appear to be fluent in the dream? I assume you are not fluent normally.

  3. I actually have experienced a dream in black and white. It may have been because I had just watched and old black and white comedy though. Most of the time the dreams that I do remember are in color. The Dream color chart is pretty cool and kind of makes sense. BTW awesome use of a poll.

    • Thanks. I guess I need to start watching more black and white television shows, and then I may start dreaming in black and white.

  4. I haven’t dreamed in black and white, but I have in blue and white. I’d classify it as a scary dream; I was being chased in a residential area by a guy with a knife.

  5. Yeah, I’m not sure if I’ve ever even noticed or thought about the color of my dreams. Interesting. I’ll have to try to pay more attention now.

    Nice post, and I love the images and tagline at the end.

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