Our senses allow us to take in the world. Each sense provides a different way to connect and interact with our environment. In addition, our senses can work together and even step in should one sense deteriorate. This is referred to as sensory compensation and has been noted in individuals with hearing and visual impairments. Scientists theorize that this may affect the nature of a hearing-impaired individual’s dreams and cause their dreams to be more visual and vivid.
The initial research into this subject matter occurred in the early sixties when three researchers—Mendelson, Singer and Solomon—conducted a study on the dream experiences of the deaf and hearing-impaired. While the study concluded that there was a discernable difference in the dreaming experience, later research negated their study.
Recently, a new set of researchers has taken another look at this issue. A study conducted by Okada, Hitosh and Wakasaya involved 86 students with a hearing impairment. The participants had significant hearing loss of over 60 dB and were aged 15 to 20. A questionnaire was used to measure various facets of the students dreaming habits. These included dream recall, emotional and sensory responses, vividness, nightmares and lucid dream.
The results of this group were compared to a control group, which included 344 students of a similar age range, all of whom had their full range of hearing. The study concluded that individuals with hearing loss scored much higher than their counterparts in many areas. The questionnaires indicated that the hearing-impaired students’ dreams were often more vivid. Additionally, this group had better recall and experienced lucid dreams more regularly. Notably, these dreamers had higher occurrences of dream-related sensations—smell, taste, pain and temperature—and emotions—including fear, anger, hope, surprise and shame.
The findings of this study seems to support the idea that dreams of hearing impaired individuals are affected by sensory compensation. However, there are many downsides to leaving hearing loss untreated. Common complications include social withdrawal, increased likelihood of fall-related injuries and cognitive decline. If you or a loved one is suffering from a hearing loss, we encourage you to speak with a local Thousand Oaks hearing loss expert. To schedule a consultation with one of our audiology experts, we encourage you to speak with our team today at 805.449.2380!