What Do Colours in Dreams Mean?

6 Min Read | By Lottie Salako

Last Modified 12 December 2023   First Added 25 January 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

In the 20th century, it was widely believed that we could only dream in black and white. A study in 1950 concluded only 29% of participants reported having dreams with colour, but in 2008, another study found everyone’s dreams had some colour, so what changed?

Well, television. Yes, really! The current theory around why our dreams changed is that technicoloured TV became the norm. As people became exposed to colourful media, the images in our brains began to change too.

Are your dreams brightly painted with attention-grabbing tones that follow you into tomorrow? Let’s dig deeper into the psychology behind how and why we dream of colour…

Dreaming in colour

The dominance of one colour in your dreams is thought to be an indication of a strong emotional state, so if there is a certain shade that appears in your dreams, there could be an underlying message your subconscious is trying to get to you.

Dreams with light and vibrant colours can be associated with positive emotions of hope, safety and happiness. On the opposite end of the colour scale, dark colours may represent negative emotions such as fear, horror and envy.

But remember, colours are highly personal, so when it comes to deciphering what they mean, you need to take a look at significant moments in your own life. Let’s dig into what each colour means…

1. What do dreams of red mean?

Seeing red in your dreams is likely to be a sign that you have strong emotions about something in your waking life. Highly symbolic, red has a vast array of meanings assigned to it across different cultures:

  • Anger
  • Warning
  • Sex
  • Passion
  • Luck

Against natural and urban landscapes, shades of red catch our attention so are more likely to be remembered. Pay close attention to where red appears in your dreams: is someone wearing a scarlet hat? Do you pass a vermillion door and have the urge to open it? This will help you figure out what your brain is working through at night.

2. What do dreams of pink mean?

Softer than red, shades of pink in your dreams can signify more playful emotions such as flirtation, so look out for someone new in your life that has caught your eye. Pink also symbolises unconditional love, empathy, and generosity, so people who appear in your dreams wearing pink are likely to be people you feel very positively about.

On the other hand, it can indicate a desire for these things if you feel unfulfilled in your relationships. So, if your dreams are pretty in pink, you may want to take that as a sign to make a move.

3. What do dreams of orange mean?

In popular culture, orange’s rich, warm tone is strongly connected with energy, ambition, and abundance. It is often seen during autumn when the leaves change colour, so it can symbolise an emotional transition for you. If you often see orange in your dreams, perhaps this means your brain is telling you to go after the thing you want, even if it means big changes.

4. What do dreams of yellow mean?

Yellow is typically thought of as a happy colour, representing warmth, light, and positivity. If your dreams are full of sunny days, buttery flowers, and lemon shades, it can mean that you’re looking forward to the future and feeling optimistic about a change in circumstances.

5. What do dreams of green mean?

A complicated colour, green in dreams can symbolise many feelings:

  • The green-eyed monster: This popular saying has tied green imagery to feelings of jealousy or feeling dissatisfied with your life
  • Cold hard cash: An Americanism that many recognise – green became a colour associated with money, wealth, and success
  • Nature: The colour of lush outdoor spaces, seeing green in your dream can mean you’re feeling disconnected from nature and need to take time to reconnect
  • Inner healing: If you’ve felt run down, physically or mentally, then green popping up in your dreams can be a sign your brain needs rest and recuperation

6. What do dreams of blue mean?

With so many shades that have contrasting connotations, blue dreams can have a variety of meanings. For many of us, blue is associated with sadness and depression, especially in dark, cold tones. If your dreams have a blue tint or take place under a twilight sky, it can be a manifestation of unhappiness in your waking hours.

Conversely, light, pastel blues have strong ties to summer skies, fresh water, and peacefulness. It can signify positive emotions like creativity and honesty, so it’s important to remember where you see the colour blue – are you wearing it? Or is it someone else? This can tell you a lot about how you feel about yourself or the people in your life.

7. What do dreams of purple mean?

For many centuries, purple has been thought of as a royal colour that symbolises wealth and power. This is because purple dyes used to be very expensive but even now, dark shades of purple are seen as commanding. A purple sky can mean a storm is coming and violet is often associated with psychic abilities – so watch out for this spiritual warning in your dreams.

Dreams where colours are wrong

One factor that can make colour memorable in dreams is if it is irrational. Dreams can be utterly absurd, so it’s not uncommon to see things that don’t reflect reality, maybe the sky is emerald green, or your best friend is suddenly blonde.

These incongruous colours are more likely to stick in our brains as wrong, so we have a better chance of remembering and laughing at them in the morning. But does this symbolise anything? Most likely nothing in particular, it’s probably a signal your brain is processing.

Many studies show the parts of the brain responsible for processing visual and emotional information are active during sleep, while the parts that help you think about things logically are not. This is why we’re able to create such strange stories in our sleep that you wouldn’t imagine when you’re awake!

What if I dream in grayscale?

Plenty of people do still dream in black and white, even if they’ve never been exposed to black and white TV regularly. We still have access to this media and grayscale is used in modern films, so we know what it looks like. Researchers also found that it can be difficult to recall whether or not there was colour in your dream. If nothing stood out, then you’re likely to forget if there was colour or not, which can make us recall dreams in black and white.

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