People have reported dreaming about future events since the beginning of dream reports which incidentally, is nearly since the beginning of human life. One question remains: Are people dreaming about future events or does this just appear to be so due to the dream lag effect?
The dream lag effect is a well-known phenomenon where a dream occurs about a waking day event 3 or 4 nights after the event. For example, if a woman travels on business on a Monday then she may dream about those events on Thursday or Friday night. Could this be responsible for dreaming about future events?
For example, a woman goes to yoga class every Thursday evening. She dreams about the class on Monday evening and perceives this as a precognitive dream about the upcoming class on Thursday. Has she dreamt about the previous class or the upcoming class? Is this dream precognitive or just a dream lag?
The research seems to provide support for both of these events. People can certainly dream about events before they occur. This has been shown to occur in the lab with subjects dreaming about an upcoming event or object that they could not have known about previously. Furthermore, the dream lag effect appears to be a common theme as well and people certainly dream about events several nights after a waking day event has occurred. Precognition and dream lag appear to be two events that occur for some dreamers. When can a dreamer tell if a dream is precognitive or a dream lag?
Precognitive dreams appear to occur in approximately 15% of dreams and predict very specific events. Dream lags can be pinned directly to past waking day events and can be very helpful for problem-solving. The key is for the dreamer to become acquainted with their own dream imagery and to come to know which of these circumstances are in fact occurring for them. In either case, precognition and dream lagging appear to be helpful for dreamers in many ways.