A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, although they have been a topic of scientific, philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history. Dream interpretation is the attempt at drawing meaning from dreams and searching for an underlying message. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable. The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes.People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, and some may have up to seven; however, most dreams are immediately or quickly forgotten. Dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM. Dreams related to waking-life experiences are associated with REM theta activity, which suggests that emotional memory processing takes place in REM sleep.
Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and culture. Many endorse the Freudian theory of dreams – that dreams reveal insight into hidden desires and emotions.[qualify evidence] Other prominent theories include those suggesting that dreams assist in memory formation, problem solving, or simply are a product of random brain activation.
Sigmund Freud, who developed the psychological discipline of psychoanalysis, wrote extensively about dream theories and their interpretations in the early 1900s. He explained dreams as manifestations of one's deepest desires and anxieties, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions.
- What is dream interpretation?
- How is REM sleep revealed?
- How many dreams does an average person have per night?
- What is oneirology?
- Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and culture.