What Are Dreams?

Find out all about dreams by reading this article.

Everyone has dreams, but we don't always recall what we dreamed about. In fact, we might think we didn't even dream one night, but we dream every time we sleep deeply.

Our most vivid dreams occur during a kind of sleep called "REM." REM stands for "rapid eye movement," because our eyes move back and forth quickly. "Vivid" means bright and lively. Our brain is very active during REM sleep. During the night, we have REM sleep every 90 to 100 minutes. REM periods last as long as 45 minutes. We have more dreams during other phases of sleep, but they are not as vivid.

Our brain is like a giant filing cabinet. Everything we see, hear, taste, smell and touch is remembered by our brain, and put into what we might call a "brain file." When we read a book, watch a television show or video, listen to music, eat some ice cream or pet a soft rabbit, it is all recorded in our "files." Our brain pays attention even when we don't! We call those files our memories. Usually, we don't even know all those things are in our head!


We dream about many different things. When we go to sleep, our brain begins to take bits and pieces of memories and put them together into a dream.

Some dreams are fun or silly, while others can be scary. Most dreams do not make a lot of sense, because our brain just took little pieces from a bunch of different memories.

Most people dream in color, but some have dreams in black and white or shades of brown! People do many things in their dreams that they really could or would never do, like fly or jump off a building, or swim and breathe under water.


Some people believe dreams all have a deep meaning. Others think dreams are just jumbles of thoughts. There may be some truth to both ideas.

Those who think dreams all have meaning, study the situations, places, people and objects in dreams, and then interpret them. They try to figure out what the dream meant to the dreamer.

Some people believe dreams can predict the future, but studies have never proven that to be true, mainly because it is difficult to study dreams in a laboratory.


Nightmares, or bad and scary dreams, are often thought to be caused by stress, traumatic events or worries in the dreamer's life. Almost everyone has nightmares sometimes. Many people can force themselves to wake up when they have a bad dream.

If you want to try waking up from a bad dream, do this:

When you are having a really scary dream, for example, a monster is chasing you, turn to the monster and say, "Hey! Get out of here and leave me alone! This is MY dream and I'm waking up now!" It may just work for you!

It was once thought if a person was falling in a dream and hit the bottom, or ground, they would die. We now know this is not true, because people have had such a dream and lived to tell about it! So, if you are falling in a dream, tell yourself, "It's okay, because I will bounce when I hit the ground!" Then let yourself hit and you will have fun bouncing all around!

There is a way to help yourself have good dreams. While falling asleep, you can start thinking about a happy situation and, often, a dream will begin from the happy thoughts. Doing this is called giving yourself "pre-dream suggestions."

For example, think about riding a pony on a mountain. Picture yourself on the pony's back and then the pony begins to fly! Wow! That will bring a good dream!

Happy thoughts bring happy dreams!

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