Posted by: beagle4 | January 24, 2011

“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.”

The title of my first content based blog entry is a quote by Sigmund Freud. It is nearly impossible to research anything related to the mind and not have his name come up at least once or twice. Freud opened the door for the scientific research of dreams, and called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious.” An entire blog entry in the future will be devoted to his theories and analysis about the mind and dreams.

So what is a dream? To answer this question a quick trip to Wikipedia shall suffice. “Dreams are a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.” Great, that was the answer I expected since I have very imaginative dreams every night. Am I just special or does everyone have these vivid occurrences? Everybody dreams! However, some people have trouble remembering their dreams or remembering waking up in the middle of the night, causing them to think they never have dreams (like my roommate). Okay so all humans dream, but do animals? That is a topic for discussion in another blog entry.

So when does dreaming occur? The most vivid dreams occur during a type of sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. During this sleep, the eyes move rapidly back and forth underneath the eyelids, and in this sleep state is when most dreams occur (about 90-120 minutes a night). Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep, however it is possible to dream during  a non-REM state. During a typical lifespan, a person spends a total of about six years dreaming!

Now that we’ve got our feet wet, we will be able to dive into the deep-end next blog entry. On a side note: While trying to research how the brain creates dreams and how brain waves work (in order to successfully construct the DreamHelmet), I came across two interesting articles (Article 1 and Article 2). Although these articles don’t exactly relate to the topic of dreams, they provide insight to the human mind and brain waves.  According to the articles, it is possible to identify details about a terrorist attack by analyzing a person’s brainwaves. In the study, scientists from Northwestern Lab were able to correlate P300 brain waves to guilty knowledge of terrorist attacks with 100 percent accuracy. I felt these articles would be a good way to end my blog entry for today.

Now just close your eyes and dream…



  1. What are your thoughts on REM sleep being more beneficial before midnight? Also is it true that REM sleep only occurs at night because if either one of these are true college kids around the world are loosing countless hours of REM sleep and that cnat be good!

    • I don’t think the time you go to sleep has any affect on REM sleep. The first REM sleep period usually occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after we fall asleep, so as long as you are sleeping for at least an hour and a half they REM should occur.

  2. Hi Brett! The blog looks great–nice, clean design, good for your topic. And I like your use of images, links and multimedia, already!

    I just want to encourage you to focus your posts a little more, if you can–it’s okay to wander a little bit at the beginning, and I get that you’re trying to lay some groundwork, but you want your posts to link to one particular idea, research finding, or news story in order to stay really relevant and interesting.

  3. This blog sounds like it is going to be real exciting. I love diving into the world of dreams! A very informative and interesting documentary on dreams is PBS’s “What are Dreams?” it can be streamed from netflix (not that I’m promoting netflix). One very interesting part is when it shows a cat that they have removed the portion of the brain that paralyzes us when we sleep…check it out!

    • Thanks. I have a netflix account and think it is amazing, so don’t feel bad if you are promoting netflix. I added the documentary to my instant queue and will watch it at some point. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. @MailMan Not sure where you’re getting your information but just from a quick google search I found that REM sleep happens about 4-5 times a night in a average 8 hour sleep. So I think us college kids are ok.

  5. I am really excited to read this blog. Especially so because after seeing Inception, I think it will be interesting to see how if at all real dreams relate to anything in that movie.

  6. Cool blog topic. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one. I’ve recently become really interested in this kind of stuff. NPR’s RadioLab podcast has some cool topics on the subconscious that you might be interested in.

    • Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  7. Is it true that the average dream lasts only 3 seconds? Because my dreams certainly feel a lot longer. And if it is true, what constitutes an “average” dream.

    • Well according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, people spend an average of two hours dreaming each night. Also, people enter REM sleep about 4-5 each night (where vivid dreams occur). So based off those two numbers, a dream would have an average of 24 min. The REM episodes lengthen progressively across the night though, so the average calculation isn’t extremely helpful. I found this on some website: “The average time an individual dream lasts is unknown. Depending on who you ask (or which site you visit), a dream can last anywhere from a matter of seconds to 45 minutes.” Also, I remember reading somewhere that the actual time elapsed during a dream is an exact correlation to the actual time that elapses in real life.

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