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Dreaming takes place in different ways during four of the basic sleep stages. Dreams are not always composed of only images, since it is known that blind people and people who cannot visualize while awake also dream. Their dreams are made up of mostly auditory and sensory experiences. Dreaming can occur in any stage of sleep. Dreams have been reported from all stages in laboratory experiments. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
Studies have shown that some animals also dream. Many mammals dream every night. In humans, dreams usually start after an hour and a half into sleep, sometimes even before. An estimate for the amount of time we dream per day is about 2 hours. This means that if one were to live 67 years, they would have dreamed about 49,000 hours.
There are many things people believe about how dreams are caused. Not all of them really have an effect. For example, eating certain foods before bedtime does not have anything to do with what you dream. It seems like many people believe this, even James did before starting research on this project. Your sleeping environment does not cause what you dream either. Internal biological processes, according to research done by specialists mostly cause dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is the ability of the person that is dreaming to become aware of one's own dream and to be able to control it. Some lucid dreamers can learn to communicate with their scientists without speaking, this is, through mental signals. The research on lucid dreaming is rather new, so there is less information about it than on other types of dreaming, but it is a current topic of much interest.
Dreaming is a very interesting subject in the area of sleep. It is also quite mysterious as there are still many things that cannot be explained about dreaming and REM sleep. Research about sleep continues today to try to unravel these mysteries. New research promises to give significant information about lucid dreaming, memory, storage and retrieval, psychobiological processes, human consciousness, and specific operations in the mind.
See also a lesson plan developed by Dr. Eric Chudler, University of Washington, in his neuroscience website with many pages of interest to both older and younger children: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.shtml Suggested activities include a dream journal worksheet to help record your sleep and dream patterns systematically and a suggested REM investigation Sleep and Dreaming Experiments : Activities for grades 3 -12, can be found at http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chsleep.shtml . Dr. Chudler says that a future issue of his neuroscience monthly newsletter (the next one to be published after his communication of 8/99) will include a section on dreaming.
[Note: further referrals to previous TQ entries specifically on Dreaming can be found at the end of our page on the Psychology of Dreams. Please continue.] [an error occurred while processing this directive]