Dreams – What Are Dreams In Psychology?

Dreams are fascinating, exciting and some people like me sleep only to watch dreams. The curious little kitten in me always wonders what they are and why do they occur? Finally, I found the answer and now this is my duty to feed other curious cats like me.

Everyone has dreams but a little ratio of the population has claimed that they never had them. On average, a person dreams about 150,000 times if they live up to seventy years. Humans have dreams a night and most of them are forgotten while some stay with you even after waking up.

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are the stories that your brain shows you during your sleep in the shape of feelings, memories, pictures, and collections of clips. They are mostly about the things on our mind and the things you have been thinking a lot about lately. 

According to Sigmund Freud, dreams are the outcome of your innermost anxieties and fears and it is closely connected to the ideas and repressed desires, which are in our mind before a dream has occurred.

When Does Dreaming Occur?

On a biological level, they occur when a person goes through the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. The REM stage of sleep is one of the most important parts of sleep and dreaming. During REM sleep paralysis of the voluntary muscles occurs. The phenomenon is known as REM atonia. REM atonia prevents you from acting out your dreams while you are asleep – motor neurons are not stimulated so your body does not and cannot move.

In some cases, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as ten minutes, a condition known as sleep paralysis which is frightening, but is completely normal and does not cause any harm other than fright.

Types Of Dreams:

They involve elements from waking life, like known people, places or situations but have a fantastical feel. They allow people to act out in a way they never would in real life. However, it doesn’t mean that they would only be positive. 

Other than normal, there are two categories of dreams:

Lucid Dreams

Lucid dreaming is in which the dreamer is aware that they’re asleep, and is able to control the dream to some extent. It occurs mostly during the late phasic period of REM sleep when the eye moves most quickly and muscles twitch.

While having Lucid dreams the brain undergoes a physiological change. An FMRI study suggests that the prefrontal cortex and a cortical network, the frontal, parietal, and temporal zones are activated when the brain begins lucid dreaming. This activation is related to the “waking consciousness” and characterizes lucidity.


Nightmares are the terrifying or negative dreams that cause unpleasant feelings of anxiety, distress. They attack children more than adults. Though, the adults have occasional nightmares. Nightmares are terrifying and can lead to sleeping disorders like Insomnia. 

They are confused with the night terrors, which is a sleep disorder, which causes people to scream, shake in their sleep and show similar symptoms of a panic attack. However, night terrors are forgotten the other day and nightmares can be remembered.

The Length of Dreams

The lengths of dreams vary – they can last for a few seconds, and they have known to last for between twenty to thirty minutes. The reason why some dreamers are able to recall their dreams is that they have been woken up during the REM phase of sleep. They tend to last longer if you have a full eight-hour sleep.

Why Do We Dream? 

Why we dream remains one of biological science’s great unanswered questions. There are many theories – memory consolidation or emotional regulation – but a solid reason or cause is never found. 

Dreams are one of the best ways to see into your subconscious and find out about your hidden most desires and fears. They can inspire you to invent and create things; most of the works of art had been inspired by the dreams of the Artists.


  1. Nakul says:

    I have dreams where i know that I am in a dream and i control it. Been having such dreams since i was a kid. s i grew up, i started heaving much greater control of the dream.
    I used to think i have some weird dream power, but thanks to you, now i know they are called lucid dreams. (so that’s what the song is about!!)

    Also, very oftently, when i sleep after banging my head over some problem (mostly coding related), i dream about how i solved the problem.After i wake up, i try out the same solution and it works.

    Yes. I can remember almost most of my dreams.

    1. Thank you so much for reading Nakul!! I’m glad I was able to help.

  2. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    1. Kay says:

      Haha, thank you for sharing such a nice thing Erika.

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