• Question: how often does an average person get dreams every week

    Asked by 995memp34 to Nadine, Alex on 15 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Alex Reid

      Alex Reid answered on 15 Nov 2018: last edited 15 Nov 2018 4:43 pm

      Hi 995memp34, this a really good question. Dreams are very hard to measure and as scientists if we can’t measure something there is no science! Counting the amount of dreams would require waking people up and asking them, but that would disrupt the dream. Also, they are forgotten very quickly, so people might not say they were dreaming when they really were. Despite these issues we have come to some general conclusions about sleep and dreaming over the years. Firstly, we dream a lot, most people dream when we measure it under controlled conditions (the sleep laboratory) even if they report themselves as infrequent dreamers in everyday life. This probably relates to the memory issue I mentioned above. Secondly, you can dream at any point in your sleep cycle. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep for years was thought to be the only ‘dream stage’ (in fact it used to be called ‘dream sleep’). As we have developed a better understanding of sleep and dreaming we now know you can dream any time you are asleep, although they quality of the dreams may vary across the sleep cycle (for example dreams in REM sleep are the most visual). To answer your question directly: we don’t know for sure (but with good reason) but it will be a lot (probably more than you think!).

    • Photo: Nadine Mirza

      Nadine Mirza answered on 16 Nov 2018:

      Hey! This is a pretty awesome question that’s pretty difficult to answer for all the reasons Alex has stated and since he’s the sleep researcher he’s know!!! But I just wanted to add my two cents because I read a small piece on how much we dream in New Scientist (which is one of the best and most reputable science magazines and worth a read!).
      As Alex said, we don’t dream JUST during REM sleep but throughout the different stages.
      Recent findings suggest we might be dreaming for 95% of our REM sleep and 71% of our non-REM sleep, most if not all of which is forgotten upon waking up. This means we could potentially be dreaming every single night!
      You can have a read here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2127471-we-dream-loads-more-than-we-thought-and-forget-most-of-it/