Dreaming is a basic function of the brain and reflects the waking life of the dreamer. This entry covers the changes in dream content across a dreamer’s life span, which are closely related to the changes in waking life. For example, children dream about animals, young adults about friends and romantic partners, and older persons about family members. The question about the possible functions of dreaming is still very challenging for empirical dream research.


Dreaming is defined as subjective experiences that occur during sleep that are only accessible if the dreamer can recollect them after waking up. Sleep laboratory studies in which the sleeping person is awakened several times during the night indicate that dreaming is very likely present during all sleep stages; sleep onset, normal ...

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