• Question: Is it true that an average dream only lasts milli seconds

    Asked by harriettmay to Alastair, Emma, Hywel, Keith, Vicki on 17 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Alastair Sloan

      Alastair Sloan answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      Hi Harriett

      yes thats probably true. As dreams are just nerves firing in the brain most last milliseconds

    • Photo: Vicki Stevenson

      Vicki Stevenson answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      Actually this is a myth. We dream during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which generally lasts about 90 minutes and we have several cycles of REM sleep each night. Studies looking at brain patterns have found that people are actually fairly good at estimating the duration of their dreams, so if you’ve had a dream and thought it lasted for a certain amount of time, then you were probably right!
      People thought dreams were instantaneous because of the lack of information they could give about dreams when they tried to report them in the morning after they woke up naturally; however, sleep laboratories have found that if people are woken directly from REM sleep, they can remember a significant amount of detail and their brain patterns can be linked to the dreaming period.

    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      “Milliseconds” sounds a bit brief to me. Most dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and bursts of eye movement usually last over a few seconds … so I think that its a bit longer than you suggest, but still much faster than the duration a dream appears to be.