This chapter addresses the question of whether or not dreams are merely the random side effects of the brain’s activities in sleep. Many people through history have dismissed dreams as nothing more than the arbitrary and nonsensical by-products of the brain’s diminished functioning in sleep. The chapter presents evidence from several systematic, empirical studies of dream content that reveal a number of consistent, recurrent patterns of dreaming that can be objectively observed and measured in various populations. After an extended discussion of the relationship of REM sleep and dreaming, the chapter presents the results of dream content studies going back more than a century. Supporting the argument in this chapter are findings from the SDDb Baselines, a collection of 5,245 dream reports from several scientific sources that have been carefully analyzed using digital word search methods to identify recurrent patterns of content.
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