For some, sweet dreams are the best part of our nighttime experience. Soaring through the air like a bird, becoming an Olympic gold medalist, meeting historical figures. Our dreams open doors to fun adventures as our bodies recharge. Of course, on a more serious note, these bedtime movies can be a great way to work through our daily experiences and can help to cement things to memory.
All of these benefits likely leave you wondering, “How long should it take to before I begin dreaming, anyway?” Let’s take a look at what the experts have to say.
Some people might believe that they start to dream immediately after falling asleep, but this is a bit of a misconception. As Psych Central notes, as we are preparing to catch some winks, human beings begin to enter Alpha sleep. This period could be longer or shorter depending on whether or not the sleeper practices mindfulness or meditation.
The Alpha stage is a period in which the body and mind prepare to relax and might be accompanied by daydreams and a hazy feeling that may make these visions feel like actual dreams. Some could also experience realistic physical, visual, or auditory events during this time. It is estimated that people take an average of seven minutes to fall asleep, but we should not actually begin dreaming until much later during the sleep cycle.
About an hour and a half into our slumber experience, we enter REM, or the rapid eye movement portion of rest. This is when the actual dreaming starts. It is at this level that the muscles in the body are at their peak rest, while brain activity peaks.
The REM stage may only be a few minutes long when a person first experiences it. Sleepers go through the various cycles several times in one night, and REM should grow longer each time it comes up in the cycle. This should also dictate the length at which your dreams last, as they happen in real time.
So, there you have it. On average, it should take approximately 90 minutes to start your nightly adventures. But how long it lasts depends on the amount of time you are able to sustain deep REM sleep, so be sure to practice mindfulness and meditation techniques that promote deeper sleep! Feel free to check out this handy guide for tips on how to ensure your your bedtime is free of stressful nightmares. Or learn how to take control through lucid dreaming.
Author: Carolyn Burke
Carolyn is a horror and musical nerd. If there's blood and gore or singing and dancing (or both!) she's probably watched or read it … twice. She spends her days writing, editing and learning everything she can about the fascinating world of sleep health. Her evenings are spent playing board games with her husband, two kids, and tuxedo cat. As for hobbies, those include building models, playing video games (mostly ones with really good storytelling), and napping any time she's alone in the house.