Consciousness in dreams

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2010;92:181-95. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(10)92009-6.


This chapter argues that dreaming is an important state of consciousness and that it has many features that complement consciousness in the wake state. The chapter discusses consciousness in dreams and how it comes about. It discusses the changes that occur in the neuromodulatory environment and in the neuronal connectivity of the brain as we fall asleep and begin our night journeys. Dreams evolve from internal sources though the dream may look different than any one of these since something entirely new may emerge through self-organizing processes. The chapter also explores characteristics of dreaming consciousness such as acceptance of implausibility and how that might lead to creative insight. Examples of studies, which have shown creativity in dream sleep, are provided to illustrate important characteristics of dreaming consciousness. The chapter also discusses the dream body and how it relates to our consciousness while dreaming. Differences and similarities between wake, lucid, non-lucid and day dreaming are explored and the chapter concludes with a discussion on what we can learn from each of these expressions of consciousness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Creativity*
  • Dreams / physiology*
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*