Fact Sheet: Science Based Resources on Dreams

Welcome to my ever-growing list of resources on dreams. Because do you listen to a podcast, a Clubhouse room or the radio while taking notes? I don’t either. This list started to go with our Clubhouse talk The Science of Dreams and How To Make Sense of Them (I recommend listening to it for context, if you haven’t already).

And now, let’s nerd out on dream research!

Videos

Do our brains keep working on our problems while we sleep? Absolutely, says professor of neuroscience Matthew Wilson. He shares his research on dreaming rats in a Tedx talk.

Neuropsychologist Mark Solms gives an overview of the history of dream research, debunking the activation-synthesis theory of dreaming in the process. (In short: no, dreams aren’t random brain farts).

Research Papers That I Mentioned

Our dreaming brains aren’t that different from our waking brains, shows this clever research published in Nature Neuroscience. For a good summary, see this article: “If a volunteer reported hearing speech in their dream, it would correlate with the region of the brain responsible for language and understanding; if they dreamt about people, the region responsible for facial recognition was ignited. This means that we probably use the same areas of the brain during dreaming, as we do when awake”.

Our emotions in dreams relate to our emotions in the day. There’s too much research done on this topic to give a full list, but I especially liked this one, seeing dreams from a positive psychology perspective.

Another example is the current ongoing research on Covid dreams. The stress of the pandemic is clearly seen in the dream examples. This New York Times article is a great summary (behind a paywall, sorry, but definitely worth a mention).

Books

Looking for a science heavy book about the latest dream research? I recommend When Brains Dream, Exploring the Science & Mystery of Sleep by Antonio Zadra (Université de Montreal) and Robert Stickgold (Harvard Medical School). Bonus: these two world renown researchers throw in their own theory about the function of dreams.

Examples of people who woke up with great ideas can be found in The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving-And How You Can Too. Deirdre Barrett (Harvard Medical School) has packed this book with well-researched examples, and tells you how to solve a problem in your sleep.

Are you a therapist, coach or counselor and interested in working with your clients’ dreams? Awesome! There are many great books and trainings. Personally, I very much enjoyed Dream Work in Therapy: Facilitating Exploration, Insight, and Action by Clara Hill. For a description of different ways to work with dreams in a therapeutic setting, I recommend Working with Dreams and PTSD Nightmares, 14 Approaches for Psychotherapists and Counselors.

Blogs

This is a living document, giving you some of my favorite books, articles and videos. I started it in in November 2021, and will keep adding whenever I find a new favorite. Please let me know if you have a resource for me to share, or if you have a question. We might do a Clubhouse room about it. Because there’s so much more to tell…