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Do Dreams Have Meaning?

"Do Dreams Have Meaning?" artwork. Person sleeping in bed.

Transcript-Do Dreams Have Meaning
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Come on a trip to Dreamland, as we explore the history of dreaming - and how science changed their meaning, forever. Our guide is Sidarta Ribiero, neuroscientist and author of “The Oracle of Night.” We’ll travel back to ancient times when gods and goddesses appeared in dreams, visit the offices of Dr. Sigmund Freud, and watch as an 8 year old boy contributes to a huge scientific breakthrough - while he slept. Plus, we’ll send you off to sleep with the three steps to exploring the meaning of your dreams. Let’s get dreaming!


Sidarta Ribiero is a neuroscientist who lives and works in Brazil. He is the author of "The Oracle of Night: The History and Science of Dreams." It's a great book for grownups!

Photo of Sidarta Ribiero

Sidarta has done a lot of interesting interviews about his book! Here's one from This Week in Science, hosted by another Tumble guest, Dr. Kiki Sanford.

Additional information about the discovery of REM sleep in our episode came from this Smithsonian article: The Stubborn Scientist Who Unraveled a Mystery of the Night.


Watch this video and answer: Is this dog dreaming?

It's impossible to know what animals dream about, because they can't share their dreams like humans do. (Although, Bunny the dog may eventually prove otherwise.) But there is evidence of dreams in many animals.

Just as the dog runs in his sleep, octopuses change colors during sleep.

Scientists are trying to answer many questions about animal dreams. Here are a few articles on the topic: What do Animals Dream About - BBC Future

Do Animals Dream? - Ask Dr. Universe


There are so many fascinating questions about why we dream. Our friends at "Be Smart" (formerly, It's Okay to Be Smart) has this take:

The wonderful BBC podcast, The Curious Case of Rutherford and Fry, tackles another dream question from a 9 year old.


Are you interested in exploring your own dreamland? Keep a dream journal! Here's Sidarta's 3 easy steps:

  1. Talk about what you want to dream about before falling asleep.

  2. After you wake up, stay in bed. Grab a journal and write down everything you remember about your dream.

  3. Tell your dream to others. Talk about what it might mean.

Repeat these steps every night, until patterns in your dream appear! This can help you understand the meaning of your dreams.


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