Science Behind Dreams

We are testing the science behind dreams on how your emotions trigger different types of dreams and finding out the science behind dreams
Chloe Page Yuna Kim
Grade 6


Our hypothesis is that we think emotions trigger different dreams because when you're stressed about something or are worried or scared you have a higher tendency to have nightmares or bad dreams. We also think that when our minds clearing before bed dreams start to form because they're bringing in all the emotions and thoughts from the day and pushing them all together to form a dream.


The science behind dreams: Dreams don't really mean anything our brain just pulls random thoughts and imagination from our mind. Dreams mostly occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. Scientists experimented. They used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure which sleep stage people were in. The people who were in the REM stage remembered their dreams while people who wake up in a different stage did not. Another study found that vivid, strange and emotional dreams (the dreams that people usually remember) are linked to parts of the amygdala (processes that helps remember emotional responses) and hippocampus (important in short and long term memory)Another study found that less REM sleep reduces our ability to understand complex emotions. And a different study found that dreams are generated or transmitted through the right inferior lingual gyrus (located in the visual cortex)

Why do we dream: Dreams help us process emotions by creating memories of them. This way we have the memory of the emotion but the emotion is no longer active. The studies done about dreams have shown that dreams are linked to structures in the brain responsible for memories and that dreaming and is linked to emotions. This lowers our anxiety. Studies have shown that every REM sleep deprivation has been linked to mental disorders

What causes dreams: Dreams are caused by a brainstem activation REM sleep. Some people think certain dreams are warnings but those are just theories, and scientists have deemed dreams as meaningless and that they are just simply electrical brain impulses that randomly pull thoughts and imagery from our memories. Well, why do we dream what we dream? Some theories suggest dreaming is a means by which the brain processes emotion, memories, and information that has been absorbed throughout the waking day. So what causes strange dreams? Strange dreams are caused by stress or traumatic events. Some of the most common dreams are being chased, flying, driving, death and falling. Personally, when I was younger I had quite a lot of dreams of falling off my balcony, and it actually felt like I was falling, so I can confirm that one

How long do dreams last: There are 5 stages of sleep, and most vivid dreams happen in REM sleep. Dreaming can happen in other stages but we usually don’t remember it. Our brain goes into and out of REM every 1.5 to 2 hours. REM stages can last as short as 5 minutes and as long as 20 minutes. During your sleep, we spend about ¼ of the time in REM sleep. Some dreams can last a few seconds but usually, it lasts 20 to 30 minutes. You usually have 4 to 6 even Mabey 7 dreams per night. Nightmares usually happen later during our sleep.


Some variables could be watching different types of movies to see those effects. Another variable could be not watching a movie at all, instead of reading a book or drawing. We believe that these variables would vary in results just like the four we tested but would come off with a similar format and the general idea but not results because each has its own results. 

The different variables for us were that when you're doing the project you will have similar results but each has its own bit of spice. For example, for our sad movie ones our results differ, I (Chloe) found losing my family really sad whereas, Yuna and Lauren found losing a pet very sad, I for instance don't have a pet so that didn't come into my emotions.   


Step 1: Watch a movie (different genre each experiment night)

Step 2: Go straight to bed after the movie don't read, watch YouTube, go play a board game with your family, no just go to bed

Step 3: Sleep just rest and dream like usual

Step 4: Wake up and write down your dream 

Step 5: Wait a couple of days to repeat process on another genre

This way we can test our therory behind emotions being connected to dreams. We space out the different parts of the experiment so we can have time to process the first one and then get it out of our heads. We do this because for some movies, example horror movie you will most likely have nightmares the next few nights as well


It seems like when we are sad or upset we have sad or stressful dreams

When we have bad days or are scared we have nightmares 

When we have a good day or we are happy we have good dreams

Most people have similar dreams connected to there emotional state

What we do before we go to bed affects what we dream about.



we looked at how things affect dreams aand these were our results. 



My dream was of a murderer coming out from my bed and killing me


My dream was zombie apocalypse and they were chasing me and i almost died.


Her dream was about a hooded figure chasing her and her friend with a bloody knife

other people=Over 100 people were asked and most of them had dreams of being chased or dying.



After i watched a romantic movie, I had a dream about falling in love with this guy but then he moved away and we meet up later in life


When I watched a romantic movie and the main character got married in my dream I did too.


Had a dream of going to her sister's wedding 

other people=Over 100 people were asked, most people had dreams of their first love or being in a relationship



I had a really sad dream about my family passing away and me being left all alone and I woke up in tears


I had a dream of losing a pet that i loved and waking up by the sensation that i was dropping.


Her dream was about losing her dog and her family left her alone. 

other people=Other people said they have experienced dreams of something they regret in life or family members dying and they have been left alone



I had a really good dream of having fun with my friends hanging and going and doing fun things together


I had a good dream and was laughing and having fun in my dream with other people.


Had a dream about going on a roller coaster and every time they went around something good would happen like winning the lottery or getting a new puppy.

other people=Other people say they had dreams of partying or winning the lottery.

this is what we experenced.


So the question was do our emotions really trigger different types of dreams? Yes they can! Our conclusion is our emotions trigger our dreams it may sound crazy but really our emotions can do a lot of crazy things! Have you ever watched a horror movie and been so scared you had nightmares the next couple of nights? What about a movie that made you cry and you can't go to sleep because these sad thoughts keep popping up. Or a dream that was so good you wish it was real? In summary, our emotions are really strong and can do a lot of crazy things like trigger nightmares and dreams.  The things you watch affect your emotions because they either get you thinking in a certain way or make you remember parts of things and insert them into your own life through a dream. It just shows that our emotions are what cause dreams and affect them and sway them in a certain way. It just shows that our emotions are what cause dreams and affect them and sway them in a certain way. So in conclusion emotions cause dreams, fear causes nightmares, joy/laughter causes good dreams, and stress/sad things cause sad or stressful dreams.



We could use this information to get better dreams and to know what to watch(or not watch) or do if we want a certain dream. For example if we want a good dream and not a scary one we could watch comedy instead of horror to have a happy dream. If we want more of a romantic dream and not a sad one we could watch a romantic movie. We could also improve other peoples dreams by telling them what kind of movies that they should watch according to what kind of dream that they want to have that night. We would now what things influence our dreams and some that doesnt influences as much.

Sources Of Error

Our sources of error are things where we do any sort of measurement or observation. This includes:How people remember their dreams. Dreams are usually difficult to remember so people may have incorrect memories, they may not be describing their dreams accurately or they may be making up their dreams because they don't remember them but feel pressure to report their dream. I (yuna) had to watch some genres of movies twice because i didnt remember my dream. we didnt always remember the dreams we had.