Sometimes you go to bed, and have a dream that feels like an entire lifetime, only to wake up and find you haven’t been asleep long enough for you to have had such a long dream.
This begs the question, how long do dreams last, really?
If we’re talking subjectively, as in dream time, then there’s really no way to judge that. Plus, if you’re an experienced lucid dreamer, you’d know that trying to look at a clock in your dream is pointless, because it such details as numbers, or letters, are hardly ever stable in dreams. So the best way to answer this question, is by looking at how long it takes in this reality, where we can concretely measure time.
The first thing to note about the process of dreaming, is that it tends to happen during the phase of sleep called “Rapid Eye Movement” or REM. REM takes up a good 20 percent of nighttime sleep.
If you’ve ever watched someone sleep – hopefully a loved one or a friend, or a subject for your research, because any other circumstance would be creepy – you might have noticed at some point that it appears their eyes are moving about really fast behind their eye lids.
During this time, they’re in the middle of a dream! So maybe time to test out your inception skills. Or not.
Back to the question on hand. How long do dreams last? Dreams have been observed to happen a good number of times throughout the night, and there is no definite duration.
They can last anywhere from three minutes, to fifty minutes, tops, in extreme cases. There are a lot of factors that could determine the length of your dream, including your health, if you’ve been getting enough REM sleep, or for some reason have not had as much as you should, if you use substances like marijuana, which has been known to suppress REM sleep, and so on.
The length of your dream can also be affected by the kind of person you are. If you tend to be imaginative, love to visualize, practice meditation, and/or are introverted, you just might find yourself having much longer dreams than the average person.
As you probably can tell, there’s really no definite time frame for how long dreams last. But! If you’re interested in making your dreams last longer, you really should look into learning how to have lucid dreams.
If you’ve ever been in a dream and suddenly realized you were dreaming, there are things you can do to remain in your dream longer. The first and most important thing to do, when you realize you’re dreaming, is to remain calm. If you get too excited, you just might find yourself back in your bedroom.
Next, try rubbing your palms together. This helps to keep you more grounded in the dream. You can also try spinning around, just like a tornado would. Yelling is another good way to keep yourself in your dream, and stop yourself from waking up, or forgetting you’re dreaming altogether (yes, realizing you’re dreaming and then forgetting you are tends to happen a fair bit.)