Sleep and Dreaming

Sleep is an essential pillar of wellness, yet getting a proper night's rest on a regular basis is no easy feat. Whether we're battling a sleep disorder, physical illness, or anxious thoughts, plenty of factors can impact our ability to sleep well.

Learn more about what your dreams might be telling you, how to develop better sleep habits, and how your mind uses the downtime to work through unresolved or even unknown issues and feelings.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much sleep do you need by age?

    The amount of sleep we need can vary depending on our age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the amount of sleep we need, by age:

    • Newborns (0 to 3 months old): 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day (including naps)
    • Infants (4 to 12 months old): 12 to 16 hours of sleep per day (including naps)
    • Toddlers (1 to 2 years old): 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day (including naps)
    • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old): 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day (including naps)
    • School-age children (6 to 12 years old): 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day
    • Teenagers (13 to 18 years old): 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day
    • Adults (19 to 60 years old): 7 or more hours of sleep per day
    • Adults (61 to 64 years old): 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day
    • Adults (65 years and above): 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day
  • How can I sleep instantly?

    In order to fall asleep faster, you'll need to retrain your body and develop better sleep habits. Some of the habits to change include not reading and watching TV in bed, altering your behaviors in the hour leading up to sleep, and working on evening eating habits. Some skills you will develop include relaxation, not languishing in bed, and exposing yourself to more daylight.

  • Does dreaming mean good sleep?

    It is possible to experience fragmentary dreams in non-REM sleep. This includes the lighter stages of sleep (called stage 1 and stage 2) and slow-wave sleep (called stage 3). It is believed that the dream content of non-REM is more simplistic. If REM-related dreams are a movie, non-REM dreams may be likened to a photograph.

Key Terms

What to Know About Nightmare Disorder
Dreams About Cheating: Why They Happen and What to Do
“I Wake Up Screaming:” What To Know About Night Terrors
What Is the Connection Between Sleepwalking and Mental Health?
What Are Parasomnias?
What to Know About Deep Sleep
The 11 Best Blackout Curtains of 2022
Dreams About Work: What They Mean and How to Make Them Stop
The 10 Best Sleep Gadgets of 2022
Sex Dreams: What Are They Trying to Tell You?
How Sex and Sleep Can Help Your Migraines
The 9 Best Pillows of 2022
Are You Experiencing Poor Quality Sleep? You May Need a Sleep Study
The 11 Best Pajamas of 2022
The 11 Best White Noise Machines of 2022
The 7 Best Sleep Trackers of 2022, According to Experts
Can You Learn to Lucid Dream?
What Is Melatonin?
The 7 Best Earplugs for Sleeping of 2022
The 11 Best Sleep Masks of 2022
The 6 Best Sunrise Alarm Clocks of 2022
Sunday Scaries: How to Ease Anxiety on Sunday Nights
How to Sleep Better
What Is Insomnia?
9 Things to Do If You Feel Tired All the Time
Is Melatonin Safe In High Doses?
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
What to Do When Someone Has a Night Terror
Here's Why You Might Have the Same Nightmare Over and Over Again
What Is Narcolepsy?
How to Feel Less Tired During the Day
Why You're Not Sleeping Well
7 Breathing Exercises for Better Sleep
Why You Can't Remember Your Dreams When You Wake Up
What Do Your Dreams Really Mean?
How Exactly Does Stress Affect Sleep?
How to Fall Asleep Faster
Manifesting the Content of Dreams and Your Unconscious Thoughts
Why Can't You Sleep? Here Are Some Reasons
Sigmund Freud's Theories of Latent Content in Your Dreams
Researchers Have a Few Different Theories of Why We Sleep
How Does the Activation-Synthesis Model Explain Dreams?
10 Things You Should Know About Dreams
How Sleep Helps the Brain Clean Itself
Why Do We Dream
Why Do People Dream During the REM Stage of Sleep?
5 Characteristics That All Dreams Have in Common
What Other People Really Dream About
Best Sleep Music Apps of 2022
Page Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much sleep do I need?

  2. Martin, J et al. Structural differences between REM and non-REM dream reports assessed by graph analysisPLOS One. 2020 July. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0228903

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Sleep basics.