Sleep Med Psychophysiol.  1996 Dec;3(2):43-55.

Sleep and Dream Development in Children

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Since REM sleep was found to be closely related with dream, efforts have been made to find the neurophysiological mechanism and the psychological meaning of dream. However, since most researchers have paid attention to dreams of adults, there are relatively few studies devoted to those of developing children. In the prevent study, we reviewed the previous studies and hypotheses about sleep and dream in various aspects and summarized the characteristics of sleep and dream of children in developmental domain as followings. (1) Sleep development : Across childhood, sleep architecture and sleep-wakefulness cycles are progressively changed toward the patterns of adult. They become similar to adult patterns only in their adolescence. Thus, the sleep event sconsidered as abnormal in adults may be normal in children. (2) Dream development : First, the content and meaning of the dream change with increasing age and develop in parallel with children's ego function, especially cognitive developmental stages. Second, for the children, the reality and the dream are on the continuous spectrum of 'reality-imitation-play-fantasy-dream'. Third, dreaming is the pure assimilation process for the children and through dreaming they can adapt and accomodate the reality without emotion.


REM sleep; Dream; Development; Cognitive process
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