Do babies dream? The answer, quite simply is, yes - as far as we can tell.
Dr Charles P Pollak, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine in New York, points out that newborn infants all display REM sleep, because you can literally see the rapid eye movements under their eyelids.
He explains that this REM behavior is "an evolutionarily old type of sleep that occurs at all life stages, including infancy, and even before infancy, in fetal life."
So it is a well-based inference that babies are dreaming during this REM sleep.
As for the content of babies' dreams, Dr Pollak said: "That is like asking whether your pet dog or cat is dreaming, because they can't communicate, and you can't ask. We presume that infants dream infantile things, but we don't really know what it is that they dream."
If you've ever watched your pet dog sleep, you can sometimes see their feet twitch as if they're dreaming of running. Or sometimes they make little baby barks in their dreams - subdued versions of real life actions. So if your dog dreams about the the thing he loves doing most... what do babies dream about?
"There is some evidence in adults that the direction of eye movement corresponds in a crude way to the content of the dream," Dr Pollak says. "If they are dreaming about walking in a field," he said, "the movement is most likely horizontal. If they dream of looking up at a building or climbing stairs, vertical eye movement is more likely to predominate. We can't go further than that."
Sure, the scientists can't go further than that. But we can have fun guessing. My guess as to what they dream about? Babies dream of lying around pooping their pants, watching the world go by, and searching for giant nipples to suck on...
Here's a good question. If a lucid dream is any dream in which you know you're dreaming, then why aren't we always lucid in dreams? Why doesn't it just become the default state of dreaming? Why do we accept our dreams of flying pigs and dinosaurs as an extension of waking life? What is the mechanism for defaulting to non-lucid dreams? Intriguingly, scientists have approached this question from three different angles./p>
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?