When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep

A comprehensive, eye-opening exploration of what dreams are, where they come from, what they mean, and why we have them.

Questions on the origins and meaning of dreams are as old as humankind, and as confounding and exciting today as when nineteenth-century scientists first attempted to unravel them. Why do we dream? Do dreams hold psychological meaning or are they merely the reflection of random brain activity? What purpose do dreams serve?

When Brains Dream addresses these core questions about dreams while illuminating the most up-to-date science in the field. Written by two world-renowned sleep and dream researchers, it debunks common myths while acknowledging the mysteries that persist around both the science and experience of dreaming.

Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold bring together state-of-the-art neuroscientific ideas and findings to propose a new and innovative model of dream function called NEXTUP—Network Exploration to Understand Possibilities. By detailing this model’s workings, they help readers understand key features of several types of dreams, from prophetic dreams to nightmares and lucid dreams. When Brains Dream reveals recent discoveries about the sleeping brain and the many ways in which dreams are psychologically, and neurologically, meaningful experiences; explores a host of dream-related disorders; and explains how dreams can facilitate creativity and be a source of personal insight.

Making an eloquent and engaging case for why the human brain needs to dream, When Brains Dream offers compelling answers to age-old questions about the mysteries of sleep.

Available January 12 2021 (preorder now!)

Praise for When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep

When Brains Dream unveils a novel neuroscientific model comprising an elegant and surprising piece of the puzzle of why we dream the way we do. If you are curious about the curiouser and curiouser qualia of dreams, read this book! — Stephen LaBerge, author of Lucid Dreaming

Every night, we turn out the light and go to the movies. For as long as humans have been conscious of our world, we’ve wondered what’s going on in that other world in which we spend a third of our lives. Some of my strangest dreams have been while I was asleep in Bob Stickgold’s lab. Finally, in When Brains Dream, I have a way to understand them. There’s more here than you ever dreamed of. —Alan Alda, New York Times–bestselling author of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face

Where do we go in our dreams at night? And why do we dream in the first place? Are we the only species that dreams? When Brains Dream provides a truly comprehensive, scientifically rigorous and utterly fascinating account of when, how, and why we dream. Put simply, When Brains Dream is the essential guide to dreaming. — Matthew Walker, New York Times-bestselling author of Why We Sleep

Two sleep and dream researchers illuminate their specialty … Most readers will especially relish the final chapters, which explore nightmares, lucid dreaming, narcolepsy, creativity via dreams, and even how to link a dream to waking-life events. An excellent update on the science behind dreams.  — Kirkus Book Reviews

This smart mix of science and theory hits the mark.  — Publishers Weekly

Comprehensive, easy to understand, ever fascinating, and highly recommended! — Goodreads

A great pick for public libraries and for anyone wanting to know more about why and how we dream. — Goodreads

If this is a topic of interest for you, you don't want to miss this book! — Goodreads

Absolutely love it when I can read a well-organized, evidence-based non-fiction book that superbly summarizes what we know about an important area of human behavior. Sleep and dreaming are certainly important and this new WW Norton book, When Brains Dream, does a phenomenal job of synthesizing and sharing what we know about dreams (and sleep). Not only does this book help me strengthen the way I teach these key concepts, but it also offered insights that are personally beneficial. — Goodreads