I read about something called the dream-lag effect. Can you explain what that is?

While dreams often contain autobiographical memories (i.e., personal representations of times, places, associated emotions and other contextual knowledge) relatively few dream reports contain complete episodic memories (i.e., memories of personally lived experiences that reproduce places, actions and characters). However, people's experiences from the previous day (commonly known as day residues) remain the most frequent time referent depicted in dreams and occur in approximately half of all dream reports.

Now, getting to your question, studies on the temporal relationship between daily events and their incorporation into dreams have also revealed a temporal pattern known as the ‘dream-lag effect.’ This term refers to the high level of incorporation of events experienced 5 to 7 days prior to the dream. Hence, the temporal relationship between daily experiences and their subsequent incorporation in dreams can be defined by the day-residue effect (incorporation of material from the day immediately preceding the dream), as well as the dream-lag effect (incorporation into dreams of daytime experiences having occurred approximately one week prior to the dream).  There exist other, more complex, temporal effects on dream content.  You can read more about it here.

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