Dreaming is imaginative play in sleep: A theory of the function of dreams.

This article presents evidence in support of the theory that dreaming is imaginative play in sleep. Both play and dreaming are innate behaviors of our species that have the adaptive, survival-enhancing effect of stretching our minds beyond what is to imagine what might be. To explain why dreaming can best be conceived as a kind of play, the article draws upon research in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, developmental psychology, anthropology, religious studies, and therapeutic practices. The play theory of dreaming is capable of integrating these various sources of evidence into a clear conceptual framework that can account for many aspects of dreaming, including its connections with the biology of sleep, its overlap with the default network, the variability of dream recall, bizarreness, social content, threat simulations, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cultural and religious innovation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)