I know that Freud in his "Interpretation of dreams" provides a number of examples of events influencing dreams several days to several months after the event has occurred. For example, a person sees a red bicycle in a shop and a week later may have a dream about riding/fixing/seeing the same type of red bicycle. Freud provides on example where an event took place months before the dream.

My question is: Has there been any research that explained why there can be a long (4-7 days) delay between a real life event and a dream with elements from the event?

Just to clarify, these are not recurring dreams, but single occurrence dreams about past experiences. Typically the delay between the event and the dream is several days.


1 Answer 1


Because memory is consolidated during sleep (and dreaming).



There are also some psychological benefits from easing painful memories.


  • $\begingroup$ I'm aware of memory consolidation, and would expect it to happen on the next night, maybe 2 nights from the event. The phenomenon I'm talking about takes 4+ days and I find it hard to believe that a memory of some trivial details could be lingering around the brain for so long before being consolidated. $\endgroup$
    – Alex Stone
    Apr 22, 2014 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ some memory needs more than 4 days to consolidate (even years to integrate with other memories). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_and_memory $\endgroup$
    – ICanFeelIt
    Apr 22, 2014 at 13:30

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