Dream Recall and Its Relationship to Sleep, Perceived Stress, and Creativity Among Adolescents



      To explore associations between dream recall, gender, sleep, perceived stress, and creativity in a large sample of adolescents. In adults, women report a higher frequency of dream recall than men. Moreover, increased awakenings seem to increase dream recall, whereas low sleep quality is associated with low dream recall. In addition, there is some evidence that dream recall is associated with personality traits such as creativity. For adolescents, comparable data from larger samples are missing to date.


      A total of 5,580 adolescents (mean age: 18.23 years; 3,711 females and 1,869 males) participated in the present study. Participants completed an Internet-administered questionnaire related to dreaming, sleep, perceived stress, and creativity.


      As compared with males, female adolescents reported a higher dream recall rate and felt a stronger impact of dreams on the subsequent day. Female adolescents also described themselves as more creative, and reported suffering more from sleep complaints and perceived stress. Multiple regression analyses further revealed that increased dream recall was independently predicted by factors such as female gender, sleep quality, and creativity, whereas perceived stress, awakenings during the night, and sleep duration had no predictive value.


      Similar to the findings of studies conducted on adults, dream recall was also associated with female gender in a large sample of adolescents. Additionally, it seemed that several different factors such as good mood, increased sleep quality, and creativity influenced dream recall. These results can provide a basis for better understanding the psychology of dreams in adolescence. In contrast to nightmares, recalling dreaming is associated with health and well-being.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. Palagini L, Rosenlicht N. Sleep, dreaming, and mental health: A review of historical and neurobiological perspectives. Sleep Med Rev (in press).

        • Freud S.
        The interpretation of dreams.
        Modern Library Edition [first publication in German: 1900]. Random House Inc, Toronto, Ontario, Canada1994
        • Schredl M.
        Characteristics and contents of dreams.
        Int Rev Neurobiol. 2010; 92: 135-154
        • Fosse R.
        • Stickgold R.
        • Hobson J.A.
        Brain-mind states: Reciprocal variation in thoughts and hallucinations.
        Psychol Sci. 2001; 12: 30-36
        • Hartmann E.
        Outline for a theory on the nature and functions of dreaming.
        Dreaming. 1996; 6: 147-170
        • Cartwright R.
        The contribution of the psychology of sleep and dreaming to understanding sleep-disordered patients.
        Sleep Med Clin. 2008; 3: 157-166
      2. Kirov R, Brand S. Nightmares as predictors of psychiatric disorders in adolescence. Curr Trends Neurol (in press).

        • Roberts J.
        • Lennings C.J.
        Personality, psychopathology and nightmares in young people.
        Pers Individ Dif. 2006; 41: 733-744
        • Domhoff G.W.
        • Hall C.S.
        Finding meaning in dreams: A quantitative approach.
        Plenum, New York, NY1996
        • Schredl M.
        • Piel E.
        Interest in dream interpretation: A gender difference.
        Dreaming. 2008; 18: 11-15
        • Schredl M.
        Explaining the gender difference in dream recall frequency.
        Dreaming. 2010; 20: 96-106
        • Schredl M.
        • Doll E.
        Emotions in diary dreams.
        Conscious Cogn. 1998; 7: 634-646
        • Schredl M.
        The effect of dreams on waking life.
        Sleep Hypn. 2000; 2: 120-124
        • Pesant N.
        • Zadra A.
        Dream content and psychological well-being: A longitudinal study of the continuity hypothesis.
        J Clin Psychol. 2006; 62: 111-121
        • Hartmann E.
        Boundaries in the mind.
        Basic Books, New York, NY1965
        • Schechter N.
        • Schmeidler G.R.
        • Staal M.
        Dream reports and creative tendencies in students of arts, sciences and engineering.
        J Consult Psychol. 1965; 29: 415-421
        • Belicki K.
        Recalling dreams: An examination of daily variation and individual differences.
        in: Gackenbach J. Sleep and Dreams. Garland, New York, NY1986: 187-206
        • Pagel J.F.
        • Shocknesse S.
        Dreaming and insomnia: Polysomnographic correlates of reported dream recall frequency.
        Dreaming. 2007; 17: 140-151
        • Nielsen T.A.
        • Zadra A.L.
        • Simard V.
        • et al.
        The typical dreams of Canadian University students.
        Dreaming. 2003; 13: 211-235
        • DeCicco T.L.
        Dreams of female university students: Content analysis and the relationship to discovery via the Ullman method.
        Dreaming. 2007; 17: 98-112
        • Salem M.
        • Ragab M.A.
        • Razik A.Y.A.
        Significance of dreams among United Arab Emirates University students.
        Int J Dream Res. 2009; 2: 29-32
        • King D.B.
        • DeCicco T.L.
        Dream relevance and the continuity hypothesis.
        Dreaming. 2009; 19: 207-217
        • Schafer J.L.
        • Graham J.W.
        Missing data: Our view of the state of the art.
        Psychol Methods. 2002; 2: 147-177
        • Mangunkusumo R.T.
        • Moorman P.W.
        • Van Den Berg-de Ruiter A.E.
        • et al.
        Internet-administered adolescent health questionnaires compared with a paper version in a randomized study.
        J Adolesc Health. 2005; 36: 70.e1-70.e6
        • Vereecken C.A.
        • Maes L.
        Comparison of a computer-administered and paper-and-pencil-administered questionnaire on health and lifestyle behaviors.
        J Adolesc Health. 2006; 38: 426-432
        • Wang Y.C.
        • Lee C.M.
        • Lew-Ting C.Y.
        • et al.
        Survey of substance use among high school students in Taipei: Web-based questionnaire versus paper-and-pencil questionnaire.
        J Adolesc Health. 2006; 37: 289-295
        • Bastien C.H.
        • Vallières A.
        • Morin C.M.
        Validation of the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) as an outcome measure for insomnia research.
        Sleep Med. 2001; 2: 297-307
        • Buysse D.J.
        • Reynolds C.F.
        • Monk T.H.
        • et al.
        The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: New instrument for psychiatric practice and research.
        Psychiatry Rev. 1989; 28: 193-213
        • American Psychiatric Association
        Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
        (Accessed November 19, 2010)
        • Backhaus J.
        • Riemann D.
        Schlafstörungen bewältigen [coping with sleep complaints].
        GER, Beltz Psychologie Verlags Union, Weinheim, Germany1996
        • Brand S.
        • Gerber M.
        • Pühse U.
        • Holsboer-Trachsler E.
        Depression, hypomania and dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions as mediators between stress and insomnia: The best advise is not always found on the pillow.
        Int J Stress Manag. 2010; 17: 114-134
        • Welch B.L.
        The generalization of “Student's” problem when several different population variances are involved.
        Biometrika. 1947; 34: 28-35
        • Brand S.
        • Gerber M.
        • Hatzinger M.
        • Beck J.
        • et al.
        High exercise levels are related to favorable sleep patterns and psychological functioning in adolescents: A comparison of athletes and controls.
        J Adolesc Health. 2010; 46: 133-141
        • Köthe M.
        • Pietrowsky R.
        Behavioral effects of nightmares and their correlations to personality patterns.
        Dreaming. 2001; 11: 43-52
        • Barrett D.
        The committee of sleep: How artists, scientists, and athletes use dreams for creative problem-solving—And how you can too.
        Crown, New York, NY2001