9781324002833 198

When Brains Dream

Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep

January 2021

Antonio Zadra (Author), Robert Stickgold (Author)


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—that we only dream in REM sleep, for example—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.


"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, author of Why We Sleep

"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?

"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

"Drawing on decades of research, sleep scientists Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold detail their new model of how and why we dream – a model that they call NEXTUP, the Network Exploration to Understand Possibilities." — The best popular science books to read in January 2021, Science Focus

"Fascinating. . . When Brains Dream steers a reasonable and broad-minded course between the many interpretive whirlpools that have swallowed previous explorers of dreams." — The Washington Post

"... Bob and Tony have an answer to a problem that’s been puzzling people for 200 years: why do we dream? They explain why we daydream too; why it’s vital for sanity, so for me When Brains Dream has acted as an intervention." — The Spectator

"Reports of bizarre night-time visions have surged during the pandemic… Dreams are vivid and memorable, [Stickgold] points out, and we have a sense that they are telling us something. But what? Since Covid-19 struck, a lot of us are asking that question… The pandemic has caused people to feel more anxious about everything from health to finance. The brain tags such concerns for processing during sleep, according to Stickgold and Zadra in When Brains Dream..." — Hilary Rose, The Times

"A remarkable account of what we know and don’t know about this mysterious thing that happens during the night… When Brains Dream is a rarity among popular science books, one that neither dumbs down the research nor steps outside of what we know, and yet is still a page-turner." — Daniel Levitin, author of The Changing Mind



160 x 236 mm • 336 pages


Add to Basket