Sweet Dreams More Common Than Nightmares

Sufficient Sleep Goes With Pleasant Dreams, Survey Shows

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 20, 2004
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 20, 2004 -- Most people have sweet dreams, especially with a good night's sleep. That's what Gallup pollsters found in a telephone survey conducted earlier this month.

About 1,000 American adults participated. Most (65%) said they usually have good dreams.

The numbers were even higher for people who say they get enough sleep. Almost three-quarters of those satisfied sleepers said their dreams were generally good. Only 10% reported bad dreams.

Those who toss and turn aren't as fortunate. Good dreams were less common and bad dreams were more frequent among people who say they would feel better with more sleep. A little more than half (57%) of such people had good dreams; about 20% had bad dreams.

Very few American adults -- 1 in 9 - say they dream nightly, says Gallup.

If that's not you, don't be jealous. Bad dreams affected 28% of those who say they are nightly dreamers, compared with 9% of those who report dreaming a few times per week and 18% of those who say they are rare dreamers.

Why is that? The Gallup poll can't say. It didn't pinpoint the origins of dreams. That's a task that has fascinated -- and eluded -- people throughout the ages. Plenty of theories have been suggested over the centuries, from foods to psychological issues to prophetic tales. But tracing the science behind dreams is slippery work.

Some surprising findings about slumber were also revealed by the poll.

Contrary to popular belief, America hasn't lost much sleep since 1990. Most adults sleep six to eight hours a night, with seven hours being most frequent (28%).

That's almost the same as in 1990. But since then, Americans have increasingly said they need more sleep. Today, 44% say they would feel better if they slept more.

Do you have trouble sleeping? Take this quick quiz.