Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable. The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds or approximately 20–30 minutes.
People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, and some may have up to seven; however, most dreams are immediately or quickly forgotten. Dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM. Dreams related to waking-life experiences are associated with REM theta activity, which suggests that emotional memory processing takes place in REM sleep.