Our Dreams Have Many Purposes, Changing Across the Lifespan by Patrick McNamara.
Although radically different in terms of their content and feel, the range of dream states are just as complex as waking states. If we look across an individual’s lifetime, we find that children’s dreams are very different from adults’ dreams. Children tend to dream of emotional interactions with family members, friends and scary animals, while adults dream of other adults. Dreams of young adults are filled with social interactions between the dreamer and current friends and significant others. Men’s dreams differ substantially from women’s dreams, with women dreaming equally often of men and women, and men dreaming more often about other men. Older adults tend to dream more about creative works, legacies and enduring concerns, while the dreams of dying people are filled with numbers of supernatural agents, other-worldly settings and images of reunions with a loved one who has died. Dreams that transport the child into the social world of his caretakers during early life gently escort the dreamer into the arms of his loved ones when life is nearing an end. Dreams accompany us literally from the cradle to the grave.