Reality Pathing

Running in Dreams: Exploring the Science Behind the Phenomenon

Have you ever had a dream where you are running? Perhaps you are being chased by a monster, or you are running towards something important. The sensation of running in a dream can feel surprisingly real, even though you are not physically moving your body. In this article, we will explore the science behind this phenomenon and what it may reveal about our brains.

The Brain during Sleep

Before we delve into the specifics of running in dreams, let’s first understand what happens to our brains during sleep. There are several stages of sleep, but we will focus on two: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep.

During non-REM sleep, our brains are relatively inactive, and our bodies are in a state of rest. However, during REM sleep, our brains become highly active, and this is when we typically dream. During REM sleep, our muscles become temporarily paralyzed to prevent us from acting out our dreams physically. This is known as REM atonia.

The Experience of Running in Dreams

When we dream about running or any other physical activity, our brains create a simulation of that experience. This simulation can feel very real because the brain is essentially tricking itself into thinking that it is actually happening.

During these dreams, our brains are firing the same neurons that would be activated if we were actually running. This creates a sensation of movement and exertion that can be thrilling or terrifying depending on the context of the dream.

The Significance of Running Dreams

So why do we dream about running? There is no one answer to this question as it can vary from person to person. Some people may have recurring running dreams because they lead an active lifestyle or have a fear of being chased. Others may experience these dreams as a result of stress or anxiety.

It is worth noting that not all dreams have a specific meaning, and some may be purely random. However, if you find that you are having recurring running dreams or any other type of dream, it can be helpful to reflect on what may be causing them.

The Connection to Physical Health

While running dreams may not have a direct impact on physical health, they can reveal underlying issues that may need to be addressed. For example, if you are experiencing running dreams because of stress or anxiety, it may be beneficial to explore ways to manage these feelings in your waking life.

Additionally, if you are experiencing physical discomfort or pain while running in your dreams, it may be a sign that there is an underlying issue with your body that needs attention.


Can running dreams be lucid dreams?

Yes, running dreams can be lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are when the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and can sometimes control the content of the dream.

Is it possible to improve physical performance through running dreams?

While running dreams can create a realistic sensation of movement and exertion, they are not a substitute for actual physical activity. However, visualization techniques such as imagining oneself running a race or accomplishing a fitness goal can be helpful in improving performance.

Can meditation reduce the frequency of running dreams?

Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can sometimes be the cause of recurring running dreams. While it may not eliminate these dreams entirely, it can help manage the underlying issues that may be contributing to them.

In conclusion, running dreams can be a fascinating and sometimes perplexing phenomenon. While they may not have a specific meaning for everyone, they can reveal underlying issues that need attention. By understanding the science behind these dreams, we can gain insight into how our brains work during sleep and potentially improve our overall well-being.