The activity that takes place in memory systems during sleep is likely to be related to the role of sleep in memory consolidation and learning, as well as to the generation of dream hallucinations. This study addressed the often-stated hypothesis that replay of whole episodic memories contributes to the multimodal hallucinations of sleep. Over a period of 14 days, 29 subjects kept a log of daytime activities, events, and concerns, wrote down any recalled dreams, and scored the dreams for incorporation of any waking experiences. While 65% of a total of 299 sleep mentation reports were judged to reflect aspects of recent waking life experiences, the episodic replay of waking events was found in no more than 1–2% of the dream reports. This finding has implications for understanding the unique memory processing that takes place during the night and is consistent with evidence that sleep has no role in episodic memory consolidation.
These authors contributed equally to this article.