Dream duration

Is there any consensus on how long dreams take? My googling suggests that some folk say they occur in an instant, and others say they are in real time.

If they are faster than real time, how does the brain process certain information so quickly? Does it really only get snapshots and then fills in the blanks? Or is the brain capable of processing information at hyperspeeds when not impeded by consciousness? Or, do dreams just consist of various “sensations” that the waking mind subsequently fills in?

For example, last night I had a very vivid, lengthy dream that took place over a couple of days. (I know this occurred in the final 90 minutes of sleep, as I had gotten up to use the bathroom.) During part of it, I was in someone’s basement, looking at at least 100 aquaria. I spent a good deal of time looking at each aquarium, and when I woke could tell you specifics about a great number of them. And I recalled detailed conversations the owner and I had about his various aquaria and their inhabitants.

So - let’s take a dream conversation that seemed to last at least a couple of minutes. When conscious, I am only able to process verbal information at a certain maximum speed. Is my limitation the result of my brain, or the physiology of my inner ear? When I woke, I could have told you in detail what the guy and I discussed about in several different lengthy conversations, often word-for-word.

Similarly, even if I were simply trying to remember 100 pictures of fish tanks, it would take me a little while to meaningfully internalize the information. If the 100 pictures were all displayed as on a contact sheet and flashed before my eyes, I would retain little. Similar if they were in a stack and just flipped through.

Or does my dream consist of nothing other than the triggering of my brain in a manner that creates the sensation of having seen 100 aquaria, and upon awaking I don’t realize that I am making up a story to fill out that sensation?

No cite, but your ability to “process reality” depends greatly on your working and short term memories. I’ve always felt that dreams were just false short-term/working memories that are interpreted in a “Where the heck am I?” sort of processing during waking. Sure it might seem like the dream had duration of hours, but that’s just might be interpretation of the neural states left over from whatever your brain did whilst sleeping.