A new British study has found that people have more wonderful and weird dreams when there is a full moon.
The study has indicated that people’s dreams do not vary according to the days of the week or the seasons. However, during the week around a full moon, they certainly become weirder and more bizarre.
This discovery was made by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, who did an analysis of the experiences of 1,000 volunteers who were exposed to different sounds whilst asleep.
He found that there were instances of a person dreaming that they were flying while seated on a dragon, got off the dragon and proceed to have a coffee with George Clooney. Some of the volunteers dreamt that they were superheroes, such as Superman or Batman, fighting crime. Other would dream about more normal events, such as sitting typing all day in the office.
According to Swiss research done last year, it was found that people now take much longer to fall asleep, sleep for around 20 minutes less and they sleep less soundly when there is a full moon. People’s production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin has become altered and Professor Wiseman is of the opinion that this is why we suffer disturbed dreams.
An alternative, much stranger explanation is that humans have evolved to a state of sensitivity to the rhythms of the moon. If this is the case, lighter sleep during the full moon would have ensured that we were more alert to predators who may also have taken advantage of the increased light for hunting.
It is possible that our ancestors may have hunted during a full moon, hence we still have trouble in settling down on these bright nights.
Professor Wiseman is not totally convinced by this evolutionary explanation, but he acknowledges that our sleep pattern is affected by the moon.
Professor Wiseman made a strange discovery while he was analysing the dreams of those who listened to different sounds while they slept. Approximately 500,000 participated by using a free mobile phone app which plays the different noises. The user of the app is required to set an alarm. If the motion sensor of the phone detects that the user is dreaming in the 40 minutes prior to the alarm going off, the sounds start playing. After the alarm has been activated, the user is asked to record the dream they had.
We are apparently most likely to remember the dreams we have just before we awaken.
A study related to 1,000 records indicated that rustling grass and birdsong led us to dream about flowers and greenery, whilst the sounds of seagulls led us to dreams of being on a beach. Unsettled dreams were provoked by traffic and car horns.
Professor Wiseman says that a discovery able to provide people with sweet dreams has been made and could be used as a basis for a new psychological therapy.
Image credit: bill mulder