One day, everyone in the world will have an easy and private way to enter their dreams into a collective database we can all access and study.
If that were possible, if such a massive database existed, we could learn so much not only about dreams but also about consciousness, culture, and the evolution of our species. The work I’ve been doing to develop the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb) has aimed at laying some initial scientific foundations for the day when this vision of a universal dream portal and archive becomes a reality.
This year I’ve had the honor of serving as an advisor for three doctoral dissertations in the study of dreams. Dianne Jackie Frost at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Cynthia S. Sauln at Sofia University, and Mary Walsh at San Francisco Theological Seminary have done highly innovative work in exploring some of the most important and potentially transformative aspects of dreaming experience. ... [Read more of this post]
Why is it so hard to remember dreams? Scientific evidence dating back to the 1950’s has shown the brain is active in various ways throughout the sleep cycle. Yet when we wake up we often can’t remember more than a few fleeting images that disappear from our minds almost immediately. Why can’t we recall more of what we experienced while asleep? As a partial answer to that... [Read more of this post]
Many years ago a student told me a story about her childhood dreams that still haunts me. It’s not a happy story—in fact I find it incredibly sad—but it’s kept me thinking about what we know, and don’t know, about the potentials of dreaming. Wanda (a pseudonym) was a student in a religious studies course I taught for upper level undergraduates at Santa Clara University. ... [Read more of this post]
On July 17, 1990 President George H.W. Bush initiated the “Decade of the Brain” by making an official proclamation that began with these words: “The human brain, a 3-pound mass of interwoven nerve cells that controls our activity, is one of the most magnificent—and mysterious—wonders of creation. The seat of human intelligence, interpreter of senses, and controller of... [Read more of this post]
I’ve just started writing a blog on sleep and dreams for the Huffington Post—let me know what you think! Initially I’ll focus on children’s dreams, using material from the book I co-wrote with my mother, then eventually I’ll broaden the scope and write about new developments in dream research and cultural expressions of dreaming. Here’s a link to the first post,... [Read more of this post]
A couple of weeks ago Anne Hill, host of Dream Talk Radio, invited me to talk about the book I recently co-authored with my mother, Children’s Dreams: Understanding the Most Memorable Dreams and Nightmares of Childhood (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012). Here’s a Youtube link to our discussion, which I thought was really fun. Below I’ve posted some additional review... [Read more of this post]
In the current issue of the IASD journal Dreaming (Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 240-252) I have an article with results of a blind word search analysis of a teenage girl’s dream series. (Many thanks to the anonymous dreamer, “Bea,” and to Bill Domhoff for mediating our interactions.) The article is my latest effort at developing a method of using statistical patterns in word... [Read more of this post]
The Sleep and Dream Database has just added a new series of dreams to its collection, thanks to the generosity of Robert Bosnak. In his 1996 book Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming he included an appendix with a series of 51 dreams recorded during a seven-week period of travel and personal transition. With his permission I have transcribed and uploaded this series into the SDDb, where... [Read more of this post]
What do people dream about when they have lucid dreams? What’s going on in the dream when someone has the realization, “I am dreaming”? Here’s another example of how the word search function of the SDDb can help get a research project started. The database includes a set of surveys (Demographic Survey 2012) in which the participants were asked to describe a... [Read more of this post]
Here’s a good example of how to use the word search function of the Sleep and Dream Database. It focuses on “visitation dreams,” i.e., dreams in which people who are dead appear as if alive. These vivid and highly memorable dreams have been reported in cultures all over the world, in many periods of history. People today still experience visitation dreams with... [Read more of this post]
In the previous post I noted that my monthly average ZQ over the past 3+ years (August 6, 2009 to December 19, 2012) has regularly hovered around 90, with the highest monthly average being 96 and the lowest 86. Now, looking more closely at the data, I can see that my worst and best nights of sleep varied quite dramatically from that median, in both directions. The ZQ is the Zeo... [Read more of this post]
Last night (December 19, 2012) I recorded my 1001st night of sleep data using the Zeo sleep monitoring system. I first started using the Zeo on August 6, 2009, and have worn it 81.25% of the time since (1001 out of 1232 nights). Most of the non-Zeo nights have been due to miscellaneous technical problems. I was surprised at how quickly I acclimated to wearing the headband while sleeping,... [Read more of this post]