Past research on dreams and our biological clock have focused mainly on one nights sleep and have been either largely subjective or have studied a subject brain wave patterns. Subjective studies have probed into the human mind during vegitative states and come out with data that is based with a great amount of human error if you will. In the case of brain pattern research during sleep, the scientists have come out of the experiment with a large amount of numerical data that must be interpreted in a subjective manner.
Methods and Materials:
Our plan is to assemble a survey group of roughly twenty people with diverse backgrounds and ages. The subjects will not have knowledge of goal of the experiment or the identity of the other subjects in order to keep the results accurate. We will give each subject an empty composition notebook to serve as their dream journal for the next week. Upon waking each morning, they will write down a general account of the night's dreams and answer a series of questions about them. The frequency of colors appearing, the length of the dream, its intensity and other factors will be rated on a numerical scale. At the end of the week, we will collect the notebooks and pass them on (with the previous subjectís writings removed) to the next set of people. We will test the validity of Cherokee dream beliefs using information sent to us by a member of the tribe. If our hypothesis is correct, weather patterns and star positions should have a discernible effect on the themes, duration, and intensity of the group's dreams.
Hopefully, by keeping the subjects unaware of the exact nature of the study and of others involved, we will keep fictitious dream reports to a minimum. If subjects are unable to recall their dreams from the previous night, we will ask that they simply write that down, as it is a useful piece of information as well (overcast skies traditionally mean that dreams will be forgotten).
We plan to have the class process data rather than collect it, as the collection is fairly simple and won't require much time. Using Statview, they will enter the numerical results from the surveys and give us something visual to aid in our interpretation. Everyone in the class has worked with the program before (although mastery of it is quite another matter!), and should be able to handle the data input and return meaningful results.
The materials needed aren't very extensive - composition notebooks and the computers in the lab. Each subject will use the same notebook for the course of their week and will not have access to anyone else's notebook.
Once the notebooks have been distributed, the total period of study will be one month, approximately one lunar cycle. We chose this experiment length to allow us to observe the effect of the moon, in all its stages, on dreams as well as that of clouds and stars. If time permitted, we would have planned it for two lunar cycles to allow for some kind of comparison. As it stands, though, the data should be accurate, provided that we impress upon the test subjects the importance of honesty in the dream journals. The primary risk we are running here is that people will fabricate dreams rather than seriously attempt to remember and record them. As there is no real way to double-check what the subjects tell us, we are essentially at their mercy as far as the results go. We figure that some kind of small reward may help keep them focused on the task at hand. The bribe, er, reward's exact nature will be decided later and given out when we receive the complete journals.
One possible function of sleep: to produce dreams (Behavioural Brain Research, Volume: 69, Issue: 1-2, July 8, 1995, pp. 203-206 )
Dream Interpretation in Ancient Civilizations (Dreaming, Volume: 10, Issue: 1, March 1, 2000, pp. 7-18 )
A Historical Loop of One Hundred Years: Similarities Between 19th Century and Contemporary Dream Research (Dreaming, Volume: 10, Issue: 1, March 1, 2000, pp. 55-66 )
Lavie, Peretz. 1996. The Enchanted World of Sleep. New Haven:Yale University
Arnoff, Michael S, M.D. Sleep and its Secrets. New York: Plenum
Anch, Michaeal A; Browman, Carl P. et al. Sleep: A Scientific Perspective. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Hobson, Allan J. The Dreaming Brain. NewYork: Basic
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