Vitamin water and zinc may play some role in dreaming, but after class, I was still interested in understanding the influence of individual creativity in dreaming. I was disappointed to see that at least in terms of my own PsycInfo search, there were no empirical studies about creative intelligence and dreaming. Of course, my search was full of the creative interpretation of dreams, and I found something called “social dreaming”. Social dreaming is the process of exploring and finding the social importance of dreams by sharing dreams with others. The website is an interesting one in terms of our discussion on the purpose of dreaming.
Now for an interesting historical finding in terms of the importance of dreaming: On May 23, 1960, an article appeared in Time magazine titled “Medicine: To Sleep…to dream“. At an APA meeting, Dr. William Dement, a research fellow in psychiatry presented his findings of a sleep study that suggested that dreaming was in fact more important than sleep. In his study, Dement prevented some subjects from dreaming, while others were allowed to dream. The non-dreaming subjects were awoken prior to dreaming, while the dreaming subjects were awoken immediately following their dreams, meaning all subjects slept the same amount of time. On subsequent nights, non-dreamers tried to dream more often, as evidenced in an EEG. Despite sleeping the same amount, the participants that did not dream were more irritable. Dement suggested that even if getting adequate sleep, deprivation from dreaming can result in hallucinations as a substitute for dreams. He said, “We believe that if anybody were deprived of dreams long enough, it might result in some sort of catastrophic breakdown.”
We now know that dreaming occurs during REM sleep and non-dreaming participants were prevented from entering REM. I think this likely is a better explanation of why the non-dreaming participants were more irritable, but it is interesting to see the thoughts concerning the importance of dreaming back in the day given dreaming’s purpose is till up in the air.