Psychologists claim brief discussion of REM and non-REM dreams can provide personal insights

Researchers from Swansea University and other universities will attend British Science Week 2016 this week to discuss the results of a major Bial Foundation-funded study conducted in the Swansea University Sleep Laboratory.

This is the first study to collect dreams in the laboratory from Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep, and to then discuss the dream reports in a dream group so as to draw connections between dream content and recent waking life.

The study found that following 30-40 minutes discussion of dreams that had been reported in the sleep laboratory, 50% of the REM dream discussions resulted in a realisation about the dreamer’s self, or about other people who the dreamer knows, or about the life of the dreamer. Participants also reported a daydream while awake in the sleep lab and this was also discussed, as a control condition. Participants reported that they learned more about issues in their waking life from working with the dream than from working with the daydream.   

These and other results from the study will be presented by researchers from Swansea University (Professor Mark Blagrove, Elaine van Rijn, Chris Edwards and Dr Alexander Reid), Lyon Neurosciences Institute (Professor Perrine Ruby), the University of East London (Dr Josie Malinowski), and in collaboration with Harvard Medical School.

Professor Mark Blagrove said: “We are interested in how the potential incorporation of recent waking life and concerns into dream content may relate to frontal brain activity while dreaming, as previously presented by us at the 2014 Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting in Boston. We will explain the rationale and neuroscience behind these research questions.” Following the presentation there will be a series of interactive dream group discussions in workshops led by the researchers. With several dream group leaders present, there will be three workshops, each of up to 15 people with the opportunity of each workshop discussing dreams from the members of the public who are present. All discussion will be treated confidentially.

The method used is detailed in the recent publication in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The presentation entitled Insight from the consideration of REM and non-REM dreams will take place on 20 March at 5pm – 8pm at the Freud Museum, London, during British Science Week 2015 (11-20 March 2016). 

Professor Blagrove will be available for interviews during Science Week, and can attend radio and television studios in London.