BUTTRESS, Ala. -- The answer to many of your problems, says a study done about many of your problems, may be revealed in your dreams.
During sleep, your dreams may present solutions to difficulties you are having in your life (with the possible exception of malignant or benign tumors) within a week after the trouble starts, researchers say.
In a new study, 470 Canadian undergraduate psychology students never known for accomplishing any useable information in the past, recorded their dreams for a week.
They rated the dreams based on how well they recalled them, as well as the dreams' intensity, emotions and impact and ignoring any dream including water, sex, sex with water, drinking water, waterfalls, sex at a waterfalls or Spanish sailors.
The next week, participants still working on the project (over 300 quit, blaming "boredom") took a closer look at their most recent, well-recalled dream.
They made notes on any connections between the dream and personal events on a randomly selected day up to a week before the dream, not counting any dream that took place on a night they ate a heavy meal before going to sleep.
They then rated both their confidence in recalling the event, the extent of the association between the event and dream and three new porno film releases that used the word "spunk" in the title (this had nothing to do with the study, but the students were randy and needed a brief break).
After that, two independent judges-their names kept in a sealed envelope until the end of the study, at which time the envelope was opened and everyone admitted they had never heard of either man-were called in.
Their job was to review the selected dreams and related events and decide whether the dreams incorporated solutions to problems stemming from those events. And, to find out if the dreaming students were on drugs.
The conclusion is that dreams try to offer solutions to personal problems. The result, however, did not cover people whose dreams related to other people's problems.
"I had a dream," said one student, that my brother should change his job. I told my brother, he changed his job and was hit by a truck the next day."
"The dream world sometimes works quickly," said one researcher. "Dreams are always churning out insights and advice the night after a triggering event, although they do so with symbols, metaphors and allegories that no one can understand."
"This suggests an ongoing effort to resolve a problem in dreams during the week following the emergence of that problem," said psychology professor Don Diego Fortissimo of the University of Zorro.
"Something is going on in the mind that at least touches on and alters the resolutions that people come up with," says Fortissimo, who worked on the study while selling pretzels from an outdoor stand in New York City.
The solutions that surfaced after about a week of study were especially significant for women. There weren't enough men in the study to be sure about any gender differences, but the men liked being outnumbered by women, especially since two of the women were gay and outwardly showed their affections.
Other research has shown that men and women dream differently.
For instance, women up to age 39 seem to recall dreams more often than men of the same age, unless the dream deals with orgasms.
Women are more likely to remember their dreams after experiencing stress connected to using power tools and women describe their dreams as more vivid, while most men say they are chased and haunted by stick figures.
Dream content also tends to be different between men and women, say the researchers, in that women's dreams take place in rooms with more furniture.