The latest episode of our PsychCrunch podcast explores the blurry boundaries between wakefulness and dreaming. Presenter Ella Rhodes examines that strange transition period between being awake and falling asleep known as hypnagogia. She also learns about maladaptive daydreaming, a condition in which people can lose themselves in their daydreams for hours at a time.
To coincide with the release of the podcast, we’ve examined five strange findings about dreaming from the psychology literature:
This is Episode 22 of PsychCrunch, the podcast from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, sponsored by Routledge Psychology. Download here.
In this episode, Ella Rhodes, journalist for The Psychologist, explores the boundaries between wakefulness and dreaming. What can we can learn about consciousness from the strange transition period between being awake and asleep, known as hypnagogia? And why do some people experience visions and imaginings that take them away for hours at a time?
Our guests, in order of appearance, are Dr Valdas Noreika, lecturer in Psychology at Queen Mary University of London, and Dr Nirit Soffer-Dudek, clinical psychologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel
There are some curious cultural ideas around sleep, namely that there’s something virtuous or impressive about not getting very much of it. “Burnout” is often shorthand for success: if you’re successful it follows that you’re also pretty busy, in which case you’re less likely to get enough sleep. Margaret Thatcher famously boasted that she only needed to sleep four hours a night, as has Donald Trump — though whether that bolsters or damages the prestige associated with sleepless nights probably depends on your politics.
There may also be links between sleep and perceptions of masculinity, a new paper in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research suggests. In a number of studies, Nathan B. Warren and Troy H. Campbell from the University of Oregon found that not only do we associate sleep deprivation with masculinity, but that men who sleep less actually experience more favourable social judgements than their better-rested counterparts.
As I write this post, I’m struggling a little to put words onto the page. I didn’t sleep well last night, and my tiredness has taken its toll on my ability to concentrate. But at least I’m sat at my desk at home and not, say, in control of a massive hunk of metal filled with fuel and electronics, hurtling through space at thousands of kilometres an hour. Because a new study in Scientific Reports has found that astronauts need to get enough sleep too — and when they don’t, their performance suffers.
We all know that too little sleep is bad for us. Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley sleep scientist and author of the best-selling Why We Sleep, has gone so far as to declare: “The shorter you sleep, the shorter your life.” However, some researchers fear that our concerns about not getting enough sleep are becoming overblown — and that, ironically, they could be making the problem worse. In this feature, we take a look at evidence that “too little” sleep isn’t always the disaster that it’s held up to be. Continue reading “Feeling Sleepy? Six Findings That Reveal The Nuanced Effects Of Poor Sleep”→
Are you an evening person — an owl? Or a morning person — a lark? No end of studies have reported variations in the functioning of people who like to wake and go to bed late, versus those who are early to bed and early to rise. And now a new study, published in PLoS One, has found links between our “chronotype” and the way we handle emotions, reflect on our thoughts and feelings, and assert ourselves. Overall, owls do worse. And this, argues Juan Manuel Antúnez at the University of Malaga, Spain, could help to explain links between being an owl and poorer psychological well-being.
“At least since the philosophers of ancient Greece, scholars have pointed out the analogy between madness (psychosis) and dreaming…” So begins a new paper, published in PLoS One, that seems to shore up that analogy.
Dreams and psychotic hallucinations do have things in common. They both feature perceptual sensations that seem real, but which are conjured up by our brains.
However, there are also differences. While dreams are known to be highly visual, psychotic hallucinations are primarily auditory. They generally involve hearing things that aren’t real rather than seeing things that don’t exist. And this difference is an important reason why “the idea of dreaming as a model for psychosis has remained speculative and controversial,” write Roar Fosse of the Vestre Viken Hospital Trust, Norway, and Frank Larøi of the Norwegian Centre of Excellence for Mental Disorders Research at the University of Oslo.
However, to date, there’s been very little investigation into perceptions of sounds in dreams, the pair reports. And now they have data suggesting that, in fact, auditory perceptions are common. If this is the case, the links between psychotic experiences and dreams may be stronger than has been recently supposed.
Though some research has challenged the common conception that scent is the most evocative of all the senses, it can be undeniably powerful when you catch a whiff of something that jogs a memory. We also know that scent plays a part in sexual attraction: people with a keener sense of smell often find sex more pleasant and may even have more orgasms during sex, and the scent of a partner can reduce stress and increase feelings of safety.
You’re exhausted. You’ve had a long day at work before coming home to make dinner, do some chores and relax, and now it’s time for bed. But for some reason — despite the fact you’ve been struggling to stay awake all day — you can’t quite bring yourself to stop what you’re doing and go to sleep.
If this sounds familiar, you’ll be pleased to hear that you’re not the only one who lacks willpower when it’s time to go to bed. It’s so widespread, in fact, that Katharina Bernecker from the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien and Veronika Job at the Technical University of Dresden have investigated what could be driving the phenomenon in a new paper published in the British Journal of Psychology.
We tend to think of sleep as a positive thing. Not enough of it, and we suffer: our moods drop, and we find it harder to both concentrate on what’s in front of us and remember what’s happened. Being well-rested, on the other hand, is associated with greater ability to communicate, to achievement at home and at work, and to superior recollection of previously learned facts or events.