Since starting college, I have eaten meals at very unconventional times due to activities and rigorous class work. I remember hearing from someone that it is not a good idea to eat after 8 o’clock at night, which is often something I am forced to do. A few weeks ago I had to power through late night studying so I grabbed a snack to keep me going. That night I had a nightmare. For whatever reason I thought back to what I did before I went to bed. I asked myself if I saw a scary advertisement being that halloween is around the corner, but I did not remember seeing one. I recalled eating some cookies way after 8 p.m., which was apparently a bad thing to do. I wondered what the mechanism was behind me getting a nightmare, and if it possibly could have involved eating the ice cream. Does eating sugary foods, like cookies, before bed cause nightmares?
After browsing the internet and looking at various websites, I came across a study conducted by the University of Montreal. The study was called, “Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams (2015)”. I found this study appropriate and credible because it came from a university and was conducted within the past year. The study consisted of 382 undergraduate students—126 males and 255 females and 1 person whose gender was unspecified. I took notice that there was a much larger portion in females who participated and wondered if this could affect the end results of the study. Andrew talked about the importance of giving consent to scientists or a study, specifically in cancer trials. It is important to note that all participants in this study gave their consent, as well as it being approved by the University’s Ethics Board.
The way the study worked was by giving each participant various online surveys that they each had to complete based on topics concerning their diet, sleep quality, and dream characteristics. The results of all the surveys combined concluded that, 68 of 382 or 17.8% participants said that eating specific foods did have a direct affect on their dreams. 11.5% claimed that eating late at night affected their dreams. These numbers are much lower than I expected them to be, could it be because there was more females in the study than males? If the study had used a larger group of participants,
As you can see from the above picture, each pie chart’s highest percentage of food that contributes to a disturbing or bizarre dream comes from diary. Sugar is the second highest contributor at 12.5% for disturbing dreams and 30.8% for bizarre dreams. Neither percentage helps to support or confirm my hypothesis. Something that could be taken into consideration for comparing each pie chart is the definition of what exactly the study considers a disturbing or bizarre dream to be. The information may be more easily understood if the University of Montreal provided the definitions for each category.
This study done by the University of Montreal helped me to accept the null hypothesis, the numbers from the study were too low for me to clearly see if there was a relationship between sugary foods and nightmares. Looking back at it now, it must have been by chance that when I ate cookies before bed, I got a nightmare.
Nielson, Tore, and Russell A. Powell. Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: Food and Diet as Instigators of Bizarre and Disturbing Dreams (2015). Rep. N.p., Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.