Have you ever wanted to come to understand your own dreams a little better? Have you wanted to get more involved in dreams research but don’t feel like going back to school? Well, there are some simple experiments that you can undertake on your own time while you’re going about your daily dream activities. Back in the 1800s, when dreams research was becoming more standardized, a doctor named Alfred Maury started studying his own dreams.
Dr. Maury used prompts and associations to try to trigger or change his dreams. He would get a friend to enter his room while he slept and slip a few drops of perfume on his pillow. He would then record the dreams and see how the stimulus affected his dreams. This is a great beginner experiment to get you started on thinking about and analyzing your own dreams. Here are a few steps to help you set up your own experiment:
1) You must be able to remember your dreams before starting this experiment. If you haven’t started yet, you should consider writing a dream journal. Every morning before you do anything else, write down everything you remember about your dreams—from the wide varying themes to the smallest details to how you feel during the dream.
2) Think about several stimuli that you want to introduce into your dreamscape—make sure you think up stimuli so that you aren’t focusing on a single one or two so as to influence your dreams
3) Arrange with a friend or a partner to introduce a random stimulus in the middle of the night. You are more likely to remember your dreams in the early morning so you may want to introduce the object at 3 or 4 in the morning.
4) When you wake up in the morning, the object should still be in the room and you should immediately write down your dreams including all details and feelings in your dream journal.
5) Do this repeatedly and keep track of all of your dreams. Notice if the different stimuli alter the content of your dreams.
Some of the best objects/stimuli are smells such as Dr. Maury’s perfume. You can also introduce sounds, color, light, and just about anything else you can think of. After you’ve done this experiment I’d love to hear about how you found the results.