Behind bars

Dream content delay (dream latency)

     Studies have shown that what shows up in dreams often comes from people and events of the previous day (the so-called day residues) (Davidson & Kelsey, 1987, Nielsen & Powell, 1992). It has also been discovered that the subject matter of dreams early in the night is more closely associated with events from the preceding day, while dreams from later in the night are freer in their "choice" of "subject matter" (Verdone, 1965).

     One researcher investigated his own dreams and found there were dream elements that came from three to four days before the dreams (Epstein, 1985). Another study of the dreams from 129 students in Canada yielded a lag between outer event and its incorporation into a subsequent dream of six days (Nielsen & Powell, 1989). Finally, studies of prisoners (and of those on journeys) have indicated that our psyche often waits 6 - 8 days on average before dealing with our changed circumstances. People in prison, for example, dream of what it was like being outside for the first seven nights, and they continue dreaming that they are still in prison for the first seven nights following their release (Jouvet, 1994, pp. 57 - 61).

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