Dreaming of Understanding What Student Eaters Dream About

Inspired by Winsor McKay’s comic strip, which also inspired the old movie you see here, two researchers, who work at what they call The Dream and Nightmare Laboratory in Montreal, asked students about their dreams and their eating habits.

The resulting study is:

Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams,” Tore Nielsen and Russell A. Powell, Frontiers in Psychology, epub February 17, 2015. (Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the Université de Montreal, Montreal, and Grant McEwan University, Edmonton, Canada, explain:

“In the early 1900s, the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip conveyed how the spicy cheese dish Welsh rarebit leads to bizarre and disturbing dreams. Today, the perception that foods disturb dreaming persists. But apart from case studies, some exploratory surveys, and a few lab studies on how hunger affects dreaming, there is little empirical evidence addressing this topic. The present study examines three aspects of the food/dreaming relationship; it attempts to: (1) assess the prevalence of the perception of food-dependent dreaming and the types of foods most commonly blamed; (2) determine if perceived food-dependent dreaming is associated with dietary, sleep or motivational factors; and (3) explore whether these factors, independent of food/dreaming perceptions, are associated with reports of vivid and disturbing dreams. Three hundred and ninety six students completed questionnaires evaluating sleep, dreams, and dietary habits and motivations.”