Abstract: Through research using the scientific method, Piper Flewelling and Carolyn Hannigan found the answer to the age old question “does chocolate affect dreams?” Studies have shown that eating chocolate before bed can result in nightmares and other terrible nighttime side effects. Using chocolate, dream journals, and constant test subjects the answer was found: chocolate does affect dreams.
Does chocolate have an effect on dreams? Parents often tell their children that they are not allowed to have chocolate before bed. They say that consuming chocolate, or other sugary foods, before bed can come with quite the consequences. This is due to the amount of sugar found in chocolate.
Through a quick Google or library search, it is not hard to find debates and scholarly sources on the topic. Most sources state that chocolate does have an effect on your dreams. Only rarely will one find a source that goes against the theory. I have yet to find out how this theory came about.
If a person eats chocolate within an hour or two before they go to bed, it is said to cause wild and crazy nightmares. Some have even said that doing so has given them lucid dreaming, in which they are fully aware that they are dreaming, and are almost paralyzed. It is not highly recommended that one tries this. If someone gets a wild enough nightmare, it can cause them to need therapy and counseling for a while. Although this is very unlikely, it is still a risk.
People ask themselves “how can something as sweet as chocolate have such a negative side effect?” Chocolate is not the only food that can produce such terrible side effects. The reason behind this is the amount of sugar found in the food. Chocolate contains high amounts of sugar, and that is the source of the problem.
Other foods that are high in sugar can also be used to test the theory. Soft drinks, candies, and other sweets can also lead to the same results. Chocolate just so happens to be the most tested product.
The hypothesis to this project says that: if an individual consumes chocolate before bed, then their dreams will be negatively altered. The hypothesis has been reached based on various studies done by previous people. Nine out of ten studies show that eating chocolate before going to sleep can cause terrifying dreams. These dreams are often vivid. A list of materials needed to test the hypothesis includes: people, various kinds of chocolate, and a dream journal.
Dream journals played an important part in testing the hypothesis. There were three constant test subjects throughout the week-long experiment. The rules of the dream journal was as followed: “Each night, no more than two hours before you go to bed each night, you are to consume the amount of chocolate provided (about 2 ½ large bricks). When you wake up the next morning, you must record your dreams. Be as vivid as possible.” The experiment lasted ten days.
According to the chart, caffeine indeed had a negative effect on dreams. On average, nightmares seemed to occur the most. Weirdly enough, no recollection of dreams came in a slight second behind nightmares. 2 out of the 3 test subjects also seemed to have peaceful dreams 25-65% of the time.
Compared to research that others have done, I found that our data matched pretty well. While doing this experiment, other test subjects were also negatively impacted by the caffeine and sugar in the chocolate. If we were to further with this experiment, I’d first find a way to share my results with other people who have tried the same experiment. After that, I'd find a way to make chocolate that has zero affect on the brain and the way it causes us to dream.
At first, we didn't have a control group. We eventually set a control so our hypothesis could either be declined or accepted. Once a control group was selected, we were able to further on with our experiment and no improvements were made. We should have stuck to one type of chocolate, as it provided too much information. Our group was only testing to find out whether chocolate affects dreams or not. We were not trying to see which kind of chocolate effected dreams the most.
On behalf of helping us with our project, I would just like to thank my ex-boyfriend, Dakota, for willingly taking part of this whole experiment. It means a lot! I would also like to thank Dr. Maunder for all of her help and guidance with this assignment.
Chocolate, indeed, does have a negative effect on our dreams. The amount of sugar and caffeine allows the chocolate to alter our dreams in such a way that can often be terrifying. Out of the three test subjects, all three had confirmed that the chocolate affected them. With this, we can say that our hypotheses is accepted.
I did not set any goals when starting this experiment, although I did accomplish a lot of great things. For example, with the help of my partner, I was able to test an age old question. I was able to contribute to the wonderful research and fantastic studies that help the human race understand dreams. Not only did I accomplish a lot, but I also had a lot of fun. Psychology is an interesting topic.
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