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Volume 2, Number 2, Year 2000

Effects of Melatonin on Dream Bizarreness Among Male and Female College Students

Tracey Kahan, Ph.D., Jeanine Hays, B.S., Ben Hirashima, B.S., and Kimberly Johnston, B.S.

Anecdotal reports suggest dreams become more vivid and bizarre while taking melato-nin. However, the connection between melatonin and dream characteristics has not be-en empirically established. The present study investigated the effects of 6 mg of melato-nin (versus a placebo) on dream bizarreness in twenty two college students (8 male, 14 female), ages 18-25. The experiment ran for two weeks in which participants received eit-her melatonin or a placebo for six nights. Each morning, participants provided a narrati-ve of their dreams and also used a 7-point scale to respond to 17 questions measuring aspects of dream bizarreness. Bizarreness ratings following melatonin nights were com-pared with those following placebo nights. It was hypothesized that ratings of dream bi-zarreness would be reliably higher following melatonin treatments and that women would show greater increases than men. The hypotheses were partially supported by significant results on several specific aspects of dream bizarreness, including "transformations of objects" and "overall transformations." Patterns differed for males and females, indicating that melatonin may, indeed, impact dreaming characteristics and participants sex must be considered when investigating such effects. (Sleep and Hypnosis 2000;2:74-83)

Keywords: melatonin, dreaming, dream characteristics, dream bizarreness, human sex differences
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