Ever dreamed about flesh-eating zombies chasing you down? A new study published in the journal Dreaming is blaming this on your recent "The Walking Dead" binge. Researchers have discovered that what you watch while you're awake could later infiltrate your dreams when you hit the sack.
For the study, 1,287 Turkish participants ages 10 to 60 completed a survey about their media consumption the night before and what they dreamed of. They also included information on the types of content they consumed and what they dreamed about on a regular basis.
The researchers found that participants who consumed violent media tended to have violent dreams, while those who consumed sexual media tended to have sexual dreams. In fact, those who consumed violent media 90 minutes before sleeping were 13 times more likely to have a violent dream later that night.
And this includes all types of media — TV, internet, DVDs, movies, video games and music.
So does this mean that if you watch an episode of HBO's "Westworld," you're guaranteed to have crazy, AI-filled dreams that night? Not exactly.
According to the study, the participants who had consumed violent or sexual media content were associated with related dreams in general versus that very same night.
"But the fact that violent and sexual media use was related to a huge increase in related dreams showed the power media may have on our sleeping lives," says Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
So are your favorite TV shows causing you to have crazy dreams? Or are your dreams influencing the type of media you consume?
"It is at least possible that people who have more violent or more sexual dreams are more likely to seek out that content during the day," says Bushman. "Another possibility is that causality may go both ways or that some other factor is related to both media consumption and dream content. But I do believe that the most plausible explanation is that the media we consume influences our dreams."
It seems that the type of media we consume can influence our subconscious — even when we're dead asleep. So if you don't want to have violent dreams, perhaps an episode of a feel-good show is just what the doctor ordered.
And if you're looking to get your absolute best sleep, it's best to practice abstinence with your smartphone, tablet, laptop and other electronic devices — at least when it's close to your bedtime. The blue light emitted from these screens can disrupt the quantity and quality of the sleep you get that night.
What Do YOU Think?
What's your favorite TV show? Have your dreams ever been influenced by the type of media you consumed during your waking hours? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!