There's A Reason You Have CRAZY Dreams After Watching Westworld

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
If deadly androids have been populating your dreams lately, you may have your HBO Go subscription to blame. According to a new study in Dreaming, your pre-bedtime viewing really can seep into your brain after you fall asleep.

The researchers surveyed 1,287 Turkish people between the ages of 10 and 60 about what they'd watched and dreamt the night before, as well as what kinds of media they consume and what dreams they have on a regular basis.

The more people were exposed to TV, movies, video games, the internet, and music, the more they remembered dreaming in general. And their choice of entertainment also affected the content of those dreams: The more sexual the content, the more sexual their dreams; and the more violent the subject matter, the more violent they reported their dreams to be, as well. This applied both to people's general habits and dreams and to their activities the night before the study.

The latter effect was especially huge: People who watched something violent within 90 minutes of going to sleep the night before were 13 times as likely to experience violent dreams. The impact of seeing sex on TV was a little more subtle but still significant: Sexual content increased people's chances of having sex dreams six-fold.

This doesn't necessarily prove that what you watch or listen to causes you to have certain dreams, lead author Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, said in a press release.

"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," he explained. "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."

The takeaway? "It would be good to avoid media with violent and sexual content, especially right before bed," Bushman concluded. (Unless you want to have sex dreams, of course, because those can be pretty fun.)

So, your parents might've actually been on to something when they forbade you from watching horror flicks. These could, in fact, have very well given you nightmares.

More from Spirit


R29 Original Series