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Christopher Perry


To sleep, no doubt to dream, a reading found within the book Forty Studies That Changed
Psychology by Roger R. Hock, consisted of two studies. The main focus was William Dements
experiment on sleep deprivation but in order to understand that you must first take a look at
Aserinskys findings according to Hock.
Aserinsky, a graduate student who studied sleep in 1952, observed and questioned
movement of the eyes in infants while they slept. His theory was these periods of movement
were associated with dreaming. He could not question an infant so he moved onto adults.
Aserinsky and his coauthor Nathaniel Kleitman conducted a laboratory experiment. Their
experimental group consisted 20 normal adults who agreed to be observed while sleeping.
Sensitive electronic measuring devices connected to muscles around the participants eye and
stretched into another room. Here Aserinsky could observe participants while they slept. He
predicted if he woke his participants up during the time of rapid eye movement they would recall
dreaming. If awoken in no eye movement periods they will not recall dreaming. His independent
variable is when a patient was awoken. That is in periods of rapid eye movement, or periods of
no eye movement. The dependent variable is whether or not the participants recalled dreaming.
According to Hock, for all the participants, 27 awakenings were done during rapid eye
movements, and 20 times they reported detailed visual dreams and 7 times said they felt they
dreamed but could not recall anything about them (Hock 43). Aserinsky also recorded that during
periods of no eye movement, 23 awakenings were instigated and 19 instances were reported of
not dreaming. (Hock 43).

Aserinsky discovered what we now know as rapid eye movement REM sleep or also
known as dream sleep. His findings led to research for other psychologist. For example William
What interested Dement was that dreaming occurred every night. According to Hock this
led Dement to ask the question Would it be possible for human beings to continue to function
normally if their dream life were completely or partially suppressed? (Hock 44).
Dement performed a laboratory experiment with eight male participants from ages 23-32.
Like Aserinsky, he attached electrodes to their scalp and eyes which led into another room so he
could observer their brain wave patterns. The first several nights the patients slept undisturbed
and Dement recorded the patients normal amount of dreaming and sleep pattern as a control. He
then began to deprive them of their dreams. Before his patients began to dream he would disturb
their sleep. They had to demonstrate they were fully awake before they could go back to bed.
After several nights he allowed them to enter into recovery phase (Hock 44). Participants could
sleep undisturbed, but their sleep patterns were recorded. Following this they were given several
nights off. Upon return they did the same experiment however, they were awakened after they
had a period of REM sleep. These were called control recovery so that any effects of the sleep
deprivation were not because of being disturbed during REM sleep (Hock 45). His independent
variable is being awoken before periods of REM sleep, depriving them of REM sleep, or
awakening in between these periods of rapid eye movement. The dependent variable would be
the number of awakenings the first and last night and percent dream time, recovery and control.
For his control he established that the participants averaged 6 hours and 50 minutes of
sleep (Hock 45). The time they spent dreaming was typically 80 minutes (Hock 45). For the
sleep deprivation nights he found that there more attempts to wake participants on the last night

than the first night. The first night he woke them between 7 and 22 occurrences and on the last
night it ranged from 13 to 30 attempts (Hock 45). If this was not surprising, his next results
were. On the recovery nights he recorded the amount of time spent dreaming and compared it to
his control time spent dreaming of the participants. In the recovery period the average time spent
dreaming was 112 minutes compared to the baseline which was 80 minutes (Hock 46)
So what did he discover? From his experiment he concluded that we need to dream.
When you dont get enough REM sleep or are prohibited from it your body tries to make up for it
during the next sleep session. This is what is called REM-rebound (Hock 46). His finding are
so important to sleep psychology and humans themselves. If we need sleep then we should
understand why we need it.
Many believe today that REM sleep is important to help the process of making new
information into memories. This could also be due to increase synthesis proteins in the brain
during REM. I assumed from my reading that this is more of a Bio-psychological view.
According to Ciccarelli & White, authors of Pyshcology (3rd Edition), the Bio-psychological
perspective views Human and animal behavior as a direct result of events in the body.
(Ciccarelli 15).
I appreciate Dements findings because it has helped me understand a little of myself. If I
spend a third of my life sleeping I would like to know and understand why. I hope to do my own
experimental research as well one day. Dements research will definitely be some inspiration for
my own research. Maybe I could even re-create his experiment for my own support.
Works Cited

Hock, Roger R. Chapter 2/ To Sleep, No Doubt To Dream. Forty Studies That Changed
Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research. 7Th ed. Boston:
Person, 2013, 42-49. Print.
White, Noland J. Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology. Psychology. By Saundra k. Ciccarelli.
3rd ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 15. Print.