It's hotly debated if there's a function for dreaming. Are dreams a space to try out unexpected solutions to problems? Are they a chance to practice fight or flight responses? Do they have no function at all?
Maybe our waking brains just make quick sense -- plot lines and meanings -- out of lingering images from what was essentially just a night of meaningless brain hiccups.
Whatever the case may be, one thing that seems undisputed is that events, people, and activities around which there is a great amount of stress are more likely to appear in dreams. Harvard prof Robert Stickgold found (as he explained in the Radiolab segment on Dreams) that when he made his students play a stressful video game about alpine skiing, he could supplant the image of skiing into 40% (40%!) of the students' dreams that night.
Which made me think about a potentially very stressful event looming on our collective horizon. The election!
And I suddenly wondered: will Romney and Obama be making house calls to a vast number of people's heads tonight?
I have no idea if millions of voters will dream about the candidates, but I'm curious to do an informal poll. Let us know if you happen to have (or have had recently) a presidential dream. If you're willing to share who you're voting for, it would be interesting to know how your choice affects your slumber -- is it the opposing candidate, or the one you feel better about, that makes an appearance in your dreamscape? And what is the candidate doing? Wearing water wings? Chasing you down the hall? Spooning you on your therapist's couch?
Maybe something you share will lead to some sort of insight on the function of dreams or the possibility of dream interpretation as election predictor. I don't know. Who knows. Let us know. And sleep safe.