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9/11 Attacks Changed Way Americans Dream

Small study suggests images more intense, but oddly lacking planes flying into towers

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, not only caused huge political and social changes, they also altered the dreams of Americans.

That's the suggestion from a small study published in the February issue of Sleep.

Dr. Ernest Hartmann of Tufts University and Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Boston looked at 11 men and 33 women, aged 22-70, who'd been recording their dreams for at least two years. Each of the participants provided information about 20 consecutive dreams, 10 before 9/11 and 10 after 9/11.

The study found that dreams after 9/11 showed more intense images, but weren't longer, more dreamlike or more bizarre than those before terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In addition, the dreams after 9/11 did not contain more images of airplanes or buildings. None of the participants had dreams involving airplanes flying into buildings, even though they'd all seen such images many times on TV.

"The more intense imagery is very consistent with findings in people who have experienced trauma of various kinds," Hartmann said in a prepared statement. "The idea is that we all experienced at least some trauma on (9/11)."

More information

The U.S. National Sleep Foundation has more about dreams.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, Feb. 1, 2008

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