Earth's Magnetic Field Of Weird Dreams

Where do these dreams come from? Olena Chernenko/Getty

You've probably noticed by now that sometimes your dreams and nightmares are very day-to-day and other times they're far more bizarre. One night you might dream you're at work or that you forgot to drop a college course and the next you're hanging out with the squid emperors of Xakatu 7 and chatting about the finer points of all-cowboy jazz quartets.

What determines the weirdness of our dreams? One psychologist believes the planet's magnetic field may play a crucial role.

According to an article on New Scientist, researcher Darren Lipnicki chronicled his dream wanderings over a seven-year period. He ranked them on a scale of one to five, with a five being the zanier end of the spectrum. When he compared his findings with local geomagnetic levels, our sleep explorer found that his crazier dreams occurred on days that exhibited the least geomagnetic activity. Of course, this may be more of a case of correlation than causation -- kind of a modern, scientific reversal of the old "do dreams dictate reality" quandary. Hey, maybe Lipinksi's dreams actually influenced the planet's magnetic field?*

Either way, this dream researcher's findings appear in last month's issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses. The other night I had to explain to the police, in a dream, why my cat had wrecked the living room and built a fort out of the couch cushions. If I'd only known to blame it all on magnetism!

* It's also worth noting that geomagnetic activity sometimes gets blamed for spontaneous human combustion as well.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.