What Influences My Dreams?
What happens to us while we are awake can have an effect on our dreams when we eventually fall asleep.
One major factor in the influence of our dreams is our overall health. Sleep deprivation (as little as one or two nights without sleep) can play a large role in how vivid our dreams will become. Sleep deprivation can make our brains much more active when we finally drift off into REM sleep. The likelihood of having vivid dreams will increase dramatically the longer you go without sleep. You’re also more likely to recall these dreams shortly after waking. The majority of dreams you will not remember. Some may be fuzzy while others, such as vivid dreams, you’ll closely remember due to how intense they felt.
Being pregnant is also a factor that may influence the likelihood of vivid dreams. The increased hormone production during pregnancy can affect the way your brain processes thoughts and emotions. This can often lead to intense and vivid dreams where you are likely to remember them upon awakening. Pregnancy may also cause insomnia, which as stated earlier, can cause vivid dreams due to the lack of sleep.
Mental health disorders can also play a major role in influencing your dreams. Depression, anxiety and other mood-related conditions can cause intense vivid dreams as well as sometimes disturbing or negative ones such as nightmares.
There’s a lot of contrasting information regarding foods and how they influence dreams. But what is clear is that some foods may be a pre-cursor for vivid dreams or increase the likelihood of remembering dreams.
Any food that affects your waking mood such as high-carb foods or high-sugar foods will more than likely affect your unconscious mood too. The crash from an overload of sugar can wreak havoc on your mood. Taking this mood into bed could carry over into your sleep.
A study from the International Journal of Psychophysiology concluded that ingesting Tabasco sauce while eating dinner noticeably disturbed the participant’s sleep. The food elevated the body’s temperature which caused a disturbance in the brain and caused nightmares.
Chocolate, cakes and biscuits also disturb sleep, but from the high sugar and caffeine content. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that 31% of people who were tested reported bizarre or disturbing dreams after eating cookies and cake. So before you tuck into a midnight snack, think about how it may affect your sleep and dreams.
While to first two influences are the causation of increased dreaming or nightmares, daily exercise is found to cut down the amount of time you dream.
A good night’s sleep is often attributed to fewer nightmares and dreams overall. Gaining a peaceful sleep is aided by performing cardio exercises in the morning (such as running or swimming) which will help you fall asleep quicker at night than if you didn’t exercise at all.
Fitness enthusiasts generally spend less time in REM sleep (the lightest stage of sleep) and more time in deep sleep resulting in dreaming less and certainly remembering fewer dreams in the process.
With stress and anxiety playing a part in how often we dream or have nightmares, using exercise to reduce these levels should help reduce the number of nightmares you endure.