Even for the most established and adept researchers and scientists, dreams are a mysterious thing. No one knows exactly why we dream, and what determines the content of the dreams themselves, and this is what makes our dreams so fascinating.
As a result of this broad confusion, there are plenty of myths and beliefs when it comes to outside factors that affect your dreams. For example, you may have heard that a scary movie will give you nightmares, or that going to bed angry will result in bad dreams.
And one of the most common types of myths when it comes to what causes the frequency and subject matter of dreams boils down to what we eat.
So does your diet play a role in your ability to dream? Do certain foods make you have nightmares, while others help you sleep soundly?
There’s no definitive answer to these questions, but there is some research to suggest that what you eat can affect the quality and content of what you dream.
Many researchers believe that this correlation between what we consume and what we dream boils down to how other parts of the body respond to food.
For example, spicy foods that cause indigestion can lead to stomach problems in the night, which are noticed by a still-active brain. As a result, this can lead to negative or jarring dreams where an individual experiences pain or discomfort, which serves as a mirror to what’s happening in the digestive system.
What we eat can also impact our mood, which has a huge impact on our dreams. Heavy and unrefined carbs, such as white bread and sugars, have been shown to jolt your blood glucose levels, which can make you feel tired, fatigued, and depressed. As such, loading up on unrefined carbs before bedtime can make your dreams more negative in nature, and can affect the overall quality of your sleep.
Conversely, foods that are high in melatonin, like cherries, grapes, broccoli, whole grains, and nuts, can actually promote a happier and more relaxed mind in the moments before bedtime, leading to a deeper and more restful sleep, and hopefully, sweet dreams as well.
Another factor that can play a role in how you dream is the timing of your meals and snacks.
For example, eating a large meal right before bedtime can actually boost your metabolism as well as your body temperature, which in turn heightens your brain activity during the REM stage of your sleep.
As such, while it’s difficult to gauge whether this will result in bad dreams or good dreams, your chances of dreaming regardless will essentially rise.
Plus, eating the larger meal at lunch rather than the evening will actually help your waistline, as well as your sleep.
How food affects our dreams is a question that has lingered for hundreds and even thousands of years. In fact, the Greek philosopher Hippocrates even pondered this question around 480 B.C., proposing that “food digestion” had a huge impact on the nature of our dreams.
Though we may never know what causes sweet dreams or nightmares, what you eat before bedtime can certainly have a noticeable role in all nocturnal activities – from your ability to stay asleep, to your mood when you wake up.
As such, it’s essential to stick to healthy food choices before bed, to ensure ample nights of well-deserved rest.
Have you made changes in your diet, but still feel groggy and fatigued each day? It could be sleep apnea disrupting your nightly rest. See how we can help with testing and treatment options to get you back to sleeping well and feeling great!