Sweet Dreams: Factors That Can Impact Your Dreams
You show up to your final exam in your underwear, your teeth fall out, and a clown is chasing you. Then suddenly—thankfully—you find yourself sitting up in bed in a cold sweat.
If you’ve ever experienced unsettling, unpleasant, or just plain weird dreams, you’re not alone. People have been contemplating the art of dreaming as long as we’ve known how to saw logs. But the stage for your dreams is set before you turn in for the night. Here are a few factors that can impact your dreams.
We’ve always known that what you eat can influence how well you sleep. A cup of warm milk will help you nod off, while a cup of coffee will keep you up for hours. So it’s no surprise that your diet also plays into your dreams at night. A few key foods that may give you more vivid dreams include:
- Spicy food
If you’re wondering whether your midnight snack may spark some funky dreams, check the nutrition label. If the food contains tryptophan or vitamin B6, chances are it will impact your dreams.
Your dreams are your subconscious’ way of processing the day’s events. So it only makes sense that if you have a lot of heavy stuff on your mind, those things will seep into your dreams. Not only this, but stress also keeps us from falling all the way to sleep, keeping us in the REM part of our sleep cycle—the part where we dream.
A stress-related dream is pretty easy to spot. Any of the nightmare sequences we’ve already mentioned, like showing up to an event unprepared or naked, having your teeth fall out, or being chased, are a sure sign you have some stress to work through when you wake up.
Even though we’re unconscious, our bodies still process the world around us. Because of that, your bedroom is one of the key factors that influences your dreams.
Things like sounds and smells have a way of influencing our dreams for better or worse. For example, pleasant smells, like lavender, will likely give you pleasant dreams, while unpleasant smells, like dirty laundry, won’t. Cleaning up your room and turning down the lights to make it more ideal for sleep may help you avoid nightmares.