Some foods naturally enhance your dreams thanks to their nutrient content.
Specifically, we're looking at foods that are rich in vitamin B6 and tryptophan - as both are linked with greater dream recall and intensity.
Although this is not a magic bullet for lucid dreaming (no food or supplement is) you can use certain foods to boost your dream recall and dream vividness significantly.
In doing so, it increases your chances of lucidity when paired with some basic techniques like dream journaling and reality checks.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended as medical advice. Before taking any supplement, you are strongly advised to consult a qualified physician. This website takes no responsibility for any possible consequences of any action you take after reading the information herein.
Before I run through a list of 15 foods that enhance your dreams, let's examine how and why these ingredients affect dream intensity.
I'll also explain what levels are safe to ingest, both in terms of food consumption and as a daily vitamin supplement.
In 2002, a double-blind study revealed that participants who took a daily 250mg B6 supplement reported a significant increase in dream content - as measured in dream vividness, bizarreness, emotionality and color.
This is actually greater than the recommended maximum daily intake for healthy adults, which is 100mg. In fact, you only need about 1.3mg of vitamin B6 each day, and you usually get that from the foods you eat.
So 100mg a day is a sizeable dose. In the study above, participants took the 250mg dose for just 3 days. This is not a long term experiment and should be maintained at your own discretion.
How much is too much? Doses of 500-1,000mg, taken daily for several months, can lead to sensory neuropathy (pain and numbness of the extremities).
I suggest taking Nature Made Vitamin B6 (100mg) about two hours before bed for just a few nights in a row, then have a break. If you don't see any benefit, increase the nightly dose at your own risk, but remember not to do this on a prolonged basis.
Unfortunately, there are no foods sufficiently rich in vitamin B6 to noticeably affect your dreams. A cup of rice bran contains only 4.8mg, while yellow-fin tuna offers 0.88mg in a 3-ounce serving. A B6 supplement is the way to go.
One of the roles of vitamin B6 is to convert the essential amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and niacin.
This helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and mood. As a result, tryptophan is used therapeutically to treat insomnia, depression and anxiety. Low levels of tryptophan are also linked with poor dream recall.
The FDA has banned the sale of tryptophan as a supplement due to a suspected link with EMS (eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome). Though many experts now believe the 1989 scare was caused by a contaminated batch, tryptophan is now only available on prescription.
So, in order to increase your tryptophan intake, you need to eat tryptophan-rich foods. Luckily, it's not hard to eat sufficient tryptophan to affect your dream intensity. We'll look at the best food sources below.
Here are 15 tryptophan-rich foods to enhance your dreams by ramping up your serotonin conversion.
Note: The recommended daily allowance for tryptophan is 392mg for men and 322mg for women, assuming a normal RDA-level protein intake. Doctors prescribe tryptophan therapeutically in doses exceeding 5g per day with no adverse effects.
When you're ready to begin the dream-intensity challenge, take your vitamin B6 supplement and fuel the fire with tryptophan-rich foods like:
Vegetarians may consider these options:
These foods are best consumed at night with your evening meal, a few hours before bed and around the same time as ingesting your vitamin B6 pill.
If you want to skip the whole process of eating tryptophan-rich foods and take a supplement instead, there is another solution.
Instead of getting more tryptophan into your diet, take a supplement like Doctor's Best 5-HTP Enhanced with Vitamins B6 & C two hours before bed. This is what your body naturally converts tryptophan into before it becomes serotonin.
The purpose of ingesting higher doses of vitamin B6, tryptophan and 5-HTP is to increase your serotonin levels, which play an important role in regulating the sleep/wake cycle. In particular, serotonin creates more vivid dreams.
You may be wondering why you can't just skip all the middle man and take serotonin supplements directly. Unfortunately serotonin can't easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Instead you must produce serotonin naturally.
So by taking supplements we're adding fuel to the fire that already burns inside your brain nightly.
This increase can lead to significantly more intense dreams, providing the springboard many beginners seek for having lucid dreams.
Here's a good question. If a lucid dream is any dream in which you know you're dreaming, then why aren't we always lucid in dreams? Why doesn't it just become the default state of dreaming? Why do we accept our dreams of flying pigs and dinosaurs as an extension of waking life? What is the mechanism for defaulting to non-lucid dreams? Intriguingly, scientists have approached this question from three different angles./p>
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?