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, especially if you are under 18 or suffering from any known or suspected medical condition. This website takes no responsibility for any possible consequences of any action you take after reading the information herein.
Before we look at specific dream-enhancing foods, let's examine how and why these ingredients affect dream intensity and what levels are safe to ingest, both in terms of food consumption and as a daily supplement.
Consider this a two-pronged approach: below I'll explain why you'll want to take a B6 supplement and eat tryptophan-rich foods (or take a 5-HTP supplement) in combination in order to stimulate your dream life.
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, especially if you take it on a prolonged basis. In the study above, participants took the 250mg dose for just 3 days. So 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).
To get started, know this: casual experiments by other dreamers have shown the amount of B6 needed to increase dream intensity varies from 100-500mg depending on the person.
I suggest starting with Nature Made Vitamin B6 (100mg) about two hours before bed for just a few nights in a row, then have a break for a few weeks. 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, if you don't want to take a B6 supplement, you'll have to eat a heck of a lot of B6-rich foods to make that 100mg quota. Even the richest B6 foods take a long time to stack up: a cup of rice bran contains only 4.8mg, while yellow-fin tuna offers 0.88mg in a 3-ounce serving. So as far as B6 goes, supplements are the realistic 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 Recommended Daily Allowance for tryptophan is 392mg for men and 322mg for women, assuming a normal RDA-level protein intake. While there is no upper limit identified, it's interesting to note that doctors prescribe tryptophan therapeutically in doses exceeding 5g per day with no adverse effects.
On the flip side, you should also be aware that the FDA doesn't allow 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.
If you want to skip the whole process of eating tryptophan-rich foods and take a supplement instead, there is another workaround.
Instead of getting more tryptophan into your diet, take a supplement like Doctor's Best 5-HTP Enhanced with Vitamins B6 & C also two hours before bed. This is what your body naturally converts tryptophan into before it becomes serotonin.
The purpose of taking 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 at higher levels.
You may be wondering why you can't just skip all the middle-men and take serotonin supplements directly. Unfortunately these aren't available because serotonin can't easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Instead you must produce serotonin naturally.
So by taking supplements we're really just adding fuel to the serotonin fire that already burns inside your brain nightly anyway.
This increase can lead to significantly more intense dreams, providing the springboard many beginners seek for having lucid dreams.
Now here are those tryptophan-rich foods which will enhance your dreams by ramping up your serotonin conversion.
When you're ready to begin the dream-intensity challenge, take your vitamin B6 supplement and fuel the fire with foods such as:
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. Sweet dreams!