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15 Foods That Enhance Your Dreams
Improve Dream Recall, Intensity and Lucid Dreaming
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 this to boost your dream recall and dream vividness. In doing so, this increases your chances of lucidity when paired with some basic techniques like dream journaling and reality checks.
Dream-Boosting Foods and Supplements
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 in combination in order to stimulate your dream life.
Step #1 - Take a Vitamin B6 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 fair whack of a 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. Try starting with a safe 100mg vitamin B6 supplement taken an hour or two 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, you can 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. (Rice bran is especially rich in B6 and yet one cup contains only 4.8mg. Meanwhile, yellow-fin tuna offers 0.88mg in a 3-ounce serving.) So, while you can eat certain B6-rich foods, getting a high enough dose to affect your dreams will realistically require a supplement.
Step #2 - Eat Tryptophan-Rich Foods
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.
(Note: If you want to skip the whole process of eating tryptophan-rich foods and pop a pill instead, there is another workaround to the FDA ban. Instead of getting more tryptophan, take 5-HTP instead, which is what your body naturally converts tryptophan into before it becomes serotonin. A 100mg 5-HTP supplement an hour or two before bed should do the job.)
Step #3 - Make More Serotonin
The purpose of taking higher doses of vitamin B6 and tryptophan/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 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.
All this can lead to significantly increased intensity of your regular dreams, providing the springboard many beginners seek for having lucid dreams.
15 Foods That Intensify Your Dreams
Now that we've got all the messy explanations out of the way, here are those 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 plenty of tryptophan-rich foods such as:
- Chicken (4 oz) gives 0.41g tryptophan
- Soybeans (1 cup) gives 0.39g tryptophan
- Turkey (4 oz) gives 0.38g tryptophan
- Tuna (4 oz) gives 0.38g tryptophan
- Venison (4 oz) gives 0.36g tryptophan
- Lamb (4 oz) gives 0.35g tryptophan
- Salmon (4 oz) gives 0.35g tryptophan
- Halibut (4 oz) gives 0.34g tryptophan
- Shrimp (4 oz) gives 0.33g tryptophan
- Cod (4 oz) gives 0.29g tryptophan
I realize that list is a little meat-heavy, and if you're a vegetarian it doesn't give many options. So here are five more veggie-friendly foods:
- Kidney Beans (1 cup) gives 0.18g tryptophan
- Pumpkin Seeds (0.25 cup) gives 0.17g tryptophan
- Tofu (4 oz) gives 0.14g tryptophan
- Cheese (1 oz) gives 0.09g tryptophan
- Soy Sauce (1 tbsp) gives 0.03g tryptophan
These foods are best consumed at night with your evening meal, a few hours before bed and around the same time as ingesting your B6 pill. Sweet dreams!