Things That Affect Your Dreams

1. Smells—A study found that sniffing flowers at a particular point in the sleep cycle led to more positive dreams. A sulfur odor was linked to negative ones. There’s a possibility that a sudden aroma of bacon from the kitchen could infiltrate your dream. Dreams are sleep protective, so instead of waking up, you incorporate things like smells into your dream.

2. Sounds–You wake up after dreaming you’re stuck in a burning building-and realize that the fire alarm you heard was actually your alarm clock. It turns out there’s a narrow window for sounds to get through to your brain during sleep. They need to be low enough that they don’t wake you but high enough that you “perceive” them. So let a recording of ocean waves play softly throughout the night. You might have a dream about a beach vacation or wake up feeling relaxed.

3. Spicy Food–Anything that could cause indigestion like cheese, spicy foods or a big meal makes you sleep bad. For rest that’s more peaceful, eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime, and choose nighttime snacks wisely. Since caffeine has the same effect, cut off your coffee intake after 2 pm.

4. Sleeping on Your Stomach—Do you have “racy”. Well, sleeping on your stomach might have something to do with it. A study found that lying on your belly in bed was linked to dreams like having sex with a celebrity or being tied up. Researchers think it might have to do with your breathing patterns in this position.

5. Vitamin B6–There’s no research whether or not taking B6 leads to more lucid dreams, but the Internet has reports that it does. Doctors agree it makes good sense. B6 is the co-factor our body uses to turn some of the amino acids we eat into the neurotransmitters that affect our dreaming. To stop vivid dreams, stop the supplements. But if you’re looking to encourage dreaming, take the recommended amount of B6 daily. Too much could cause nerve damage or numbness over time.

6. Antidepressants–Yes, they’re supposed to calm you down they cause more nightmares as a side effect. If you’re taking something like Paxil or Zoloft, talk to your doctor about switching to a similar drug.

7. Quitting Smoking–Vivid dreams have been shown to be a symptom of kicking the habit. In one study, 63% of smokers still dreamed about smoking a year later. Nicotine withdrawal also enhances brain activity in a way that can make you dream more.

8. Black-and-White TV–If you grew up before color TV sets were common, you might be more likely to recall your dreams in grayscale instead of color. The sweet spot for being exposed to black-and-white media might be between about three and 10 years old, so there’s not much you can do to change your dream colors now.

9. Going to Bed Hungry–Low blood sugar can mess up your sleep, meaning you might remember more dreams and those dreams might include a juicy burger or a piece of pizza. In fact, a study found that anorexic patients almost always dreamed about food. A small nighttime snack of a banana and a glass of milk isn’t just filling and healthy. It also has tryptophan, which can help you sleep better.

10. Scary Movies Before Bed–Spooky movies before bed have been known to cause spooky nightmares. But is there any truth to it? Well, doctors say the last thing you do before bed matters. The music you’re listening to, the book you’re reading, the TV show you’re watching, the conversation you’re having-all those things are likely to be an influence. So if you suffer from nightmares and happen to catch a horror flick, take a few minutes to reprogram your brain with happy thoughts before going to sleep.

11. Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period—Nightmares are typical with pregnant women as they go through new mom anxiety. Studies have found that it’s common to have extremely vivid dreams during pregnancy and your baby’s infancy. It’s most likely caused from a mix of emotions, lack of sleep and hormone levels. There’s not much you can do to control them. But these dreams are a sign that your brain is helping you adapt to this huge life change so let it be a source of comfort.