When you think back on your dream last night, do you remember it pretty vividly? Was it perhaps a bit bizarre or even nightmarish? If so, that chocolate you had right before bed could be the culprit.
Chocolate contains compounds that are known to have psychoactive effects on the brain, causing enhanced dreams — good or bad. Other foods, like cheese and milk, are believed to help you sleep better and promote pleasant dreams.
Determining how different foods influence our dreams isn’t always cut and dried, though.
“In terms of good and bad dreams, and how different foods affect them, it varies from person to person and what their body is used to,” says Dr. Lori Shemek, author Dr. Lori’s Healthy Living Blog and How to Fight FATflammation!.
The varying ways your body processes certain foods, such as spicy foods that overheat or sugary foods that fatigue, can manifest itself during sleep just as a simple offshoot of all of the neuronal activity that occurs. Because your brain activity is so high during sleep, especially during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, it is extremely influenced by the digestion process.
Of course, the kind of food you eat isn’t the only dream instigator. Your genetic makeup, your tolerance for what you eat, and the quantity you consume are all factors that play into whether a food might make dreams more vivid, promote sweet dreams, or give you nightmares. Other circumstances, like your sleep environment — the temperature of your room, for instance — and body temperature (maybe you have a fever) can also affect your dream scenarios.
Read on to find out what to eat for a good night’s sleep, and how to avoid a food-induced nightmare.
Haley Willard is a contributor for The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.
When Do We Dream?
When we think back on a night’s sleep, some dreams are usually more vivid than others, and many people can barely remember their dreams at all. But we are always dreaming — usually three or four times a night. We dream during several phases of sleep, but most dreams that we remember happen during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, when the brain is the most active.
Eating Before Bedtime
Dr. Lori Shemek recommends avoiding heavy meals within an hour before bed because the stomach needs time to digest. A heavily portioned meal before bedtime can cause indigestion, which may disrupt sleep and instigate dramatic scenarios in dreams — or even nightmares.