We all know how it feels to awaken from a particularly delicious dream, and then try in vain to fall asleep and get back into it. Or perhaps you recall a dream so unsettling or strange that it left you in a weird mood all day.
Though not everyone remembers their dreams, the vast majority of us do in fact dream each night. And just as our dreams can affect our daily waking life, the things we do in our lives can have an affect on our dreams as well.
Here are XXX things that can have an effect on the quantity and quality of your dreams:
#1. Sleeping Position
A recent study out of Hong Shue Yan University in Hong Kong studied the sleeping positions of adults and found that different sleeping positions seems to affect the quality of dreams in the sleeper.
In particular, researchers found that people who sleep on their stomachs generally experienced more intense, vivid dreams, while some of those that slept on their backs tended to have more nightmares. Side sleeping was associated with more positive dreams in general.
They also found that people tend to remember their dreams better when they maintained the same sleep posture upon waking.
#2. The Earth’s Magnetic Field & Melatonin
According to several studies, low geomagnetic activity can increase melatonin production in the body, which is then linked to more vivid, and sometimes bizarre, dreams.
Though there is no scientific proof that food affects our dreams, anecdotal reports of the influence of food on dreaming is widespread.
A Canadian study found that a quarter of the people they interviewed perceive a connection between their dreams and the food they ate.
Going to bed hungry also seems to have an influence on our dreaming. The resulting lower blood sugar levels during the night can result in a restless sleep, and the frequent awakenings may make us remember our dreams more easily.
Certain pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, as well as alcohol, can affect our dreams in a variety of ways. Many do so by interrupting the REM stage of sleep where dreaming mainly occurs. Some can lead to vivid and life-like dreams, while others affect our ability to remember our dreams. Alcohol also works to fragment your sleep, resulting in more vivid and sometimes frightening dreams.
#6. Psychological State
Of course, your overall mood can have a significant influence on the quality of both your sleep and dreaming. Our dreams tend to mirror our conscious moods and mental activity, as well as our subconscious mental states.
Dr. Ian Wallace, a psychologist and dream expert from the UK, found that his clients often reported an increase in dreams of a sexual nature during times when they were expressing themselves more creatively in their waking life.
Others report more disturbing or negative dreams when they are feeling depressed, while those who are struggling with anxiety may experience more distressing dreams.
#7. Abstaining & Quitting
This one goes hand in hand with our psychological state. When we are abstaining from something and craving it, or focusing on it to the exclusion of other things, we often end up dreaming of the thing we are abstaining from.
For example, dieting often sparks dreams of eating delicious desserts, while quitting cigarettes may make us dream of smoking.
According to a British study in 2008, the style of media you grew up with can influence the color of your dreaming.
Those whose main influence was black and white film and media tended to “experience more greyscale dreams” than those with no such exposure.
Often, sounds in our external environment can become incorporated into a dream and affect the story outcome. For example, we may dream that someone is knocking on our door, when in fact someone is.
German researchers studying the effects of external scents on dreaming exposed participants to either a ‘good’ smell (such as roses), or a ‘bad’ one (such as rotten eggs). Participants reported a positive impact on dreams from the pleasant smell of roses, though no influence was reported from the rotten eggs.
The findings makes sense from a biological perspective – the same system of the brain that regulates our perception of smell also controls our emotions.