I'm one of those people who dreams every night. I don't know if it's because I have an overactive imagination, or I drink too much caffeine, but every morning I wake up knowing my mind has been somewhere else for the duration of my sleep.
What's really annoying, though, is waking up knowing you had an intriguing, vivid dream, and then feeling it slip away. It's like trying to catch a snowflake – once it starts disappearing, it's gone forever.
According to a new study, taking one particular vitamin could help you remember those dreams you keep losing.
The research, published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, found that taking high-dose vitamin B6 supplements before going to bed helped people remember their dreams.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide recruited 100 people, half of which took 240mg vitamin B6 pills for five consecutive days, while the other half took a placebo.
It was a small study, but the results did show those who took the vitamins could better recall their dreams than the placebo group. (Neither group knew what they were taking.)
Participants said of their experiences that their dreams were "clearer and easier to remember," and they didn't "lose fragments as the day went on."
Another said "My dreams were more real, I couldn't wait to go to bed and dream!"
The study's author, Denholm Aspy from the University's School of Psychology, added: "Vitamin B6 did not affect the vividness, bizarreness or colour of their dreams, and did not affect other aspects of their sleep patterns."
Aspy added that this is the first time a study into the effects of vitamin B6 and other B vitamins on dreams has been carried out on "a large and diverse group of people."
The average person spends around six years of their lives dreaming, according to Aspy, meaning if we work out how to control them, we could use them more productively.
"Lucid dreaming, where you know that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening, has many potential benefits," he said.
"For example, it may be possible to use lucid dreaming for overcoming nightmares, treating phobias, creative problem solving, refining motor skills and even helping with rehabilitation from physical trauma."
But in order to effectively dream lucidly, you need to first be able to consistently remember your dreams. Adding more B6 to your diet could be one way to do this, according to the study.
It's found in foods like whole grain cereals, legumes, bananas, avocado, spinach, potato, milk, cheese, eggs, red meat, and fish.
According to an article in Scientific American, dreams are notoriously difficult to recall because the processes that allow us to create long-term memories are not occurring while we sleep.
For example, the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is important for remembering, is at very low levels when we sleep.
Also, we are more likely to remember a dream that is more emotional or logical.
Vivid, emotional dreams or nightmares mean your brain and body are more stimulated, which means you're more likely to wake up – and waking up straight from a dream means you are more likely to remember it.
There are some techniques that can help you recall your dreams better, such as reminding yourself just before you go to sleep that you want to remember your dreams.
Also, keep a notepad and pen by the bed, so you can jot down anything you immediately remember when you wake up.
"Even if you do not think you can remember a dream, take just a minute to see if there is any feeling or image you can describe," said Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep, in Scientific American.
"Following these simple steps may cause an entire dream to come flooding back."
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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