Can Certain Foods Cause Us to Have Vivid Dreams?

Once my friend told me that eating an apple before bed makes you have really weird and vivid dreams. I didn’t know if I believed her so I tried myself and that night I didn’t have a dream at all, or at least I didn’t remember the next morning. So now I pose the question, can certain foods cause one to have vivid dreams?

First I decided to see if this idea is even true. When researching this, I came upon a study that the British Cheese Board did in 2005; this study was about how different cheeses can give someone different types of dreams. They did this study because of the common myth at the time saying that cheese gives you nightmares. To give you a summary of this study, 200 people (100 male and 100 female) volunteered to participate in a week-long study where “72% slept well every night, 67% remembered their dreams and none recorded experiencing nightmares after eating a 20g piece of cheese half an hour before going to sleep.” Dr. Judith Bryans a Nutrition Scientist at The Dairy Council disproves the myth that cheese gives us nightmares by stating, “ One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan – has been shown to reduce stress and induce sleep so cheese may actually help you have a good night’s sleep”. Clearly proving that is scientifically impossible for one to say the cause of nightmares is because of the cheese they ate the night before, and even saying that cheese can actually aid one’s sleep. This study went even further to show some similarities between the content of the dream and what type of cheese they ate before sleeping. Of those who ate Stilton cheese 85% reported to have very unusual dreams, cheddar cheese led to 65% to report about have dreaming about celebrities, where as Red Leicester cheese had over 65% have dreams about their childhood. British Brie cheese made all 100 female participants to have relaxing dreams and the majority of the men had cryptic dreams. Lancashire cheese led two thirds to dream about work and more than 50% of those who ate Cheshire had a dreamless sleep. (source of all the results)

 

Other studies and surveys have been done since the British Cheese Board, one survey included first year Canadian University students if they thought food influences their dreams and if so what foods. Of those who believed that food does indeed influence dreams in a negative aspect (disturbing dreams), 39% included dairy products (cheese, milk, ice cream), 19% were spicy foods, and sweet foods were split 27% believing it causes bizarre dreams rather than the 13% who thought it causes disturbing dreams.

As300 Dr. Bryans stated before, cheese has high levels of tryptophan, which actually aids one to fall asleep and causes more vivid dreams. Therefore foods with high levels of tryptophan as well as vitamin B6 (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) will cause one to have more intense vivid dreams and also aid in recall of those dreams. Foods that fit in that category include chicken, soybeans, turkey, tuna, venison, lamb, salmon, halibut, shrimp and cod. All these foods all give 0.29-0.41g of tryptophan on average. Therefore yes some foods can influence one’s dreams however the amount of tryptophan in those foods is the deciding factor on how much they affect one’s dreams.

4 thoughts on “Can Certain Foods Cause Us to Have Vivid Dreams?

  1. Jenna Snyder

    I think that this is an interesting topic in that I have noticed that I have had weird dreams after eating certain foods right before bed. For me, if i eat something high in carbs I usually have bad dreams or nightmares. I do agree and believe that dreams can be triggered by foods but I also believe dreams are affected by your bodies state. By that I mean, if a person is really tired they are going to sleep faster and deeper to try to regain their lost energy that was exerted the day before. A person will not have a dream unless they enter into the deepest level of sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement). I agree with a comment above that the test that you provided in the blog does not account for a lot of the possible third variables.. What happened in that persons day, what they were thinking about before they fell asleep, or if they were using technology before they fell asleep. So, I do think it is possible that food can affect sleep for some but not all.
    Here is a website that talks more about the stages of sleep.
    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-101

  2. Angelique L Santiago

    Wow, I have never heard of this before. I for one love to snack before I go to sleep, and rarely have dreams at night. It could be possible that certain foods influence dreams and that the amount of tryptophan can determine how great of an influence specific foods can have, however, i think it is more likely that there are third variables involved. It might help if people reflected on all of the other things they do before they go to bed. For instance, the use of technology could be a factor. But, you never know! Stranger things have happened! So, go to the following link and learn more about this topic if you are interested 🙂
    http://firstwefeast.com/eat/how-does-food-influence-our-dreams/

  3. Victoria Anne Rooney

    Interesting topic. I definitely think it’s something you can delve deeper into with additional posts. It is such a broad study with so many possible experimental options that it seems nearly impossible to conclude with one consistent result. As many experiments have, confounding variables in the “cheese study” are probably innumerable so I wouldn’t say it’s possible to draw any kind of conclusion. However, I do think these kinds of studies may be relatively easy to conduct; even for a student. I was impressed with how you decided to test out the effect of an apple on your own dreams , though. Here’s a great article that talks about many food habits that affect sleeping patterns if you ever want to use it for future posts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-bulkeley-phd/effect-of-food-on-dreams_b_6647820.html

  4. Allison C Lightner

    I think that some of your points are logical and make sense, but I think it is a little ridiculous that specific foods could affect someone’s dreams. There are third variables that could also have a hand in the studies shown. You have know idea what the different people had experienced that day, what they watched or how they react to different things. So that needs to be taken into consideration. Have you thought about the person’s mentality as an affect of this study? Why do you think that men have different kinds of dreams compared to women when eating the same food? Overall, I found this blog to be very interesting and I had no idea that if there was more tryptophan in a food it would make you have more vivid dreams.

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