Food and Dreams

One of my friends in this class wrote a blog entry about the effects that different types of cheese can have on your dreams. I thought this topic was so interesting because I had never heard of anyone eating a certain type of cheese and having an outrageous dream. She told me that different types of cheese could make you feel like you are on different kinds of drugs in your dreams, which I thought was extremely interesting. This got me thinking, can any type of food affect your dreams?

Image result for peanut butter and jellyThe first article I came across listed different types of foods and how they affect your dreams. The first food the article listed was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The article says this type of food promotes happy dreams because of the high amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Sugary foods are good because our brains require a lot of sugar. The amount of protein from the peanut butter and the carbohydrates from the bread, when combined help boost the amount of serotonin produced in your body. The article lists a couple other types of food including cheese. They did not go into much depth with it, besides explaining that numerous studies have been conducted in which people would eat cheese and monitor the type of dreams they had.

(Image Source: PB&J)

I decided to search for another article that instead of focusing on how certain foods aid your sleep, I wanted to find out how certain foods affected your dreams. I found this article
 that talks about a man having consistent nightmares, sleep apnea, and a snoring problem. The man was Image result for chocolate involved in a serious car accident about 10 years before this experiment took place, which could have had an effect on the results. After this accident, was when the man started developing these bad sleeping habits. The man and his wife also mentioned that chocolate was something they ate frequently. Chocolate, when consumed before sleeping, can cause someone to have more vivid and enhanced dreams. This article talks about the psychoactive effects that chocolate has on the brain. In this article, it states that milk and cheese can cause you to have happier and more relaxed dreams. They also go on to quote Dr. Lori Shemek who states that the effect food has on dreams can change depending on the person having the dream. Your dreams are altered due to the digestion process, what phase of sleep you are currently in, and even the setting you are currently sleeping in. Dr. Lori Shemek also states that you should stay away from eating larger meals before you go to sleep, because if your body is having a harder time digesting the food, it could cause you to have nightmares and even disturb your sleep cycles.

(Image Source:Chocolate)

Eating foods containing excessive amounts of fat could also influence your dreams. Going off of what I said earlier about your body having a harder time digesting foods can cause nightmares, that is what happens when you eat foods containing a lot of fat.

This article does not just talk about what you are eating before you sleep, but when you are eating before you go to sleep. When you eat right before you go to sleep your body temperature increases and so does your metabolism. The combination of these two things could enhance your sleep, especially during the REM phase.

I didn’t realize so many different foods, or the amount of food you are consuming before you go to sleep, could affect your dreams. If I were to research this topic into more depth I would probably focus on one type of food: Chocolate, cheese, spicy food, or carbs, and study the effects of those foods individually rather than as a group.

7 thoughts on “Food and Dreams

  1. Rebecca Aronow

    I always thought that it was bad to eat right before bed, but I never thought about the effect that specific foods have on dreams. The National Sleep Foundation states that although certain foods may be better for sleep, like peanut butter, as opposed to spicy foods, like you stated, they still advocate not eating much before bed and also making sure to avoid alcohol and stimulants like caffeine, because those disturb your sleep patterns. Having to expend energy digesting food can inhibit your relaxation and sleep. So although I understand the science behind peanut butter being good for dreams, there’s also not enough research for me to believe that this food definitely leads to better dreams. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, is also a food filled with energy, so it would make sense that chocolate before bed could lead to disturbed sleep patterns and therefore bad dreams. I think it would be interesting to conduct a study that took brain MRIs of different patients that ate various foods before bed, so that we could see if there are any biological mechanisms at play. Because the problem with relying on questionnaires and individual reflections of dreams is that it’s easy to only see connections when they’re there but ignore when the connections are not. It’s also hard to categorize dreams when dreams are so complex and also often hard to remember. So finding a clear mechanism would really determine whether these foods truly affect our sleep and the way we dream.

  2. Christina Rae Locurto

    Coming from someone who is a big fan of sleeping, I was intrigued by your blog post. I don’t have dreams very often, so maybe I’ll have to eat a few of these foods before I sleep and see if it helps me dream or not. One thought I had reading through your blog post was the affect drinking apple juice has on dreams. I remember a few of my friends telling me once that drinking apple juice before bed can trigger you to have lucid dreams; so I wonder if it could actually have an affect. After a quick google search, I came across no articles/scientific studies that prove nor disapprove of this topic; just a few forum posts about the topic. But mere anecdotes from people who claimed to have lucid dreams after drinking apple juice is not concrete evidence to support this theory, and I would rather have scientific data to back it up instead. I would probably conduct an experiment that involved a random group of people, give them apple juice, and then monitor their brain waves to see if they had dreams/lucid dreams.

  3. Brandon Ross Armitt

    Interesting that you decided to blog about this because just a couple days I was talking to a friend and she said that she has been having a lot of bad dreams while sleeping. She did her own research about the possible causes of nightmares. One of the things that she came across was she had a tendency to have a snack before going to bed, and a lot of those nights she would end up having some type of dream. In order to see if there was a correlation between eating and nightmares, she stopped eating before going to bed and saw a dramatic decrease in the nightmares that she was having. So I was able to come to the conclusion that food did have an impact on your sleep cycle, but what intrigued me more was what exactly was happening inside the brain to cause something like this. I would of never thought that your bodies in ability to digest food would cause nightmares.

    Attached is a link that talks about a study that was done, trying to find a correlation between eating before bed and nightmares:

  4. Matthew Jacobs-Womer

    Very ironic reading this article; last night I ate a bag of rice before going to sleep and had enjoyable dreams. Now this could have no correlation to eating the bag of rice (carbs), or it could, but it does go along with how the PB & J, because of the carbs, causes happy dreams. Last year I took a psychology course and dreams were one of the major things we talked about. I learned you have nightmares to handle stress, it is your brains way of coping with the issue. Now I do not know if the body is under stress while digesting food and that could be the reason for the nightmares, but it is a very interesting concept. I found this article that explains a study on the correlation between eating before bed and dreams. However, at the conclusion of the article, the author refutes the concept. She does this becasue she believes that people in the study would have had the dreams anyway but they remember what they ate right before they went to be, so they attribute the dream to what they ate. Very well written post, keep up the good work!

  5. Andie Lynn Sullivan

    I thought this article was very interesting because I have heard before that eating certain foods before sleep could affect your dreams but never really understood how that could be the case. I never did any research on it but this article gave me better insight as to why the nutritional components in different foods could affect your mind at night. This article gives an insight to different types of food and how they affect your dreams, but also just you sleep cycle in general so I found it a very interesting read.

  6. Alexander Mark Schaefer

    I’m happy to read something related to this topic. I often do not sleep well, but most of the times I eat nothing before bed, the few nights where i decide to have a meal before I go to sleep, I sleep much better. If I do not eat or eat a small snack, I often find myself waking up in the middle of the night quite often. Part of this could be due to the type of food I eat. Here’s an article discussing what foods have certain effects while you sleep.

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