June 13, 2018
Most of us cannot remember what we think (or do) for about six years of our lives—the time that we spend sleeping. But now it’s possible to “live (or re-live) the dream.” A researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia has found that taking vitamin B6 just before bed can help people to recall their dreams.
Visiting Research Fellow Denholm Aspy, working out of the university’s School of Psychology, recruited 100 study participants nationwide in Australia, who were asked to take high-dose vitamin B6 supplements (about 240 mg) before bedtime for five consecutive days.
Prior to taking the supplements, most of the participants said that they rarely remembered their dreams. But afterward? “Our results show that taking vitamin B6 improved people’s ability to recall dreams compared to a placebo,” Aspy says, adding, “”Vitamin B6 did not affect the vividness, bizarreness or color of their dreams, and did not affect other aspects of their sleep patterns.
Indeed, one study participant said, ““It seems as time went on, my dreams were clearer and clearer and easier to remember. I also did not lose fragments as the day went on.”
Another also thought that the results were exciting, noting, “My dreams were more real, I couldn’t wait to go to bed and dream.”
Aspy is especially interested in “lucid dreaming,” which he describes as a type of sleep in which “the dreamer realizes that [he or she is asleep and dreaming] … and can then explore and even control the dream.” He says that lucid dreaming has a wide range of potential benefits and applications—among them, creative-problem solving, elimination of nightmares, treatment of phobias, and improvement of motor skills through rehearsal in the dream environment (e.g., for elite athletes or people recovering from physical trauma).
However, there has been very little scientific exploration of the potential applications of lucid dreaming to date. “The purpose of my research,” Aspy explains, “is to address this issue and develop reliable ways to induce lucid dreams …. This is the first time that such 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.”
He believes that, in order to have lucid dreams, “it is very important to first be able to recall dreams on a regular basis,” which this study helped participants to do.
Until now, vitamin B6 was recognized for a slew of health benefits—among them, ameliorating skin conditions, building the immune system, improvement in metabolism, and soothing premenstrual syndrome. It also aids in hormone control and in the treatment of emotional disorders, cardiac diseases, kidney disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, anemia, arthritis—and even the flu.
The availability of vitamin B6 is highest in foods such as whole grains, cereals, green beans, walnuts, and wheat germ. Also, one can include fish, eggs, meat, liver, and other types of meat to ensure a fair quantity of this vitamin. Other good sources of pyridoxamine are bananas, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and spinach.
He now will conduct further research in order “to investigate whether the effects of vitamin B6 vary according to how much is obtained from the diet.” Indeed, “If vitamin B6 is only effective for people with low dietary intake, its effects on dreaming may diminish with prolonged supplementation.” says Aspy.
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