Dreams are the brain’s way of working out problems and conflicts. But when you have a string of unsettling dreams, we understand why you want answers. According to clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Deirdre Barrett, there are certain things that can affect your dreams and even promote nightmares. Here are things that may affect your dreams and ways to improve your sleep.
Recent studies indicated that smelling something sweet before going to bed can lead to positive dreams, while poor odors lead to negative dreams. One study actually showed that taking a whiff of flowers at a particular point in the sleep process led to a positive dream. While nothing is definitive, research is ongoing. Dreams are sleep protective so not everything sniffed while asleep will be incorporated into your dream.
The power of sounds
Sounds, like smells, are not always incorporated into your dream. If the sound is too loud you will be woken up, and if the sound is low enough, you may not remember it. According to sleep experts, a good rule of thumb is to play a soft recording of music or white noise, like ocean waves, throughout the night. There are times when you might wake up remembering a beach vacation and feel more relaxed because of the ocean waves you listened to the night before.
Eating spicy foods
Eating spicy foods may lead to indigestion, which can lead to a poor night’s sleep. Whether it’s Mexican food or a large meal just before bedtime, chances are you will have a nightmare or negative dream. To get a healthy night’s sleep that is uninterrupted, it is best to consume a meal at least two hours prior to going to sleep. This is especially true if you are prone to heartburn or are lactose intolerant.
Going to bed without dinner
While too much food before bedtime can lead to nightmares, going to bed hungry can also cause sleep issues. Many people experience sleep issues when on a diet and because they go to bed without eating. They may experience hunger pangs and low blood sugar, which may rouse you from slumber. There are cases when hungry sleepers actually dream about food.
Watching horror flicks
Chances are your parents have been telling you to avoid scary movies before bedtime for years. There may be some truth to your mother’s warnings. Doctors report that the movies you watch, the books you read, and the music you listen to just before drifting off to bed, may influence your sleep. It is not uncommon for a nightmare to occur if you’ve just finished a horror flick. Instead of immediately going to bed after watching something scary, take a few minutes to unwind with happy thoughts.