Did you know that the average person spends up to two hours dreaming during an eight-hour sleep cycle? If you were to add it all up over your lifetime, that's about six years worth of dreams!
Sadly, even though many of us have between three and seven dreams every night, most of them are forgotten. Even if we do remember, we only recall bits and pieces of it.
There are some among us who have the cool ability to control their dreams. In a 2012 survey of about 3,000 people, 34% of the participants were able to lucid dream and make them about whatever they wanted.
However, for the rest of us who have trouble remembering even one dream, there may be a solution that could change things.
In a study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Psychology in Australia revealed that they have found a link between dreams and vitamin B6.
Inspired by a small 2002 study that looked into the effects of B6 supplements on dreams, the team conducted a larger sleep study with 100 volunteers.
"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," said one of the lead authors Denholm Aspy.
The participants were split into three groups, each getting a different supplement - vitamin B, vitamin B complex, and a placebo. They were then asked to log their dreams in journals, which were analyzed after five days.
Researchers found something very interesting about the vitamin B complex group. The participants reported lower quality of sleep than the B6 and the placebo groups. So it's a possibility that certain B vitamins may have negative impact on sleep.
However, it was the results of the vitamin B6 group that got researchers really excited. The group that were taking vitamin B6 were able to recall their dreams better than the rest.
While the previous study showed that vitamin B6 increased vividness, color, and emotion of dreams, this recent study didn't see any change in quality, just improvement in ability to remember.
However, the researchers are looking forward to carrying out further studies to determine whether or not vitamin B6 could potentially induce lucid dreaming.
"If we are able to become lucid and control our dreams, we can then use our dreaming time more productively, said Aspy."Lucid dreaming, where you know that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening, has many potential benefits. 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."
"In order to have lucid dreams it is very important to first be able to recall dreams on a regular basis. This study suggests that vitamin B6 may be one way to help people have lucid dreams."
Aspy and his team are also trying to determine if B6 from food we eat, including fish, chicken, and starchy vegetables, would have the same effect on dreams.
While these findings are really exciting, it's important to note that B6 is toxic at higher doses, so it should never be taken without consulting a doctor.
If you'd rather not overdose on B6, there are some easy steps you can take to take control of your dreams.
In order for lucid dreaming to happen, you have to be calm and distraction-free. Try some relaxation techniques, like meditation, before you go to sleep.
After losing the stress, it's important to not try to force the process. If you've never done it before, it may not happen overnight, but don't let that discourage you. Just follow all the steps, and keep practicing, it'll eventually happen.
2. Keep a dream journal
Keeping a dream journal is one way to easily recall your dreams, which is key in the lucid dreaming process. The more you can remember, the more you'll be able to control what is going on.
Learning about lucid dreaming will also improve your chances of achieving this special ability. There is an abundance of information about lucid dreaming out there, so read about the topic to better understand what it is.
5. Do reality checks
Differentiating between dream state and reality is also important when you want control. An easy way to identify whether or not you're dreaming is to do small reality checks. Try pushing your finger through your palm, if you're awake it won't go through, but if you're dreaming, it will.
6. Turn off screens
You should avoid having electronic devices, like televisions, computers, and phones, in the bedroom. These screens will keep your body from producing the sleep hormones you'll need to feel tired enough to lucid dream.
If you can't keep them out, make sure you turn them off at least an hour before you go to bed.
7. Set an alarm
As previously mentioned, you need to be tired to lucid dream, so if you want to control your dreams in the morning, you can't be waking up fully rested.
Try setting an alarm for two hours before your usual wake up time. The jolt that you get from the ringing actually increases your chances of falling back asleep. This is known as a "wake back to bed" or WBTB.
8. Keep your eyes shut
As tempting as it is, when your alarm goes off, do not open your eyes. This will allow your mind to wake up, while you try to fall back asleep and lucid dream. You can do reality checks to determine whether or not you're in dream state or reality.
Once you realize you're dreaming, don't get too worked up about. Sure, it's really exciting when you're finally able to do it, but over-stimulating your bran will wake you up quickly.