How to Have Good Dreams

Four Parts:Creating the Right EnvironmentEating RightReducing StressVisualizing Dreams

Dreams are your body's way of processing stimuli from your life. The things that you see, smell, hear or do right before bed can affect the pleasantness of your dreaming. In addition, your stress level and expectations about your dreams can also have an impact on how you sleep. You can learn how to have good dreams by adjusting your environment and visualizing good dream outcomes.

Part 1
Creating the Right Environment

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    Choose calming music before going to bed. Research shows that music can have an impact on dream content.[1][2] For this reason, the music that you listen to several hours before bed can either improve or worsen your dreams. Choosing music that is calm, quiet, and repetitive may help you have good dreams.
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    Use white noise. Studies show that white noise can help induce sleep.[3][4] If you sleep soundly, you may have better dreams. You can take advantage of white noise in several ways:
    • Small electric white noise generators are now available at many retailers. These produce sounds like static, ocean waves crashing, and forest noises, all at soothing volumes. Turn one on as you go to sleep to see if it helps you have good dreams.
    • You can also purchase or stream sound recordings of white noise.[5] You can play these on a stereo set, computer, smart phone, etc. when you are trying to go to sleep, and reap the benefits of good dreams.
    • Some people also find that a fan turned on low provides a gentle level of white noise.
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    Use aromatherapy.[6] Research shows that smells can impact a person’s mood, and so surrounding yourself with pleasing scents (such as lavender) can help you have good dreams, get over recurring bad dreams, and avoid insomnia.[7][8][9] Fresh flowers and aromatic oils, for instance, can be used for this purpose. In addition, you can light incense and/or scented candles as you are approaching your bedtime. However, you should be absolutely sure that you extinguish these before going to bed to avoid accidentally causing a fire in your sleep.
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    Get comfortable.[10] To sleep well and have good dreams, you should be in a comfortable place and position.
    • Choose whatever mattress, bedding, and pillows feel most comfortable to you personally.
    • Sleep on your side, if possible, rather than your back or stomach.
    • Control the temperature of the room so that it is cool (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit).[11] If you do not have a way to set the temperature of the room, you can open a window or use a fan to cool it, or add another blanket to make your bed warmer.

Part 2
Eating Right

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    Avoid going to bed hungry. It is best not to eat a big meal right before bed.[12][13] However, if you haven’t eaten enough, you might wake up hungry, creating a fitful sleep.[14] If you need to, have a small snack before going to bed, such as a banana and a glass of milk.
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    Try eating foods with tryptophan. Numerous studies show that tryptophan (an amino acid) increases sleepiness and reduces the amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep.[15] The human body uses tryptophan to help produce serotonin, which is believed to be important for healthy sleep. Thus, eating tryptophan-rich foods may lead to better, more lucid dreams. Such foods include:
    • Turkey
    • Chicken
    • Fish
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Milk
    • Peanuts
    • Soy
    • Tofu
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    Increase your intake of vitamin B6. This vitamin is important for a host of bodily functions. In addition, initial research shows that it is connected to the vividness of a person’s dreams.[16] You can take a vitamin B6 supplement to make sure you get enough of it, or eat more foods that are high in this vitamin, including:[17]
    • Banana
    • Avocado
    • Beans
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Nuts
    • Poultry
    • Corn
    • Whole grains
    • Fortified cereals and breads
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    Avoid stimulants and depressants. If you are trying to have good dreams, avoid coffee, caffeinated sodas, nicotine, and other stimulants. The effects of these stimulants can make it hard to sleep well.[18][19][20] Similarly, you should avoid depressants like alcohol. While they may initially make you feel drowsy, they may disturb your sleep and prevent good dreams.

Part 3
Reducing Stress

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    Avoid exercising near the time you want to sleep. Getting regular exercise is good for your overall health, may reduce your stress levels, and can help you sleep at night. However, exercise has a stimulating effect, so you should not engage in strenuous activity near your bedtime. Otherwise, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, which can ruin your chances of having good dreams.[21][22][23][24]
    • Exercise three hours or more before your bedtime, for best results.
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    Don’t work in bed or right before bed.[25][26][27] If you attempt to do work when you should be trying to go to sleep, your brain will be too preoccupied. This can disrupt your sleep, and make it harder to have good dreams. For best results, keep separate places for sleeping and working.
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    Destress. If your mood is off when you are trying to go to sleep, then more than likely your dreams will suffer. In general stress can disturb sleep and dreaming.[28] Don’t argue before bed, go to bed angry, or work on stressful things like taxes or big work/school projects right before bedtime.[29] If you have to deal with something stressful, try to do so well before your bedtime, so that you have time to relax and prepare your mind for good dreams. In addition, you can try any of the following methods to relieve stress before going to bed:

Part 4
Visualizing Dreams

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    Use a dream journal. Get into the practice of writing down your dreams within 5 minutes of waking up. Experts believe this is the length of time a person typically has before forgetting dreams.
    • Starting a dream journal may also improve your dream memory recall, making dreams more satisfying.[30][31] If you get in the habit of recording your dreams, you are more likely to remember them.
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    Try controlling the dreams you have. Some research shows that you can influence the dreams you have.[32][33] This means that if you want to dream about something, you may be able to make this happen just by thinking about it as you drift off to sleep. When you wake up, immediately think about whether or not you dreamed of what you wanted to.
    • If you are just trying to have good dreams in general, start thinking about various places, activities, etc. that make you feel good. Keep these in mind as you fall asleep.
    • If you are trying to dream of a particular person or place, start to visualize the person or place as you fall asleep.
    • If you are trying to solve a problem or puzzle in your dreams, find a way to visualize it. For example, if you need to write something, try to image a blank piece of paper and pen, and yourself beginning to write, as you fall asleep. As you sleep, you might dream about how to write what you need to. When you wake up, immediately write down the thoughts you had in your dreams.
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    Reimagine bad dreams. If you have had a lot of nightmares or bad dreams, you can try rehearsing new dreams when you are awake. In other words, you should imagine a new ending where your bad dream becomes a good dream.[34][35] This is a technique known as imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT).[36] Over time, it can help reduce the anxiety the thought of bad dreams can cause, and make you more prepared to have good dreams.
    • For example, if you have a recurring dream in which you fall a great distance, imagine that you have wings and can fly. That way, the fall won't be a problem.
    • Likewise, if you have dreams about being chased down a dead-end alley by a herd of zombies, imagine that there is a door at the end of the alley so that you can escape.

Sources and Citations

  1. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1997-41252-004
  2. http://www.unr.edu/counseling/virtual-relaxation-room/releasing-stress-through-the-power-of-music
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1792397/
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Categories: Dreams