Unless you fell asleep to a not-so-soothing viewing of Saw, waking up with nightmares, not knowing what caused them, can be incredibly frustrating. Understanding that what you do right before bed affects your dreams is a start, but it’s hardly the definitive answer that puts your mind at ease. If you haven’t been able to pinpoint why bad dreams are disrupting your beauty sleep, keep reading!
Eating anything right before bed increases your brain activity, prompting vivid dreams and nightmares. And foods that cause indigestion—like spicy foods—will make you stir even more. Studies indicate that spicy food also raises your body temperature, which disrupts sleep and has a negative impact on your dreams.
Foods that take a long time to digest, like meat and dairy (cheese, especially), also increase nightmares. Snacking on ice cream and other high-fat treats before bed triggers more brain waves. However, with high fat content foods, it’s not just the late-night munching to watch out for: Research shows a correlation between the amount of fatty foods eaten throughout the day and the number of nightmares experienced.
Drugs that alter the chemicals in your brain, like narcotics and antidepressants, have been shown to increase nightmares for some people. The SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class of antidepressants, in particular, has been shown to make REM (rapid-eye movement sleep) bursts more intense, resulting in nightmares.
Here’s a strange one: Scientists have found that vivid dreams are often a symptom of an excess of vitamin B6 in the body. Since B6 is involved in the process of turning the amino acids we eat into the neurotransmitters that affect dreaming, taking B6 supplements could be to blame for your bad dreams too.
Have you tried any tricks for preventing nightmares? Share your tips below!