Good day, class. Thank you for joining us for lesson 6 of Sleep School. We have discovered many in our previous weeks, ranging from lucid dreams to the relationship between exercise and sleep. This week, get your knives and forks at the ready as we look at how certain foods can dictate our dream state and why this happens. We’ve all heard that cheese can give us nightmares and that we shouldn’t eat to soon before going to bed. But are these factual, or just another bedtime story.
Let’s start off with dreaming as a whole. We generally have three to four dreams every night, although we don’t tend to remember all of them. Most of these dreams that we retain normally occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of our sleep, when our brains are most active. So chances are that certain foods don’t cause us to have more dreams, but they could be instigating certain scenarios in our dreams. For example, having a heavy meal or fatty foods before bed isn’t recommended as we should be allowing enough time for our food to digest and reduce our chances of indigestion, resulting in disrupted sleep and causing more dramatic dream scenarios. And the same can be said for the opposite; having an empty stomach. So essentially, you want to be going to bed feeling comfortable.
Now let’s look at specific foods. As previously mentioned, the one that seems to come to mind is cheese. But, did you know, a small square of cheese about 30 minutes before bed can actually result in more pleasant dreams. So crack out the Edam and Stilton! Other foods that will help promote good dreams are turkey and fish, both of which are high in vitamin B6 and tryptophan. Pair these with a meal high in carbohydrates and you will be snoozing easy. And why not wash this down with some milk. This is high in melatonin and help to regulate our sleep pattern and help us to sleep longer.
What you should be avoiding before bed is sugar, and I’m afraid to say chocolate is one of the worst offenders. The high sugar content can make dropping off a more strenuous task. Compounds specifically found in chocolate have a psychoactive effect on our brain, enhancing our dream state, for good or bad, AND produce adrenaline that increases our blood pressure and heart rate. All in all, creating a bumpy ride through the land of nod. Be sure to also avoid spicy foods if you don’t have a tolerance to it as these can create some pretty strange dreams due to the ton of energy that the body uses up digesting it.
So there you go. A few myths busted and some new facts brought to light. So keep clear of those late night Lamb Balti’s and enjoy some fish and veggies if you’re peckish before bed. Be sure to pop back next week for another Sleep School.