Our bodies have a very fascinating way of incorporating outside stimuli such as smells, sounds and sensations into our dreams, instead of waking us up. There are plenty of influences that can shape how your dreams play out. Your natural dreams often times help you process your thoughts and feelings about your day. According to certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenburg, too much interference can be disruptive to the message your dreaming mind is trying to give you.
Sounds. Real-life sounds can find their way into our dreams’ storylines. Plenty of us have incorporated the sound of our alarm clock in our dreams, maybe in morphed into the sound of a fire alarm or telephone ringing. While it is possible to purposely influence your dreams with specific soundtracks or the sound of the ocean, it is not recommended, it interferes with the cognitive work of dreams. For restful sleep, white noise is recommended, it improves your sleep by drowning out the sounds around you and it allows organic dreaming to occur.
Smells. In a small 2008 study, researchers introduced a positive smell, roses or a negative smell, rotten eggs when women enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – a prime time for dreaming. The women reported that smelling roses yielded positive dreams, while the rotten eggs produced negative dreams.
Smells work the same way they do when we are awake. The smell of chocolate, perfume or flowers evokes positive emotions when we are awake, so it is logical that dreams follow a similar pattern. The biological explanation is that the limbic system part of the brain that controls the ability to receive smell also receives emotions.
Sleep position. The best way to remember your dreams is to stay in the same position you were in when you woke up. A recently study also found that sleeping on your stomach increases the chances that you will have a dream about being persecuted or an intimate encounter. The theory is that the when you are sleep on your touch, it’s harder to breathe, and the way your body is pressed to the mattress causes those dreams to form.
Your State of Mind. Your mental state, not just what happens to you and around you, has a huge impact on your dreams. Research has shown that depression can affect the color palette of your dreams, such as making them black in white, gray tones or muted colors. Loewenberg also explains that weather patterns in our dreams are also connected to our mind frame. Anxiety brings tornadoes, clear minds brings sunny days and sadness can bring rain.
Quitting. If you are trying to quit something, such as smoking or give up sugar, you are more likely to dream about it. If you diet or cut out sugar, your dreams are likely to feature a delectable buffet of treats. People who quit smoking tend to have dreams about smoking for the first couple of years afterward stopping the harmful habit — and some are visited infrequently by such dreams even 30 years later
Drugs and Vitamins. There is a extensive list of ways in which pharmaceuticals can influence your dreams. Many prescription medications affect REM sleep and can make your dreams really crazy. Nicorette, for example, tends to give people intensely vivid dreams. Drugs can also affect dream recall. Since depression makes you less likely to remember your dreams, anti-depressants can counteract that effect. Vitamin B6 has also been shown to help people remember their dreams more vividly and easily.
If you find that dreams are affecting your sleep negatively, a great way to keep track is to use a sleep diary. You’ll be able to note all of the possible factors that could contribute to your sleep quality. Set yourself up for positive dreams that lead to a positive morning.