This article appears in Summer Boomers magazine.
Taking vitamin B6 before bed can enhance the ability to recall them when you wake, according to new research published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.
For the study, researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia recruited 100 people, half of whom took a high dose of 240 mg vitamin B6 for five consecutive days immediately before bed while the others took a placebo. The people who took B6 reported an improvement in the ability to recall dreams, said research author Denholm Aspy from the university’s School of Psychology.
“These results are really exciting is because they indicate that vitamin B6 might be an effective way to boost recall,” Aspy said.
Before taking part in the study, many participants reported rarely remembering their dreams.
“Vitamin B6 did not affect the vividness, bizarreness or color of their dreams, and did not affect other aspects of their sleep patterns,” Aspy said. “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.”
What is B6?
B6 is a vitamin found in avocados and bananas as well as whole grain cereals, legumes, spinach, potatoes, milk, cheese, eggs, red meat, liver and fish. The National Institutes of Health suggests the average male adult older than 50 get 1.7 mg daily and that women over 50 get 1.5 mg. The maximum recommended daily intake is 100 mg. Taking too much can result in numbness in the body. Ask your doctor before taking any supplements.
“One of the reasons why this is exciting is because improving dream recall is the most important practice for having lucid dreams,” Aspy said. Lucid dreaming is where a person knows he is dreaming while the dream is still happening.
“Lucid dreaming makes it possible to control the dream and has potential benefits such as overcoming nightmares, treating phobias, creative problem-solving, refining motor skills and even helping with rehabilitation from physical trauma,” Aspy said.
The average person spends around six years dreaming, he said. If a person can control their dreams they can be used more productively.
Further research is needed to investigate whether the effects of vitamin B6 vary according to how much is obtained from diet.
If vitamin B6 is only effective for people with low dietary intake, its effects on dreaming may diminish with prolonged supplementation, Aspy said.
The MILD technique
Developed in the 1970s, the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams is a technique to help remember dreams.
In the recent National Australian Lucid Dream Induction Study, 53 percent of participants found success in a single week using it, Aspy said. Here are Aspy’s simplified steps:
1. Set an alarm for five hours after you go to bed.
2. When the alarm sounds, try to remember a dream from just before you woke up. If you can’t, just recall any dream you had recently.
3. Lie in a comfortable position with the lights off and repeat the phrase: “Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember I’m dreaming.” Do this silently in your mind. You need to put real meaning into the words and focus on your intention to remember.
4. Every time you repeat the phrase at step 3, imagine yourself back in the dream you recalled at step 2, and visualize yourself remembering that you are dreaming.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you either fall asleep or are sure that your intention to remember is set. This should be the last thing in your mind before falling asleep. If you find yourself repeatedly coming back to your intention to remember that you’re dreaming, that’s a good sign it’s firm in your mind.