It turns out there's some truth behind that old saying “you are what you eat,” but I'm actually not referring to your physical appearance, my friend. Think about the last time you woke up from an insane nightmare. Now, think about what you had for dinner that night. If you've ever wondered how food affects your dreams, consider the ways in which food affects every other area of your body. Your stomach, brain functionality, and how well you sleep are just a handful of ways food impacts your overall well-being, so is it really that surprising that a plate of loaded nachos before bed can amplify an otherwise average dream? I don't think so.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there's not a whole lot of scientific evidence that directly correlates the foods you eat to the dreams you have. However, there's no denying the connection when you look at how your digestive system has a hand in almost everything your body experiences. So, it may not necessarily be about the specific foods you eat, but rather when you eat them, and how they affect the rest of the body.
That being said, a lot of specific food groups and items have been connected to how you dream, what you dream about, and whether or not you wake up remembering your nightly adventures. Here's how indulging in these seven foods can affect your dreams.
1. Spicy Food
I'm the person in your friend group who will happily order extra hot wings with her personal pizza and soak up every last bit of wing sauce with the pizza crust. No, you can't have any, sorry.
Interestingly enough, this may be why my dreams have always been so vividly bizarre. According to Woman's Day, loading up on spicy foods can not only alter your dreams, but can also increase your chances of remembering them due to the fact that these foods usually cause indigestion.
2. Cheese (And Other Dairy Products)
A study performed in 2015 investigated how food influences dreams by issuing a three-part questionnaire on the subject to 396 college freshmen. Results showed that of those who agreed that food and dreams are linked, "the most frequent foods mentioned as causing both disturbing (44 percent) and bizarre (39 percent) dreams were, in fact, dairy, including cheese, milk, and ice cream."
A lot of people are sensitive to dairy, so while eating a large pizza with extra cheese before bed might sound like a genius idea when you're trying to curb midnight munchies, it could also potentially lead to some funky dreams.
3. Baked Goods
Well, this explains a lot.
If you're accustomed to dessert before bed, you might want to rethink that sleeve of Oreos (I know, I'm sorry). Eat This, Not That! reports that one study found 31 percent of participants' "bad dreams" occurred when they indulged in sweet treats like cookies and cake before nodding off to sleep.
I know what you're probably thinking: Cookies, cake, and now I can't even eat chocolate? But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
As I like to say, enjoy everything in moderation. It's true that chocolate is high in caffeine, so similarly to how you'd most likely switch to decaf a few hours before bed, it's in your best interest to nibble on a few pieces of any kind of chocolate as a snack after lunch, instead of as a post-dinner treat.
5. Greasy Take-Out
Something about cruising through the Wendy's drive-through window at 1 a.m. makes a bacon cheeseburger combo with fries taste like a dream, but the later in the day (or earlier in the morning) you eat greasy foods, the more likely you are to have nightmares.
Instead, choose baked over fried foods if you're looking to curb a craving. Otherwise, stick to whole foods like fruits and veggies for more relaxing dreams.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
According to Spoon University, one spoonful of apple cider vinegar before you snooze can potentially result in some eerily realistic dreams throughout the night.
7. Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches
While this food hasn't been said to induce crazy nightmares or anything of the sort, some have hailed it as "the perfect dream food."
According to Dr. Gary Wenk, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Ohio State University, dreaming takes a lot of energy, and you know what they say about food being fuel. To ensure you're getting enough energy and serotonin, Dr. Wenk suggests eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner or as a snack.
He told First We Feast,
Sleep is a very active process and your brain needs a lot of sugar. I actually recommend to people having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before they go to bed: The bread and the jelly are great sources of simple carbohydrates, which are terrible usually, but great for sleep.
So I can't eat cake, but I can load up on PB&J before bed? I'll take it.