Every night when you drift off to sleep, you enter the mystical world of dreams. Psychologists explain that your dreams are just a way for your subconscious to communicate with your conscious mind. However, the dreaming phenomenon is still unexplainable to a certain level.
We all dream, even if some of us don’t remember the dream the very next day. Dreams can be disturbing, downright bizarre, or entertaining. One thing is for sure – when you have a happy dream at night, it not only lifts your mood for the next day, but it also makes sleeping enjoyable.
There is a Native American tradition of putting a dreamcatcher right above your bed to chase off bad dreams. But is there another way to stimulate good dreams? Read our article, and you’ll find the answer to this question.
What Are Dreams?
Basically, dreams are thoughts, feelings, images, and stories that your brain creates while you sleep. Your dreams can be quite vivid; they can induce sad, happy, or scary feelings. Dreams may seem perfectly rational or quite confusing. Some dream in black and white, while others dream in color. Furthermore, blind people can even have more dream components associated with taste, smell, and sound.
Dreams can occur at any time during your sleep. We can even dream more than once during a night’s sleep. However, you experience your most vivid dreams during a sleep phase known as REM (rapid eye movement) when your brain is most active.
A lucid dream is a dream in which you know that you’re dreaming. These dreams come with a boost of activity in areas of your brain that are often restful while you’re asleep. Basically, lucid dreaming is a state of your brain between being awake and the REM sleep cycle.
Certain lucid dreamers have the ability to influence their actions in a dream, thus changing the story. This tactic can be quite helpful sometimes, particularly if you’re having a nightmare. That can be one way to consistently have happy dreams, but a dream expert’s opinion is that it’s better to let your dreams take their natural course.
A nightmare is just a bad dream. Nightmares are quite common in both adults and kids and the most common causes are:
- Side effects of medications or drugs
- Fear, conflict, and stress
- Emotional issues
If you don’t know why you’re consistently having nightmares, consult a mental health professional. They might be able to detect the reason and provide you with some tips to put you at ease. It’s important to keep in mind that regardless of how scary your bad dream is, it’s just a dream, but you might be reading this to find a way to prevent them. Just stick with us.
Why Do You Dream?
In order to explain how to have happy dreams, we need to discern the reasons why we dream in more detail. There are numerous different theories about the purpose of dreaming; here are some of them:
- Processing emotions. The ability to rehearse and engage with our feelings in various imagined contexts can be part of our brain’s method for managing emotions.
- Building our memory. The process of dreaming has been linked with the consolidation of memory. This suggests that dreaming can serve as an essential cognitive function of reinforcing our memory and data recall.
- Mental housekeeping. Dreaming can be the brain’s method of clearing away partial, unnecessary, and erroneous data.
- Accidental activity of our brain. This theory holds that the dreaming process is only a by-product of the sleeping process that has no particular meaning or purpose.
Psychology and neuroscience experts continue to research and experiment in order to reveal what is happening in our brain while we’re asleep. However, it may be impossible to conclusively determine why people dream.
Ways to Stimulate Better Dreams
While nothing can guarantee happy dreams, there are some tips that you can try to get better sleep, destress yourself, and increase the chances of avoiding bad dreams. Here are some of them:
Create Good Sleep Environment
As we previously said, dreams happen during your REM sleep, which is the last stage of your sleep cycle that occurs more frequently during the second half of the night. To have more happy dreams, you need to have a good night’s sleep to make sure that you get as much REM sleep as you can. Moreover, rapid eye movement sleep stages are connected to improved focus, better emotional regulation, and memory.
In order to have better sleep, you need to practice healthy sleep hygiene. So, keep your sleep environment as cool, quiet, and dark as possible. You can utilize a sleep mask or blackout curtains to block out any unnecessary light. A white noise machine or earplugs can also help to minimize the noises from the environment. Your room temperature also plays a part in your sleep quality, so try to set it to 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 degrees Celsius).
And finally, practice a relaxing bedtime routine before going to bed. Don’t use any electronic devices, including your smartphone, at least an hour before bedtime, take a warm bath, or do some meditation or aromatherapy.
Increase Your Levels of Melatonin
One of the best methods to have pleasant, happy dreams is by increasing your melatonin levels. Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, is the internal alarm clock of our body, and it maintains our circadian rhythm. The higher the level of melatonin is, the better dreams you’ll experience during the night.
Here are a few tips on how to increase your levels of melatonin:
- Keep to a regular sleep schedule; you’ll keep your body’s internal clock right on time.
- Exposure to light decreases melatonin levels. Sleep in a room as dark as possible.
- Eat foods that are rich in melatonin, including fish, eggs, meat, nuts, milk, mushrooms, germinated seeds or legumes, some cereals, cherries, etc.
- Certain antidepressants and anti-inflammatory medications can decrease the production of melatonin.
- If you suffer from sleep disorders or experience jet lag, you can use a small dose of melatonin for a night of better sleep. Remember to always follow the description on the label and never use more of any supplement or medication than recommended.
Increase Your Intake of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is very important for all body functions. Additionally, vitamin B6 is associated with the vividness of your dreams. You can take it as a supplement to ensure that you’ll get enough vitamin B6. You can also consume vitamin B6 through foods such as avocado, banana, beans, pork, beef, poultry, nuts, corn, whole grains, or fortified bread and cereals.
Eat Food Reach with Tryptophan
First of all, let us tell you what tryptophan is. Basically, it’s an amino acid that can increase sleepiness and decrease the period of time it takes you to fall asleep. Our body uses this amino acid to produce serotonin, which is quite important for good sleep.
Eating food that is rich in tryptophan is always a good idea if you’re trying to have happy dreams since it can improve your sleep quality. Chicken, turkey, fish, milk, peanuts, tofu, soy, and pumpkin seeds are some of the foods that contain tryptophan.
Avoid Intense Stimuli Before Bedtime
While watching the latest adrenaline-pumping or scary movie can be an evening full of fun, this type of evening can lead to bad dreams. If you’re involved in intense or scary content before bedtime, you’re more likely to experience scary dreams and disrupted sleep.
Stimulants such as spicy food, alcohol, sugary foods, nicotine, caffeine, and heavy meals can have that same effect.
Don’t Exercise Before Going to Bed
Getting regular exercise is excellent for your wellness and overall health because it decreases your stress levels and can help you get enough sleep during the night. But, exercise has a stimulating effect; therefore, you shouldn’t engage in this type of activity before going to bed if you’re trying to have happy dreams.
Otherwise, you can have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the whole night, which will ruin the chances of experiencing pleasant dreams and can lead to sleep deprivation. Exercise at least four hours before going to bed if you want to have the best results.
Destress Before Going to Bed
If you’re not in a good mood when you’re trying to fall asleep, then this can have a really bad effect on your dreams. In general, anxiety and stress can disturb your dreaming and sleeping patterns. So, avoid working on stressful things such as big work/school projects or taxes right before bedtime.
If you need to deal with something stressful, try to do it at least three hours before bedtime. That way, you’ll have time to calm down, relax, and prepare your brain for pleasant dreams. Additionally, you can try some of the following techniques to relieve stress before bedtime: meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, or breathing exercises.
A Few Words Before You Go…
In the end, as you can see from our article, dreams are very difficult to control. However, with some of the ways we’ve mentioned above, you can promote happy dreams throughout the night. You’ll find it quite helpful if you take stock of bad, unpleasant dreams and confront the unresolved problems that occur.
Another crucial factor is getting enough sleep, but probably the most important piece of advice we can give you would be to consult a mental health professional if you can’t resolve the issues on your own.