The Neurological and Psychological Significance of Dreams
Dreams have long been considered a source of spiritual enlightenment, creative inspiration and a means of exploring the subconsious mind. If you are interested in learning more about the psychological significance of dreams and how to improve your dream quality and memory (or how to lucid dream), I’m sure you have already read many articles on the internet that give the same cliched advice: relax before bed, don’t look at computer or phone screens before bed, think about dreaming etc. Although these are helpful, every one has probably heard this advice before and so writing another article with the same advice would not be of benefit to you. Below are six unique tips that I have personally found to be helpful but that are not frequently (if at all) listed in other “how to dream better/lucid dream” articles.
1. Stop drinking (as much) alcohol before bed.
A glass or two of wine or beer is fine on occasion and can help you get to sleep, but alcohol decreases your REM sleep, and over many nights can not only negatively affect your ability to dream, but also decreases the quality of your sleep and your ability to remember things.
Melatonin is the hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland and helps keep you asleep. It has been thought in ancestral cultures that the pineal gland was the source of our third eye, or connection to the divine, and for good reason, because melatonin helps keep us alseep, and therefore gives us the gift of dreams. Moreover, it has been found that melatonin is an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer. Most stores offer melatonin in various doses: 1mg, 3mg, 5mg and 10mg. I have had my share of poor sleep due to working odd hours. So melatonin has been my life saver. However the smaller doses didn’t seem to do much for me. I’ve found that 5-10 mg 30-60 minutes before bed offers the best results. My favorite brand is Natrol’s sublingual tablets, because they are fast dissolving and thus exhibit faster onset of action.
This is purely anecdotal, as I have not been able to find evidence or studies that support this, but I find that having a tough workout involving weights at the gym (rather than pure cardio, like running) improves my sleep and increases the quality and my recollection of dreams the night after the workout. I'm unsure whether it has anything to do with increased secretion of growth hormone (GH), which usually occurs at night. GH secretion can be stimulated with weight training exercise. On a side note, growth hormone has been shown to have profound effects on the brain. It has been shown to exhibit beneficial effects on memory, mental alertness, and psychological motivation.
4. Alpha brain
I was introduced to Onnit’s Alpha Brain by my husband who takes it for his memory. When I started taking it, I noticed that I had extremely vivid dreams as an additional effect. I frankly enjoy my dreams and remember them more often with Alpha Brain. For more information on Alpha Brain, see my Review.
5. Stimulate your mind with challenging new material
Read – a book, not news articles on your phone. Learn a new language. Or a new instrument. Expose yourself to as many novel concepts and experiences as you can. Studies show that learning a new or difficult skill can increase the time spent in REM sleep during sleep, thus increasing your dream time.
6. Write down your dreams
This has been shown to increase ones ability to remember dreams and may even make dreams more vivid.
- The book by Dr Yalom that I reference in my video which discusses dream therapy in one chapter.
- Interesting article that discusses the psychological benefits of dream analysis:
- Comparing personal insight gains due to consideration of a recent dream and consideration of a recent event using the Ullman and Schredl dream group methodshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471350/