Sleep Care

Influence Your Dreams

If you’re like most people, you’re probably fascinated by dreams. But did you know that it might be possible to influence your dreams? Whether it’s stopping a recurring nightmare caused by post-traumatic stress disorder or using dreams to solve problems, research shows that it just may be possible.

Recently, several studies have been conducted that indicate that it may be conceivable for people to influence their dreams. For instance, one study found that your sleeping position influences your dreams. For instance, the researcher claims that sleeping in the prone position may cause people to have sexier dreams while sleeping face down may cause people to dream about being restrained in some way. Experts believe this may be the result of the unconscious brains trying to make sense of external stimuli. Additionally, sometimes the brain will even incorporate external stimuli it into dreams.

Meanwhile, smells may also influence the emotions you feel while dreaming according to a study conducted at University Hospital Mannheim in Germany. During the study, brain activity was monitored and when the participants reached rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage sleep researchers gave people whiffs of a rose scent and whiffs of a rotten egg scent.

Although the scents weren’t incorporated into anyone’s dreams, the people who received the rose scent reported more pleasant emotions about their dreams. And, the people who received the rotten egg scent reported feeling negatively about their dreams. Some experts indicate that this preliminary study may give some insight into how outside experiences or sensations can impact how dreams are formed.

Here are some additional ideas for influencing your dreams:

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  • Think vividly about the problem or the person you want to dream about right before bed.
  • Place something on your nightstand that reminds you of the person or problem, like a picture or a diagram.
  • Use a concise verbal statement before bed to try to prompt your brain to dream about something specific once you’re asleep.
  • Give your brain some input during the night. For example, playing music or a movie continuously while you sleep can influence the direction of your dreams.
  • Work out an alternate scenario ahead of time for nightmares or post-traumatic stress disorder dreams. Think about how you want the dream to end and meditate on that. Sometimes counselors will provide tapes to listen to at bedtime that help prompt the different ending to the dream.
  • Eat cheddar cheese before bed. According to a study by the British Cheese Board, eating cheese before bed can cause you to dream about celebrities.
  • Ask yourself a question repeatedly before bed if you are trying to solve a problem or make a decision. If you do dream about an answer, don’t base your decision solely on your dream. Instead, use your dream as an “option” to consider.
  • Don’t jump out of bed immediately. Almost all dream content will be lost if you get distracted. Instead, lie there and see if you can remember anything or focus on any emotions you are feeling when you awaken.

Another option for influencing your dreams is a new app for the iPhone, called Dream:ON. With this app, you indicate the type of dream you want to have and when you want to wake up. Then, you place your phone on your bed and go to sleep. Dream:ON will monitor your sleep pattern and when you enter REM sleep, it will play the “Soundscape” to your subconscious while you are sleeping. The app continues to monitor your sleep and adjusts the volume to be sure you don’t wake up.

In the morning, Dream:ON provides a graph of your movement during the night. It also allows you to tag friends on Facebook if they appeared in your dream and invites you to post a short description of your dream in your Dream Bank.

Whatever your method you choose for influencing your dreams, it takes practice. You probably won’t experience success during your first few attempts. But with persistence and a plan, you can enter dreamland on your terms and have more control over what you experience during your

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