Have you ever wondered what factors have a capacity to actively affect our dreams? Apart from our everyday events and experiences, many other things play role in shaping our dreams. Outside stimuli, sleeping position, childhood memories, even the Earth itself have an effect on the contents and the pleasantness of our current dream. Actually, as it turns out, a lot of things can find their way into our heads. The human brain has a way of incorporating all of these sensations into the storyline of the dream we are experiencing at the moment.
The sounds we hear while we sleep can be easily picked up and blended into our dream. People have reported dreaming about train sirens or fire alarms that turned out to be the sound of their alarm clock. Others have a habit of playing their favorite album while falling asleep to induce pleasant dreams or play ocean sound and dream of being at the beach. So when you hear a sound from your reality while you are sleeping, it is introduced in the current dream in a way that makes sense to your subconscious.
Smelling different odors while sleeping can also form our dreams. The smells are not literally introduced to the dream but they play a role in the emotional interpretation of the dream. The smell of flowers or perfumes in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep helps induce pleasant dreams, while the smell of Sulphur (ex. from rotten eggs) can induce uneasy dreams or nightmares.
3. Sleeping position
Every person has their own preferred sleeping position. That is the position in which you are in before falling asleep and the one in which you wake up in the morning. People who tend to sleep on their bellies have reported to have erotic dreams or dream of being chased or suffocated. This is connected to the difficulty breathing people experience when they sleep on their bellies. Short irregular breaths associate them with sexual experiences or remind them of choking or running.
4. Prescription medications
There are a number of prescription medications and even vitamins that have effects on the sleeping process and the sleep phases. Some pharmaceuticals can cause extremely vivid dreams. Other drugs like antidepressants and Vitamin B6 can affect the memory of the dreams. People who have taken these for a period of time have reported greater dream vividness and dream recall.
People who are going through a withdrawal process tend to dream about the thing they are trying to quit. That may be smoking, cutting down of sugar, coffee or any everyday habit that they have had for a long time. So it isn’t surprising if you start to dream about hamburgers or chocolates while you are on a weight losing diet. Quitting smoking or alcohol consumption can have an effect on your dreams even years after the habit is kicked off.
6. Earth magnetic activity
The geomagnetic activity can have a significant impact on the dream content and sleeping comfort. High magnetic activity is associated with normal and more logical dreams while low magnetic activity can influence you to have extremely weird dreams. The disturbances in the geomagnetic activity are found to affect variations the secretion of melatonin which is the hormone that controls the sleeping and waking cycles.
7. Childhood television
One of the more surprising factors that have an impact on the dreams is the color of the television you have watched as a child. Can you try to imagine a black and white world for a moment? Studies have shown than elder people who have watched black and white television while they were children have mostly colorless dreams. The age which is considered to be crucial when exposure to TV is in question is between three and ten years which is the age that most people start to recall parts of their dreams.
“Dreams are sleep protective, so instead of waking up, you incorporate those stimuli into your dream.” Catesby Ware, PhD – Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School
“If odor has a strong effect on your emotions when you’re awake, it makes sense for it to have a strong effect on your emotions when you’re asleep.” Boris A. Stuck, MD – Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Mannheim, Germany
“Nicotine withdrawal enhances brain activity in a way that can make you dream more.” Patrick McNamara, PhD – Director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine