Consuming vitamin B6 supplements could help people to recall their dreams, new research from the University of Adelaide has found.
“Our results show that taking vitamin B6 improved people’s ability to recall dreams compared to a placebo. Vitamin B6 did not affect the vividness, bizarreness or colour of their dreams, and did not affect other aspects of their sleep patterns. This is the first time that such a study into the effects of vitamin B6 and other B vitamins on dreams has been carried out on a large and diverse group of people,”
said research author Dr. Denholm Aspy, from the University’s School of Psychology.
Clearer And Easier To Remember
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 100 participants from around Australia, who took 240mg of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) immediately before bed.
Prior to taking the supplements, many of the participants rarely remembered their dreams, but they reported improvements by the end of the study.
“It seems as time went on my dreams were clearer and clearer and easier to remember. I also did not lose fragments as the day went on,”
said one of the participants after completing the study.
“My dreams were more real, I couldn’t wait to go to bed and dream,”
another participant of the study said.
Vitamin B6 occurs naturally in various foods, including whole grain cereals, legumes, fruits (such as banana and avocado), vegetables (such as spinach and potato), milk, cheese, eggs, red meat, liver, and fish.
Adverse effects have been documented from vitamin B6 supplements, but never from food sources. Damage to the dorsal root ganglia is documented in human cases of overdose of pyridoxine.
Although it is a water-soluble vitamin and is excreted in the urine, doses of pyridoxine in excess of the dietary upper limit over long periods cause painful and ultimately irreversible neurological problems. The primary symptoms are pain and numbness of the extremities.
In severe cases, motor neuropathy may occur with “slowing of motor conduction velocities, prolonged F wave latencies, and prolonged sensory latencies in both lower extremities”, causing difficulty in walking.
Sensory neuropathy typically develops at doses of pyridoxine in excess of 1,000 mg per day, but adverse effects can occur with much less, so doses over 200 mg are not considered safe. Symptoms among women taking lower doses have been reported.
“The average person spends around six years of their lives dreaming. If we are able to become lucid and control our dreams, we can then use our dreaming time more productively. Lucid dreaming, where you know that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening, has many potential benefits. For example, it may be possible to use lucid dreaming for overcoming nightmares, treating phobias, creative problem solving, refining motor skills and even helping with rehabilitation from physical trauma.
In order to have lucid dreams it is very important to first be able to recall dreams on a regular basis. This study suggests that vitamin B6 may be one way to help people have lucid dreams,”
Dr. Aspy said.
Denholm J. Aspy, Natasha A. Madden, Paul Delfabbro
Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep
Perceptual and Motor Skills doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512518770326
Image: David Lindes/Flickr
Like This Article? Get Sciencebeta’s weekly digest of the latest research in health sciences, psychology, neuroscience, and medicine. Subscribe here for free