10 Surprising Things That Affect The Nature Of Your Dreams

by Angel Chang
Angel is a writer on the Original Content team at LittleThings. Check out her articles about crucial tips on female and doggie health. She loves to take long walks, volunteer with kids, try new food, browse through burger recipes, and code in her spare time. Feel free to let her know what you'd like to see her write up next.

Our brains work in mysterious and fascinating ways. From regulating our responses to external stimuli to creating the complex subconscious, our minds can give us significant insight into our lifestyles, deepest thoughts, and sleep patterns.

In an exclusive look below, we’ll go through some of the most intriguing ways your brain interprets totally random things in your life, and see how these things may affect your dreams.

Similar to the interesting facts that may be causing our weird sleeping habits, the factors outlined below may be a little surprising — and definitely a little odd.

I had no idea that things like sleeping positions, sudden noises, and even specific foods can induce bizarre dreams!

Hopefully after reading this, you’ll be better informed about the unique elements that may be shaping the nature of your dreams.

Scroll further to see how your dreams and sleep patterns are influenced by everyday factors. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

1. Going To Sleep Hungry

Weird things that affect your dreams
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Frequently dubbed “hunger pains,” the discomfort caused by going to sleep hungry can affect more than just the quality of your sleep.

Low blood sugar can keep your brain mentally alert, causing you to wake up one too many times throughout the night.

Sleep studies conducted by Dr. J. Catesby Ware, PhD, at Eastern Virginia Medical School, showed that hungry patients actually almost always dreamed about food.

So you’ll be more likely to recall your dreams if you stay hungry, but you’ll also risk lowering your metabolism and energy levels.

2. Unexpected Sounds

Weird things that affect your dreams
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“[Sounds] need to be low enough that they don’t wake you, but high enough that you perceive them,” Dr. Deirdre Barrett, PhD, told Woman’s Day.

It’s strangely easy for external sounds to make their way into our dreams, because although we’re technically asleep, our minds still interpret all the noises around us — the ones that are loud enough, that is.

Research conducted by the Association for the Study of Dreams shows that dreams influenced by sounds differ greatly from dreams that were not affected by sounds at all. Some people even hear the same exact sounds in their dreams!

3. Vitamin B6 Supplements

Weird things that affect your dreams
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Many researchers say that vitamin B6 helps give people extremely vivid dreams.

While there isn’t enough concrete evidence to prove this phenomenon, our bodies use these vitamins to process the amino acids from our food, turning them into the neurotransmitters that work to shape our dreams.

They may also affect the quality of your dreams and your ability to remember them in the morning. Some studies have shown that patients experienced more bizarre, emotional, and action-packed dream sequences after taking vitamin B6 supplements the night before.

4. Sudden Smells

Weird things that affect your dreams
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Similar to sounds, external smells may have a profound effect on our dreams. Our brains apparently translate these smells into signals, and then incorporate them into our subconscious.

“Dreams are sleep protective,” says Dr. Ware. “So instead of waking up, you incorporate those stimuli into your dream.”

One study at the University Hospital Mannheim in Germany even showed that smelling nice things, like a bouquet of flowers, at one point during the sleep cycle could lead to more positive dreams.

Nasty odors like sulphur and rotten eggs, on the other hand, can result in a series of bad dreams.

5. Distinct Sleeping Positions

Weird things that affect your dreams
Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Extensive research has been done on different sleeping positions. Scientists suspect that specific positions directly affect the type of dream you may have.

Most people start off by sleeping on one side. A smaller percentage of surveyed patients sleep on their backs, and a mere 11 percent of people sleep on their stomachs.

Interestingly, a study published in Dreaming, a scholarly journal dedicated to sleep analysis and dreams, suggested that sleeping on the belly is heavily linked to erotic dreams. This might be caused by the restricted breathing patterns and body movements brought on by the sleeping position.

6. Growing Up With Black-And-White TVs

Weird things that affect your dreams
Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Many people dream in black and white.

This might sound strange, but a study published in 2008 at the University of Dundee showed that the type of television you watched as a kid greatly affects the color and nature of your dreams.

The study found that patients over 55 years old had dreams in black and white more than 20 percent of the time. Other studies have shown that a large percentage of patients started dreaming in color after the 1960s, which coincides with the invention of color TVs.

If you watched TV in black and white from ages three to 10, then you’re definitely more likely to dream in grayscale.

7. Repressed Fears

Weird things that affect your dreams
Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

We all deal with our own deep-rooted fears. Some of us may have a chronic fear of flying or heights, or we’re petrified by dangerous animals or slimy foods.

Research studies have shown that “suppressing, intrusive thoughts” brought on by our fears may have distressing effects on our dreams.

The more you try to put away unwanted thoughts, the more they tend to creep into your subconscious and erupt into full-blown nightmares.

8. Closely Shared Genes

Weird things that affect your dreams
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There are several mind-blowing facts about twins, who can have up to 99.99 percent of the same DNA material.

Scientists have also discovered, rather eerily, that the strong genetic ties between twins can even cause nightmares to occur at the same time and at the same frequency.

Though more evidence is needed to further demonstrate this wacky phenomenon, those with very similar brain volumes and structures do repeatedly experience similar dream content.

9. The Earth's Magnetic Fields

Weird things that affect your dreams
Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

It may sound a little odd, but the Earth’s magnetic field can have a significant influence on dreams in certain people.

Darren Lipnicki, a psychologist who recorded his dreams for eight years, found that his dreams seemed to correlate to fluctuations in geomagnetic activity, or the movement of these fields.

When geomagnetic activity was low, he would apparently experience weirder dreams. When activity was high, he would have more normal or “sensible” dreams.

Of course, more research is necessary, but his findings have provided a basis for studies on the relationship between magnetic tides and melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates dreams.

10. Different Kinds Of Cheese

Weird things that affect your dreams
Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

A study conducted by the British Cheese Board found that there was a link between nightmares and consuming too much cheese right before bed.

But that’s not all — different cheeses can have wildly different effects.

The study found that patients who regularly ate cheddar cheese had more dreams about famous people, and those who loved blue cheese reported the most bizarre dreams. Lancashire cheese caused nostalgic dreams, and Cheshire cheese gave people completely peaceful nights.

What’s the best dream you’ve ever had? Let us know in the comments below.

Please SHARE if you think dreams are fascinating!