Did your mother ever tell you not to eat candy before bedtime because it causes nightmares?
Yeah, ours did, too.
But now that we are semi-grown adults, we wanted to delve a little deeper into this notion. Was mom’s warning based on fact or just strategic parenting?
A recent study by Russell A. Powell and Tore Nielson, researchers at the Dream & Nightmare Laboratory in Montreal, called Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: food and diet as instigators of bizarre and disturbing dreams, examines the theory that some foods may cause nightmares.
So we decided to read their report, and this is what we found:
- 382 participants (126 males and 255 females, and 1 gender unspecified) were studied
- There’s a whole slew of science behind this theory, which you can see in the actual research
- Eating late was perceived to affect the participants’ dreams, producing primarily disturbing dreams (47%) but also dreams that participants characterized as “bizarre,” “vivid,” “odd,” “strange” or “crazy” (22%)
Here are the types of foods and the dreams they created:
- Dairy products were the foods most frequently identified as influencing both disturbing (44%) and bizarre (39%) dreams.
- Sweet foods were also frequently mentioned as influencing dreams, but primarily in relation to bizarre (31%) rather than disturbing (13%) dreams.
- Spicy foods were predominantly mentioned as a precursor to disturbing dreams (19%) as were starchy foods (16%) and meat (13%).
Without getting too technical here, this is what we’re gathering from this small study:
- Eating late causes disturbing/bizarre dreams
- Eating dairy (like ice cream…sorry!) causes disturbing/bizarre dreams
- Eating sweets (mom was right!!) causes disturbing/bizarre dreams
- Eating spicy/starchy/meaty foods causes disturbing/bizarre dreams
- Drinking water is fine
Thanks, mom. Way to be right... again.