Zzzzzzzzzz the chicken has a machette. No mummy I can't play the piano....
August 19, 2010 4:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I dream more...?

I know that everyone dreams, but I never remember mine. For once I'd like to wake up wondering what the cat was going to do with the army of cucumbers, or convinced that I live in a house made of pork pies, you know?

The nearest I've ever got is that a couple of times a year I'll doze off again after the alarm and I'll kind of half dream / half plan my day ahead. There's no six foot chickens, just boring anticipations of what my brain expects will happen in the next 24h.

So... is there any way that I can get to experience or remember my dreams...?

For what it's worth, I've been using a sunrise clock for years, and I'm almost always awake before the alarm goes off. But I've not recalled any dreams on nights when I've been awakened early by other alarms or external stimuli.
posted by sodium lights the horizon to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Vitamin B6 and/or 5-HTP.
posted by griphus at 4:04 PM on August 19, 2010

could you have a friend observe you while you sleep and (gently) wake you up just after they note the cessation of rapid eye movement?
posted by kimyo at 4:07 PM on August 19, 2010

If you remember them EVER, even a little bit, keeping a dream journal supposedly works (I've done it and had it work, but n=1 isn't a huge sample size, so...). Keep it by your bed and NO MATTER WHAT (middle of the night, seems insignificant or boring, you're sure you'll remember it later, etc.) write down any piece of a dream you can recall. Basically, train yourself to get better at remembering. The writing portion of this really helped me, but I can see variations on it working, too, like describing the dreams out loud to a recorder (digital or otherwise).
posted by eralclare at 4:13 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Following some direction on lucid dreaming (there are tons of different options, just google it) might also be worth a shot.
posted by eralclare at 4:14 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could try wearing a nicotine patch to bed, if you want to risk developing an addiction. When I wear them at night I always have crazy awesome dreams and remember them in the morning. I can even get up, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water, get back in bed, and fall back into the same dream. The only real drawback is sometimes I dream so hard that when the alarm goes off in the morning I don't really feel like I've slept at all.

Another thing to try might be eating something spicy right before bed. For some reason if I do that I usually have wild dreams that I remember in the morning.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:15 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take melatonin.
posted by koselig at 4:17 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've always been a vivid dreamer but let me tell you... when I started taking Paxil my dreams got turned up to 11. My dreams were each crazy ten part mini-series with storylines so complex they would put LOST to shame. And they were so vivid that I would remember colours, the feeling of fabrics, smells, etc. Some crazy shit went on in those dreams and I remember every detail.

Seriously man... Anti-depressants... That's your key...
posted by gwenlister at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

However, that would require being depressed, so maybe not.
posted by gwenlister at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Valerian root.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2010

Keeping a dream journal helped me with this.
posted by sninctown at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Basically, train yourself to get better at remembering.

This works on the other end too—repeat to yourself as you drift off to sleep that you'll remember your dream when you wake up.

Also, if you use marijuana regularly, stopping that will very likely help.
posted by carsonb at 4:41 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is in most sleeping aides. It can give you some pretty wacky vivid dreams.
posted by sanka at 4:46 PM on August 19, 2010

Dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) gives me crazy dreams. They're memorable too, because for me, dxm dreams always loop - they get to a certain resolution (or non-resolution) point and then go back to the beginning, like three or four times.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:48 PM on August 19, 2010

Melatonin gives a lot of people especially intense dreams. One commercial version of it is sold as Midnite, which also has some other herby things like lavender and chamomile to help people relax to sleep. I use it fairly often. I've always had intense, vivid, memorable dreams (and trouble sleeping which helps me to remember them) but after taking Melatonin I've definitely had even crazier, more easy to remember, and bordering on lucid dreams.
posted by Mizu at 4:49 PM on August 19, 2010

Keep a journal by your bed and jot down any details AS SOON as you wake up. It won't work if you decide it can wait until after you go to the bathroom. You won't remember. It will be gone. They are that tricky.

The lucid dreaming suggestion is good, though, because they do have a lot of information about remembering. But I find dreams in which I've become lucid are remembered more vividly than others.
posted by vienaragis at 4:57 PM on August 19, 2010

Another vote for melatonin. I get crazy, hilarious dreams like every night I take it.
posted by sugarfish at 5:39 PM on August 19, 2010

If you're not afraid of chemical solutions but aren't looking for anything as radical as Paxil or Diphenhydramine, you might give Piracetam a try.

I started taking it several months ago to see if it would do anything to help general focus and recollection - ~2400mg in the morning and again just before bed. I have noticed a slight overall improvement of day-to-day mental performance, nothing so major that I wouldn't write it off to a general "making an effort to do better" attitude. However, what I did notice was quite a bit more vivid and complex dreams and remembering them more often. Pretty much right out the gate.
posted by StickyC at 5:45 PM on August 19, 2010

I wake up in an inexplicable panic combined with a pounding headache after four or so hours of sleep whenever I take melatonin more than one day in a row, so YMMV.
posted by dobie at 6:19 PM on August 19, 2010

As someone who's used/abused just about every sleep aid available (benadryl, melatonin, valerian root, ambien, etc), I can't say that any of them have ever noticeably altered my dreaming.

On the other hand, 5-HTP (which never did a damn thing for my mood) has consistently caused my dreams to be more vivid.

As far as moira's link is concerned, I am not a doctor, so I cannot definitively speak to the safety of consuming 5-HTP. The author, however, got some things wrong. The endomyocardial fibrosis associated with carcinoid tumors only occurs when the liver has been compromised; otherwise, the liver has no problem metabolizing excess serotonin in the blood. That's why SSRIs (which affect blood platelets too) don't cause significant rises in plasma serotonin levels, but MAOIs do (when intake of tryptophan isn't carefully regulated). His references to 5-HIAA levels in the urine are also off the mark, but I won't get into that here.

In short, if you have a working liver and are not taking certain enzymatic inhibitors, 5-HTP supplements at normal dosages are not going to be dangerous. It's possible to overdo, though—be careful about mixing too many serotonergic drugs/supplements at once.

Also, as far as crazy dreams go, the stronger opioids (e.g. morphine) are notorious for causing vivid and disturbing dreams, but I can't say I recommend that route.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:49 PM on August 19, 2010

There's also sweet gale, an herb which is supposedly known for dream enhancement. Available as a tea from these guys.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:52 PM on August 19, 2010

If you want to remember dreams, KEEP A DREAM JOURNAL.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and remember something, anything, a color, a smell, write it down. In the morning DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE until you have though about your dreams and written EVERY TINY DETAIL down.

Do this every day without fail.

This is how you improve what some call "dream recall". This is "remembering dreams" and this is the answer to our question. Do this diligently and you will eventually remember dreams. Some people start out at a very high level of recall, others take months to remember a whole dream.

When keeping a dream journal regularly I can remember 6+ dreams a night and it become quite an impossible chore to write down all the details (like trying to write a chapter of a novel every day).

Lucd dreaming is NOT what you are asking about here. Lucid dreaming is "being aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming". It can go hand in hand with dream journaling, but it is a totally different thing, a specific type o dream.

Short answer: to get better at remembering dreams, write everything, anything you remember about them as soon as it pops into our head.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:04 PM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, I'm on my iPhone right now but I know quite a bit about dreams, remembering dreams, and lucd dreaming so feel free to memail me.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:05 PM on August 19, 2010

try napping, or sleeping at a time when you don't normally go to sleep. your brain will be more active and prone to producing craziness.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:17 AM on August 20, 2010

Adding to the lists of drugs, Trazodone intensifies my dreams when I take it (prescription sleep aid), and if you look about online you'll see people complaining about the intense-dream side effect.

Seconding the dream journal idea: while I rarely write my dreams down, for decades I've spend the time as I'm slowly waking up thinking about the dreams I've just been having, so it's second nature to me now. Once I go to waking-brain thoughts, if I'm distracted by, say, the cat jumping on the bed or my boyfriend saying something to me, they're usually gone if I haven't made a specific effort to remember them.
posted by telophase at 11:16 AM on August 20, 2010

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