Taking vitamin B6 before bedtime could help enhance dream recall [Photo: Bigstock]

Vitamin B6 could aid dream recall

1 May, 2018

Natural Health News — New research from the University of Adelaide has found that taking vitamin B6 could help people to recall their dreams.

The study published online ahead of print in Perceptual and Motor Skills, included 100 participants from around Australia taking high-dose vitamin B6 supplements before going to bed for five consecutive days.

“Our results show that taking vitamin B6 improved people’s ability to recall dreams compared to a placebo,” says research author Dr Denholm Aspy, from the University’s School of Psychology.

Noting that vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, did not affect the vividness, bizarreness or colour of their dreams, and did not affect other aspects of their sleep patterns, Dr Aspy added: “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.”

Quick summary

» A small study from Australia has found that taking 240mg B6 before bedtime helped participants remember their dreams.

» 240 mg is a relatively high dose but within a safe supplemental range.

» Participants only took vitamin B6 supplements for 5 days; it’s possible that the effects of vitamin B6 supplementation could diminish over longer periods.

Lucid dreams

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study saw participants taking 240mg of vitamin B6 (as 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. This dose was chosen because 240mg pyridoxine hydrochloride is equivalent to 197 mg of pyridoxine, a dose slightly below the No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) of 200 mg pyridoxine established in the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.

“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.

According to another participant of the study, “My dreams were more real, I couldn’t wait to go to bed and dream!”

Dr Aspy says: “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.”

In this study, participants only consumed vitamin B6 supplements for a 5-day period. It is possible that the effects of vitamin B6 supplementation on dreaming diminish over longer time periods.

But how does it work?

The study suggests that the effects of vitamin B6 on dreaming may be because of its role as a cofactor in converting L-Tryptophan to 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), and in converting 5-HTP to serotonin. However it also acknowledges that vitamin B6 is known to cause disrupted sleep and that more awakenings may provide opportunities for short term memories of dreams to be recalled and transferred into long-term memory. In this study however B6 did not appear to affect sleep quality.

Vitamin B6 allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates and is essential for haemoglobin in the blood. It 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.

“Further research is needed to investigate whether the effects of vitamin B6 vary according to how much is obtained from the diet. If vitamin B6 is only effective for people with low dietary intake, its effects on dreaming may diminish with prolonged supplementation,” says Dr Aspy.