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8 Ways to Improve Sleep by Enhancing Your Dreams Dreams are both the essence of restful sleep and a powerful tool for cultivating self awareness.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


How many times have you been lost in an amazing dream only to be startled awake by your alarm clock? Don't you wish that you could have dreams like that every night?

We all have had something like this happen to us. We all have dreams each and every night. The difference is that some of us recall our dreams more frequently, which gives the impression that some people dream more often. Others dream more lucidly. They are aware they are dreaming and can influence the dream differently and better.

As I strive to build my startup I become more and more self-aware. I find myself striving to understand myself better. Dreaming is a big part of this. Does the more we visualize our dreams coming true, make the more likely to come true? So this leads me to my question: how do you dream at night?

By following these eight tips, I've have more lucid dreams each night and recall them better the following day.

1. Give your melatonin levels a boost.

One of the best ways to improve lucid dreaming is by increasing your melatonin level. Melatonin is your body's internal alarm clock and regulates our sleep-wake schedule. The higher the melatonin level, the higher quality dreams that you're going to have at night.

You can improve your melatonin production by:

  • Having a consistent sleep schedule that will keep your "internal clock" on time.
  • Light exposure affects melatonin production. Sleep in complete darkness, if possible. A night mask is helpful if you can't make the room dark.
  • Foods that increase melatonin production include white and black mustard, almonds, sunflower seeds, cherries and flax seeds. While not as strong, oats, barley, bananas, ginger, tomatoes also increase melatonin.
  • Certain anti-inflammatory drugs and antidepressants can block melatonin production.
  • If you have a sleep disorder or are experiencing jet lag, take a small dosage of melatonin. Always follow label directions and don't take more of any medication or supplement than recommended.

Related: The Surprising Sleep Habits of the Rich and Famous (Infographic)

2. Start a dream journal.

Keep a pen and a dream journal next to your bed and start recording your dreams immediately when you wake up. Take the time each morning to jot down or draw your dreams, including every detail you can recall, along with the date and notes of any life changes that you're going through. Over time, you'll see patterns in your dream. You will be able to remember your dreams more easily , and the intensity may increase.

3. Get a good night's rest.

The longer you sleep, the more REM sleep your mind will generate, which means the more lucid dreams that you can recall. Getting more sleep means going to bed earlier, along with raising your melatonin levels and sleeping in a cool, dark room. The ideal temperature range for sleep is 60 to 67 degrees.

Other ways to get a good night's rest is to avoid taking naps, exercise daily and have a comfortable mattress. When you awaken in the morning, lie still in bed with your eyes closed and think about the dream you just awoke from or had during the night.

4. Reduce stimulants.

Exposure to light decreases melatonin levels. If you're lying in bed for hours on your computer or smartphone or watching television then can't fall asleep, cut back on electronics. Some experts recommend you have zero -- yes zero -- screens in the bedroom.

However, if you are going to spend some time using electronics before going to bed, then play a video game. According to studies conducted by Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University, "people who frequently played video games were more likely to report lucid dreams, observer dreams where they viewed themselves from outside their bodies, and dream control that allowed people to actively influence or change their dream worlds – qualities suggestive of watching or controlling the action of a video-game character."

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Never Feel Guilty for Sleeping (Infographic)

5. Change your body position.

Your body position influences the type of dream that you have throughout the night. After studying 670 participants, Dr. Calvin Kai-Ching Yu of Hong Kong Shue Yan University found that those who sleep on their stomachs have positive and wilder dreams. Snoring that interrupts dreams is likelier when sleeping on your back.

Right-sided sleepers have reported more positive dreams and fewer nightmares than those who sleep on their left side. If you sleep on your side, experiment with switching sides.

6. Relax before bed.

Take about five or 10 minutes to relax before going to sleep. Meditate in a quiet, dark room or just focus on your breathing. Meditation can influence your dreams, like replacing nightmares with positive dreams, such as picturing yourself gliding through the air. Being calm helps you remember more of your dreams. A scalp massage is a pleasant stress reliever that helps you relax.

7. Tell yourself that you're going to dream.

Before your doze off at night, repeat the phrase "I will know I'm dreaming." This technique is known as Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, or MILD, a fancy way of saying you're using a sleep aid. Assure yourself that you will remember your dream. Once you wake up, record your dreams in your journal and think about them. Your ability to remember your dreams clearly will improve if you are consistent.

8. Try the 'wake back' method.

Those wanting to experience lucid dreams should try the "wake-back-to-bed" method. Set your alarm to wake you after you've been asleep for around five hours. That's when you are more likely to be in REM sleep. When you awaken, write in your dream journal, then go back to sleep with the intention of having a lucid dream.

Be careful not wake yourself up to the point where you can't fall back asleep. A cup of coffee is definitely not a good idea during this time!

Related: Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

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