When it comes to diet and exercise, you’ve probably heard the old saying, practice makes perfect. But between an exhausting day at work and a demanding personal life — just how are you supposed to find the time to practice when you’re so tired? Well, incredible new research from the University of Heidelberg suggests hitting the gym and eating healthy could be as simple as falling asleep.
Because you could teach yourself to be healthier, IN YOUR DREAMS. Sounds crazy, but brand new research on the power of “sleep training” is actually starting to catch the attention of the scientific community. And pretty soon “sleeping in” might be just as good as waking up early to hit the gym! You see, an incredible new study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences has connected our dreams to mastering skills in real life.
Lead researcher on the project, Dr. Tadas Stumbrys, took 64 adults and had one group practice a complex finger tapping pattern in real life, and another group practice that same exercise in their dreams. How did they practice in their dreams? Well, these people were “lucid dreamers”, meaning they’re able to recognize when they’re dreaming, and make choices, just like when they’re awake.
So the next day, after both groups had “practiced,” the researchers had them perform that tapping pattern again to see which had memorized it better. And when the researchers tested the “dreamers” — they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The dream group actually memorized the complex tapping pattern better than the “awake” group. 1
According to the researchers, this is because “sleep practice” is an incredibly effective way to learn new things. It turns out, your brain is always awake, even when you’re not. In fact, when you’re dreaming, your brain works better because it’s not distracted by the outside world, which makes it SO MUCH easier to learn new things. By focusing on healthy food choices and exercise — instead of a finger tapping pattern — you could actually “train your brain” to crave healthy food and exercise while you’re awake!
So how can you start dreaming your way to a healthier life? Well, first, you need to learn how to lucid dream.
4 Tips for Lucid Dreaming:
1. Give yourself a “Reality Check”
This may sound silly, but while you’re awake, regularly ask yourself: “Am I dreaming?”
By training your mind to ask that question throughout the day, this will actually help you ask that same question in your dreams, making you aware of a dream when it’s happening, and letting you take control.
(NOTE: For maximum effectiveness, it’s recommended you give yourself a “reality check” at least 20 times a day.)
2. Write down your dreams
Upon waking up, write down a few sentences about your dream in a journal by your bed.
What was the weather like, what clothes were people wearing, did anything really interest you?
This “sudden writing” will help you retain so much more information about your dream, allowing your “awake” brain to better tell the difference between dreaming and real life next time, and over time this helps you take control over your choices while you’re dreaming.
3. Set an “Early Alarm”
Try setting an alarm for 1 hour before you actually need to get up. Then, when you wake up, keep your eyes shut and focus on whatever you were dreaming. Imagine you’re back in the dream, holding on to what just happened.
By keeping your eyes shut, you’ll block out any external stimulation of the real world — keeping your dream fresh in your mind.
And drifting back to sleep after waking ensures your mind is “activated”, even though you’ve still got another hour to dream.
4. Take your Vitamin B
Are you having trouble lucid dreaming, because you just don’t ever dream?
Well, research shows that taking a healthy dose of Vitamin B5 or B6 before bed can help people have more dreams — with increased vividness.
If you follow these 4 tips, you could be “lucid dreaming” as soon as tonight.
And if you find yourself in a lucid dream, try to do something healthy, like go for a run, or eat a fresh salad.
Remember, since it’s a dream — you’re free to do ANYTHING!
And according to the latest scientific research, when you wake up… you might be in the mood to do these things for real.
1. Stumbrys T, Erlacher D, & Schredl M (2016). Effectiveness of motor practice in lucid dreams: a comparison with physical and mental practice. Journal of sports sciences, 34 (1), 27-34 PMID: 25846062.