A new study from researchers at the University of Adelaide suggests that taking vitamin B6 supplements before sleep may help a person better remember their dreams the next day. It is hoped that the specific vitamin could be recruited in the future to aid the process of lucid dreaming.

The new research was inspired by a small experimental study from 2002 that examined the effects of vitamin B6 on dreaming. With a cohort of only 12 people, the study found that taking 250 mg of B6 five-minutes before bed significantly increased the vividness, color and emotionality of dreams.

Denholm Aspy, from the University of Adelaide, set out to replicate this study with a much larger sample of 100 participants and a broader set of variables. The investigation was randomized, and double blind, splitting the participants into three groups: a placebo group, a B6-only group, and a group receiving a more complex set of B vitamins.

"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," says Aspy.

Interestingly, the results of this investigation didn't show vitamin B6 affecting the vividness or color of dreams, in contrast to the earlier study. But, B6 was found to significantly improve the participants' ability to remember their dreams upon waking. The researchers suggest this discrepancy could indicate that participants in the new study already had a suitable intake of B6, resulting in the supplementation only improving recall and not quality of dreams.

Another unexpected aspect of the study was that those subjects taking the B complex preparation didn't display the same improvements in dream recall as those taking just the B6 supplement. This was despite the fact that the dosage of B6 was similar in both groups.

The researcher's hypothesize that one or more of the other B vitamins in the complex preparation could possibly counteract the effects of B6 on dreaming. The participants in the B complex group did also report a lower overall quality of sleep than the placebo or B6-only groups, again suggesting that other B vitamins may be causing a detrimental effect on sleep.

Exactly how vitamin B6 could be enhancing recall of dreams is a fertile area for future research with Aspy and his team eager to examine the vitamin's ability to potentially induce lucid dream states.

"Lucid dreaming, where you know that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening, has many potential benefits," explains Aspy. "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."

The study was published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.